'Dune: Part Two' is made for the big screens: Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve

The popular filmmaker, along with actors Josh Brolin and Dave Bautista, talk about the upcoming sci-fi epic in Abu Dhabi


Husain Rizvi

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Denis Villeneuve, Dave Bautista, and Josh Brolin. Photo by Muhammad Sajjad/KT
Denis Villeneuve, Dave Bautista, and Josh Brolin. Photo by Muhammad Sajjad/KT

Published: Wed 28 Feb 2024, 6:36 PM

Last updated: Wed 28 Feb 2024, 6:56 PM

Is there something romantic about the desert? Actor Dave Bautista certainly thinks so.

He was in the UAE recently, along with his Dune cast mate Josh Brolin and filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, the man responsible for bringing one of the best sci-fi works on the big screens.

City Times caught up with the three at a resort on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi (Dune vibes just got real!) ahead of Dune: Part Two's release on February 29 in the UAE.

The film, an adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel of the same name, follows Paul Atreides on his journey to becoming a messiah of the local desert tribe of Fremens and stand up to evil conspired by the Emperor and the Harkonnen family in the fictional land of Arrakis.

Dune: Part Two picks up right after the events of Part One, and the film in general is a cinematic masterpiece. In our review, we've called it a visual spectacle for the new age.

And rightly so because watching the movie on the big screens made us realise, in a way, the serene beauty of the desert. (Maybe we do agree with Bautista romanticising the desert afterall).

All credit goes to Denis, for whom it was "important to be in the real environment while shooting," he says, "to be able to feel the power of the desert."

Denis Villeneuve and team caught in action on sets of 'Dune: Part Two'
Denis Villeneuve and team caught in action on sets of 'Dune: Part Two'

"You cannot recreate that on stage or in a studio," Denis added about the massive desert sequences in the film, which is partly shot in the dunes of Abu Dhabi, the Liwa desert in particular. According to the director, the books which the film is based on, set out to capture the impact of the environment on the human beings, and that's exactly how he wanted to show the true power of the desert. "We feel blessed to come and shoot in Abu Dhabi."

Cast and characters

Dune: Part Two features an extensive cast, which in addition to the above actors, also include Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, and others.

And while most of these characters held little to no relevance in Part One, their involvement is key to the plot in the upcoming film. One of the characters is Gurney Halleck, the War Master of House Atreides, played by the charming Josh.

For the actor, who's worked with Denis in the past (Sicario), "panic" was the first thought when the character was put in front of him. "And a little bit of fear," he says, to which Dave bursts out with laughter. "Because I am trying to figure out how I am going to play this role, and why does he (Denis) see me in this role."

Timothee Chalamet and Josh Brolin in a still from 'Dune: Part Two'
Timothee Chalamet and Josh Brolin in a still from 'Dune: Part Two'

Although after a while, shooting in several locations resulted in a visceral experience for him. "About the time we were done shooting, we had become one of Frank Herbert and Denis Villeneuve's creations," he added. "You feel you're inside of it, and not outside any more."

Dave's Rabban Harkonen, however, is more of a brute. But behind that monstrous build, is a person filled with insecurity and fear. At least that's what you make of the Harkonnen man who's put in charge to extinguish the remaining members of House Atreides. And Dave agrees; "The core of Rabban is that he is a coward," he said. "All his anger and rage stem from insecurity and fear. If you understand that about him, you almost feel sorry for him because he is pathetic."

Dave Bautista as Rabban Harkonnen in 'Dune: Part Two'
Dave Bautista as Rabban Harkonnen in 'Dune: Part Two'

Favourite moments

Picking a favourite moment from the entire film was difficult for Denis, for whom the entire film is like his "children."

"I try to give my love to each and every moment of the film," he says, embracing the entire film as the director.

And for Josh, it is one those movies which gets "bigger, greater, and more experiential with every watch."

"I was very overwhelmed when I saw it for the first time," he recalls. "And by the time I watch it for the third, or fourth time, I will finally understand or figure out my favourite because there are just so many good things in it."

One scene in particular, though, had Dave's heart racing, as was the case for us. We're not going to spoil the scene for you but here's what Dave said about it: "I was so excited and the way Javier (Stilgar in the film) reacted was so emotional. I remember sitting in the theatre watching the film and my heart was pounding at the moment."

Although Dune: Part One was a box-office hit, its run at the cinemas was limited due to its release on OTT just a month later. For Dune: Part Two, Denis "cannot predict how the film would go," but he's just relieved to have a proper release now without the pandemic in play. "Part One released at a difficult time, so I am not complaining," he says, "I am just relieved now that finally we will have a chance to show the movie to as many people as possible."

And the way the film is written, cinephiles don't necessarily have to watch Dune: Part One to enjoy Dune: Part Two. We've got Denis' approval on this: "I have set the tone of the film in such a way that you enjoy the second part on its own," he said. "But, of course, it is better if you have watched the first part."

"I also want to encourage people to watch it on the big screens, because it is made for that," Denis signed off, with Josh asking fans to "get ready" for the stellar experience.

"I hope they love watching the film as much as we loved making it," Dave concluded.


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