Tonight and tomorrow, audiences are going to to have their eyes rocked to the core, because Warner Bros. and Legendary are holding an exclusive first look event at Denis Villeneuve’s visionary adaptation of the sci-fi classic Dune in IMAX screens all over the world! And if you have not gotten your tickets yet, I highly encourage you to do so now by clicking here. We were lucky enough to get to see the preview a bit earlier this week, and I can honestly tell you, IT IS AMAZING! And we’d like to describe and recap what we saw now, and what makes it so special.
However, if you have your tickets and are going tonight, and want to be surprised without spoilers, stop reading now, and come back to the article later, because we will be diving into everything we saw.
Ok, still with us? Good! Here’s a quick recap of everything we saw during the sneak preview:
The event kicked off with a quick behind the scenes glimpse of the film. Several of the major stars, including Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Jason Mamoa, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac, and more involved discussed how brilliant and visionary a director Denis was, and how important the source material has always been for him. The footage they showed presented a lot of practical effects, from spaceships and sets built from the ground up, along with discussions with the costume designers and Villeneuve directing his army of actors. It was all very impressive.
However the first major treat following that came when the IMAX screen before us expanded into a full scope. Chalamet recorded a special message saying we were about to see the first 10 minutes of the film. And boy, as soon as the credits rolled, I knew we were in for something truly special.
The film opens up with the voice of Zendaya’s character Chani. She introduces the audience to the world of Arrakis, her home planet, and its most valuable prized resource, called “Spice.” Spice is highly valued and coveted because serves as fuel for spaceships, but to the people of Arrakis, Chini’s people (called the Fremen), it grants them a longer life span, greater vitality, and heightened awareness.
Chani informs the audience that the hostile Imperium continue to invade the Fremen lands to harvest Spice, resorting in constant conflict between the groups, and cruelty towards her people. Following her introduction, we see a title card saying “Dune: Part One.” This is incredibly interesting because it shows full confidence in this film as a long term franchise for the studio. With the amount of story the books cover, we’ll be along the ride for several films to come.
Following the title card, we are then taken to Caladan, planet of House Atreides, where we meet Paul (Chalamet), the young son of Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac) and Lady Jessica Atreides (Ferguson). The year is 10,191. Paul wakes up after having a prophetic dream that seems to feature Chani. Sitting with Lady Jessica at breakfast, she challenges him to use his “voice” to command her to pass him a glass of water. We see Paul attempting to do just that, an act that almost works on Lady Jessica. She comments that he is close, but it still takes years to learn how to use his abilities.
Next we are taken to a ceremony involving the entire House Atreides — Duke, Jessica, Paul, along with the Atreides bodyguard, Gurney (Brolin). The Padishah Emperor Shaddam sends his men to formally give House Atreides the position of being the current leaders of Arrakis. Duke is, of course, surprised, but eventually decides to carry out the emperor’s wishes.
At this point, the footage ended, and we were treated to another clip, introduced by Villeneuve himself, which he referred to as the “Spice harvesting” scene.
The clip began with Paul, Duke, Gurney, and Liet-Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) in a Caladan cruiser. They are hovering over Arrakis. Liet-Kynes tells Paul that harvesting spice is very difficult and attracks Arrakan sandworms. Duke manages to spot a sandworm approaching the area they are hovering over. However, the team that’s harvesting the Spice is unaware of the sandworm’s impending arrival. In an effort to save the harvesting team of 27 people, Paul and Gurney, decide to go on to the surface of the planet to evacuate the workers. Suddenly Paul has a vision/goes into a trance. Before they could all leave, Gurney rushes down to grab Paul just as the sandworm arrives. They run back to the cruiser amidst a collapsing surface to reveal the gargantuan maw of a sandworm swallowing all the harvesting equipment.
The entire scene was astonishing to witness – from the Caladan cruiser to the monumental sandworm. Every detail was brilliantly rendered and fully photoreal. And visuals aside, the music was also incredible.
Which led to the final segment of the preview. Villeneuve discussed his partnership with the legendary Hans Zimmer, who did the score for Dune but also previously collaborated with the director on Blade Runner 2049. Zimmer and Villeneuve collaborated over Zoom on various video calls. For his technique on the film, the composer had to invent his own musical instruments to fully capture the sound of Dune. And he also employed several vocal performers to conduct a chorus to give the film an operatic feel and sound.
And with that, the footage came to a close and our minds were blown!
For my money, Dune is hands down unlike anything I have ever seen, and exactly what the state of cinema needs right now. Yes there will be inevitable comparisons to established franchises like Star Wars, but Dune is looking to be something much more. The attention and love Villeneuve and the crew have put into this film while crafting it, just to do justice to the seminal novel that inspired generations of filmmakers like Villeneuve himself, is not only apparent, but visible on the screen in spades.
And though the mythology is complex, as audiences will notice within the first 10 minutes of the movie, I have no doubt in my mind that they will be willing to embrace it with the same affection and passion as the team who brought it to life. The long and short of it is Dune is coming. And we should be prepared for cinema to change as a result of it!
Dune hits theaters and HBO Max on October 22.