New ‘Dune’ Photo Shows Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides

Josh St. Clair

From Men's Health

  • This December, director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune will hit the big screen.

  • The film follows intergalactic traveler / royal Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet).

  • Here's what we know so far.

Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, Dune, the first in a sci-fi series spanning several works combining for well over 4,000 pages, has been nearly impossible to adapt for film. But director Denis Villeneuve is hoping to try with his upcoming movie (stuffed with a host of Hollywood megastars), which will be the fourth attempt at bringing the book to cinematic life.

Dune is notable for its socio-political complexity and massive world-building, a behemoth which predated and even directly inspired many of the hit sci-fi franchises of that century. To slightly bastardize the plot, while putting it into mainstream terms: Dune combines the best desert-focused frontiers of the original Star Wars trilogy with a more exciting iteration of the prequel's council-heavy power politics. It's a lot of pew pew pew and also talk talk talk. Which makes it a pretty formidable source material.

So formidable that, for many filmgoers, there hasn't yet been a successful adaptation. (In some editions, the novel runs nearly 900 pages. Who wants to tackle that?) Hopefully that's all about to change very soon, as Warner Bros. Pictures seems to have put together just about the perfect team of creators and actors to get the job done.

Here's everything we know about the newest Dune movie so far.

When is Dune set to release?

The Dune movie will be split into two–kind of like IT and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The first part of the movie is currently set to release on December 18, 2020.

Who is in the cast?

Everyone. Everyone who's hot in Hollywood. That includes Timothée Chalamet, Jason Momoa (whose Khal Drogo and Game of Thrones' Essos feel like Dune decedents), Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, and like a billion other people.

All these hot people filmed Dune in the very hot canyons of southern Jordan. Chalamet told Vanity Fair the temperature on set was 120 degrees. And that's on top of the rubber armor they wore.

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A post shared by Zendaya (@zendaya) on Apr 14, 2020 at 3:44pm PDT

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What an honor.... #dune #dreamchaser

A post shared by David Bautista (@davebautista) on Jul 4, 2019 at 5:03pm PDT

Who's directing Dune this time around?

Denis Villeneuve. And he may actually be the perfect man for this job. The filmmaker has done ambitious sci-fi before, most notably Blade Runner 2049 (Blade Runner and source material author Philip K. Dick owes a literary debt to Herbert.) He's also pulled off some very difficult literary adaptations (including Enemy, based on José Saramago's Kafkaesque novel, The Double). If there's a filmmaker working today who can do Dune, it is most certainly Villeneuve.

And no one is more excited about the project than the French-Canadian filmmaker. In a recent interview with Empire, Villeneuve spoke about a new image from the film.

Photo credit: Empire
Photo credit: Empire

The image shows Chalamet as Paul Atreides being aided by Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck. “It’s Paul’s first contact with the deep desert, where he’s mesmerized by it,” Villeneuve told Empire. “He has a strange feeling of being home. There’s a lot of action at this specific moment, and [it’s] one of the scenes in the movie that I’m starting to get pretty proud of.”

It’s one of Villenueve’s trademark moments: the crossing of the threshold, the moment the hero leaves behind the known world for the unknown. Think Amy Adams’ Louise Banks entering the alien vessel in Arrival. Or Emily Blunt’s Kate Macey riding across the border into Juarez, Mexico, in Sicario. These have been some of Villenueve’s most intense scenes. He’s an expert at hurling viewers into a new world. And in Dune, he’ll have many new world’s to introduce.

What will the Dune movie be about?

Villeneuve's Dune movie will play fairly close to the first 1965 novel.

Paul Atreides (Chalamet), the heir of an aristocratic family, leaves his home planet of Caladan for the mining planet Arrakis, site of the coveted spice "melange" or an elixir-like drug that gives a user a longer life span and is also essential for space navigation. Arrakis, therefore, is of the utmost geopolitical (or would it be galactic-political?) importance, and so the convergence location of the galaxy's competing forces. Paul soon finds himself amidst an intergalactic family-feuding, power scramble for control of the planet.

Villeneuve is also likely to play up the work's historically prophetic themes, telling Vanity Fair that the novel was "a distant portrait of the reality of the oil and the capitalism and the exploitation" of Earth. So Dune will be Herbert meets Miyazaki? Hell yeah.

Wait, how many Dune adaptations are there?

Depends if you include the myriad of failed movies and half-baked TV series left stuffed in drawers as Hollywood writers pull out their greying hair.

Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted it back in the '70s. (There's an amazing documentary about how Jodorowsky's attempt failed.) David Lynch tried it in 1984, but met rare critical scorn. And the SyFy channel gave it a shot in 2000. But, like, who the heck remembers that?

Photo credit: IMDB
Photo credit: IMDB

Villeneuve will thus be the fourth person to attempt the project. His advantage: a lot more money and a lot more special effects tech advancements.

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