Legendary Pictures is adapting Frank Herbert’s seminal 1965 science fiction novel Dune for the big screen, with Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve behind the camera. According to Herbert’s son Brian, the script is coming along nicely:
The big takeaway here is that Denis Villeneuve’s movie will only cover the first half of the first Dune novel, which seems to confirm that we’re in for a two-parter. On the one hand, this is great news; David Lynch tried to adapt Dune as one movie back in 1984, and it didn’t go well. On the other hand, Hollywood has a bad habit of drawing out stories better told in one go, but Dune is a very complex work, so this is nowhere near as bad as, say, Warner Bros. adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a relatively lightweight fantasy novel, into three different films.
Frank Herbert wrote six Dune novels before his death in 1986, and the full tale is as sprawling and character-driven as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Along with Hugo Gernsback, Herbert could be considered the father of modern science fiction, much as Tolkien is considered the father of modern fantasy.
My only concern is that the first half of Dune includes a lot of inner monologue and intricate political maneuvering that sets the stage for the more action-packed second half. Will people have the attention span for two hours of exposition about the Spacing Guild’s demand for more spice, the terraforming of planets, and worker’s union disputes over on-the-job safety?
Then again, Villeneuve has developed a good reputation for crafting thought-provoking, intelligent science fiction stories, so I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.
Legendary and Villeneuve are already staffing up, and are in talks to cast Oscar-nominated actor Timothée Chalamet to play lead character Paul Atreides.