Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides with glowing blue eyes and wind swept hair in 'Dune Part 2.'

Denis Villeneuve Breaks Down the One Thing Everyone Gets Wrong About ‘Dune’

“When you adapt, you kill darlings,” says Dune and Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve. “When you adapt, you transform. I think the movie says more about me than it says about Frank Herbert.”

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We sat down with Villeneuve to talk about Dune: Part Two, the second installment in his planned trilogy based on Frank Herbert’s beloved novels. While 2021’s Dune adapted the first half of Herbert’s Dune, Part Two will cover the second half of the book—and Villeneuve is taking his responsibility to the source material seriously.

“Frank Herbert felt that the first book was misperceived,” Villeneuve says. “He felt that people wrongly thought that Paul was a hero, and he wanted to create an anti-hero. So to correct that view of things, he wrote Dune Messiah, to make sure people understood his intentions.”

It’s easy to see how readers of the original Dune could mistake Paul Atreides for a hero. Paul, who travels to the desert planet Arrakis when his family is tasked with controlling production of the drug Spice, finds out that a religious order called the Bene Gesserit has been planting rumors that he’s a prophet. At the end of Villeneuve’s Dune, Paul (Timothée Chalamet) joins the Indigenous population of Arrakis known as the Fremen.

On the surface, the story seems to replicate a troubling white savior trope, with Paul arriving from the stars to lead the Arab-influenced Fremen to freedom. Whether the film trilogy successfully subverts that trope remains to be seen.

However, Villeneuve says that Chalamet leaned into the more complicated aspects of Paul’s character. “I had to calm him down in part one, saying, ‘Not yet! You’re still a boy!'” he says, laughing. “But to see that transformation in front of the camera [in Part Two] was very moving to me.”

Check out the rest of the interview, including more on Chalamet’s transformation and the cinematography in Dune: Part Two, below!

Dune: Part Two hits theaters on March 1, 2024.

(featured image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>