VENICE, Italy—After a series of delays, and a public war of words between its director and studio over release strategy, Dune is finally here.
Like his previous masterpiece Arrival, filmmaker Denis Villenueve’s sci-fi epic has made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. And Villeneuve was joined by several of his cast members, including Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, and Oscar Isaac, at a press conference for the film following its first screening.
“The biggest challenge doing Dune was, by far, to deal—and master—Timothee’s hair,” joked Villeneuve. “Because it’s alive. I had to direct Timothee and his haircut.”
On a more serious note, the French-Canadian Villeneuve, who grew up a big fan of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, explained that “back then [Herbert] was doing a portrait of the 20th century, but I think it became more and more of a prediction of what will happen in the 21st.”
With wildfires currently ravaging the west coast, the sea on fire, and apocalyptic flooding and tornadoes on the east coast, Dune’s status as the premier ecology novel—one positing the planet as a living, breathing entity that must be preserved—certainly makes it a timely story. According to Villeneuve, we are well past the point of worry. It’s time to act.
“I will say about the environment… future generations will judge us,” he said. “I think it’s time to get angry right now—to push, to make changes. I still have hope, and I think it’s time to get into action.”
“As an example,” he continued, “there’s an election right now in Canada. They don’t talk enough about the environment. That should be the priority! That’s the thing that we should talk about in this election right now, and they don’t talk about it that much. It’s just another subject—but it should be the subject. I don’t want to be moralistic, but I think it’s about survival. And that’s what this book is about: survival.”
Since his film adaptation of Dune—which will hit theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 22—is billed as the first in a two-part story, Villeneuve was asked about the possibility of a sequel.
“I’m not the one who will draw the line,” he said. “I think one thing for sure is that Warner Bros. and Legendary are proud of the movie right now and are putting all their efforts to bring it to the world and to the big screen.”