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The Dune Scene Denis Villeneuve Had To Cut That’s ‘Still Painful’ To Him

The title card on Denis Villeneuve’s new masterpiece says “Dune: Part One.” So he makes it very clear that Dune is meant to be the beginning of a story that he hopes to continue… possibly with a sequel, and possibly with a trilogy (if this first movie does as well as ticket presales suggest it might). Frank Herbert’s seminal novel certainly has plenty of story left to share, and as it turns out, there was one sequence in Dune that Villeneuve had to cut from this first installment, to the heartbreak of himself and actor Josh Brolin. He tells the story in the clip above.

Josh Brolin, in Dune, plays Gurney Halleck, trusted advisor to Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) who manages weaponry for the house and also acts as a mentor for the Duke’s young son, Paul (Timothee Chalamet). Gurney comes across as rigid, stoic and relentless as the desert landscapes that the House Atreides encounter when they move to the harsh planet of Arrakis. But during the Dune press day, Brolin told CinemaBlend how much he appreciated the duality of Gurney Halleck, that he’s a loyal and fierce soldier, with a soulful side. He told us about a song he got to sing, and you never know with Brolin, so I thought he might be pulling my leg. He’s extremely funny, but very dry. 

So when I sat across from Denis Villeneuve at the same press event, I asked him about Gurney Halleck’s song, and he opened up to me by saying:

There’s a beautiful scene of Gurney Halleck singing, with a beautiful song written by Frank Herbert and Jon Spaihts, and put to music by Hans Zimmer. And it’s beautiful. And this is THE thing that I cut out that is still painful to me. When I make a movie, things that I cut out of the movie, they are dead to me. It’s like, ‘OK, not in the movie? Dead.” The song from Gurney Halleck was breaking my heart. And by itself, it’s so beautiful. I had to cut it out for numerous reasons. And boy, that was painful. But, if there’s a part two! (laughs) And I love the way Josh. One thing at a time.

I don’t even want to see this scene on a Blu-ray, as a deleted scene. I want for Denis Velleneuve to be able to wait, and incorporate the scene -- with Hans Zimmer’s original score -- in context into Dune: Part Two. Josh Brolin says that the song allowed him to show off that Gurney is both a warrior and a poet. As for his singing, he told CinemaBlend: 

I feel like I did well. I probably didn’t. But I’ve convinced myself that I did well.

The thing about Brolin, and everyone in the Dune ensemble, is that he is so expertly cast and credible in the role that if we got to a scene where Gurney started singing, I’d simply embrace it as fact, and roll. Dune is that good. And you can start seeing for yourself, as the movie finally has opened in the U.S., and on HBO Max wherever the streamer is available.

Sean O'Connell

Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.