Arrival director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) is tossing down the creative gauntlet and vehemently declaring that he'd love to film a new adaptation of Frank Herbert's monumental 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune.
Many braver and more experienced visionaries have attempted (with limited success) to tame Herbert's galaxy-spanning epic featuring warring noble houses, a charismatic messiah, humongous sand worms and the consciousness-expanding spice Melange harvested from the arid planet of Arrakis.
The first major attempt at bringing the ecologically aware novel to the big screen was by Chilean cult fillmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose failed but heroic plight was chronicled in the excellent documentary Jodorowsky's Dune. With massively expensive set pieces, burning giraffes, hallucinatory mind trips and planned starring roles by Orson Welles, Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali, it became a cautionary tale as to the limitations of whimsy and imagination and probably the greatest movie that was never filmed. Next was David Lynch's flawed masterpiece, Dune, in 1984, with its confusing narrative, Brian Eno score, magnificent costumes and special effects by E.T.'s Carlo Rambaldi. In 2000, Syfy invested serious funds for a Dune miniseries that was critically solid but lacked Hollywood's bank account to conjure up stunning sci-fi battles and exotic locations with any level of realism.
Now Villeneuve wants to grapple this impossible adaptation after he finishes Ridley Scott's Blade Runner 2 next year, but it will take a whole lot more than just wishful thinking before nervous studio executives expose themselves to that kind of financial liability. Here's what the director had to say about his dream to perform the Herculean task of remaking Dune at a recent press conference for Arrival.
I’m always looking for sci-fi material, and it’s difficult to find original and strong material that’s not just about weaponry. A longstanding dream of mine is to adapt “Dune,” but it’s a long process to get the rights, and I don’t think I will succeed. Also I would love to write something myself. I have two [sci-fi] projects right now that are in very stages. It’s too early to talk about them.
Personally, I'd love someone to take a fresh crack at Herbert's sprawling space opera and its sequels that influenced generations of artists and filmmakers. What do you think? Is Villeneuve the right person to wrangle the ferocious sand worms of Dune?