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The Three Dune Scenes Denis Villeneuve Wishes He Could Show To Author Frank Herbert

The following gets into spoilers for Dune, including a mild description of the film’s ending, so click away to another story if you do not want to know anything about the film.

Adapting a novel into a feature film comes with its own set of obstacles. And when a director chooses to adapt a seminal work of science fiction like Dune for the big screen, the pressure has to be ten times as intense. Denis Villeneuve knows how important Frank Herbert’s 1965 book is to countless readers from all corners of the globe. But Villeneuve doesn’t have the opportunity to invite the late author to a screening room to show him the world of Dune realized on screen. 

When we had Denis Villeneuve on the ReelBlend podcast recently to talk about his passion project, we asked him to name the one scene from his 2021 epic that he’d choose to show to Dune author Frank Herbert, and he couldn’t stop at one. Villeneuve told us:

I think that I would love to show him three scenes. I would love to show him the arrival of the Reverend Mother, followed by the Gom Jabbar. I would love to see how he feels about that. I think that’s pretty close to the book! I think I would love to share with him my interpretation of Paul’s first journey in the desert with the Duke and Gurney, when they see a harvester for the first time, and Paul’s first footstep in the desert. I think that it’s slightly different from the book, and I’m pretty proud of how we brought it to the screen. And I would have loved to see what he felt about that approach.

That’s one of the concerns about any filmmaker trying to translate an epic novel for the screen. You want to stay faithful, but you’d also like to inject SOME of your interpretation of the text. The director’s passion for Dune is what made him the ideal choice to adapt it. And he talks about how he became overwhelmed creating some of the scene from the movie that have lived in his head since childhood. Denis Villeneuve tells ReelBlend:

And then, I think that I would have loved to share with him the final sequence of the movie, where Paul finally meets the Fremen. Because THAT is very close to what my dream was when I was a kid. I remember being in the desert, and I was beside Paul Atreides with a camera, and listening to Stilgar in the dark, and I had shivers. I was like, ‘Oh God, it’s so close to what I had in mind when I was a kid.’ Those are the three.

Those are perfect selections. And I know how important they are to Denis Villeneuve, who just wants the ability to continue/conclude his adaptation of Dune. Now that the numbers are in, and the movie’s doing well around the globe, Warner Bros. should greenlight the sequel. What on Arrakis are they waiting for?

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.