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'Dune' director Denis Villeneuve reveals the one scene that literally pained him to cut

Director Denis Villeneuve and star Josh Brolin discuss the Dune scene they shot but cut from the film.

By Tara Bennett
Dune Still

With Dune finally dropping this week, the two-and-a-half-hour epic arrives with a few narrative nips and tucks that gave director Denis Villeneuve some personal pain.

A life-long fan of all of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, Villeneuve told SYFY WIRE that in adapting the source material for this screenplay, it was always about streamlining the heavy narrative to translate for film audiences. “Even as I was shooting, sometimes I was changing elements or trying to make sure to find the most efficient and cinematic way to express complex ideas to make them as accessible as possible,” he said.

Because of that, there were some sacrifices made in the edit, including one in particular that was extra painful for the director to delete.

“It's Gurney Halleck’s baliset,” he said with sadness, while referring to a scene in Herbert’s novel that reveals the soldier to also be an accomplished musician with the traditional baliset instrument. “It's something that I shot. It's something that exists. Josh [Brolin] was awesome, but I couldn't, for several reasons, put it in Part I.”

Following up with Brolin, the actor confirmed shooting the scene. “We did the singing scene with the baliset and Hans (Zimmer) had written a really nice piece,” he said of the original music created by the famous film composer.

“It was kind of like Lou Reed meets Tom Waits meets me,” Brolin chuckled. “We did it well and we didn't have a lot of time to do it. It was kind of off the cuff, because we knew we were going to do it at some point.”

Brolin said that Villeneuve called him personally to tell him the scene didn’t make the final cut.

“When he called me, he was nervous and extremely apologetic. I know him well enough to know it was actually true. And listen, I trust him… I don't think that scene belonged in there, especially in the momentum of the movie. I was imagining where that scene could be and it would be tonally, completely off. So we'll save that for Part II.”

Dune hits HBO Max on Oct. 21 and U.S. theaters on Oct. 22.