LOS ANGELES, Sept. 9 (UPI) — Warner Bros. released the first trailer for its adaptation of Dune on Wednesday. Denis Villeneuve directs the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts.
The ensemble cast, which includes Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Sharon Duncan-Brewster, also spoke about making the film in a recent video press conference.
The trailer shows the iconic scene of Paul Atreides (Chalamet) placing his hand in a Pain Box. Fans of the book will recognize Herbert’s prose when Atreides says, “Fear is the mind killer. When the fear is gone, only I will remain.”
Chalamet said he interprets that line to mean that sometimes, a response to a conflict can be just as overwhelming as the conflict itself. Atreides’ journey is to overcome fear.
“There is a middle ground, a sort of Zen like calmness that helps you through the eye of the storm,” Chalamet said.
Zendaya plays Chani, a member of the Fremen tribe, native to planet Arrakis. Arrakis has a natural resource, Melange, the subject of a battle between the Atreides family and the Harkonnens. The trailer shows their first meeting, and Zendaya said Chani initially greets Paul with skepticism.
“This other kid coming in, she’s not really feeling it,” Zendaya said.
Dune takes place in the future, on distant planets, with alien species and sand worms. However, the conflict between three human factions are universal, says Isaac, who plays Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atreides.
“This has a lot more to do with human tribes than it has to do with alien species,” Isaac said.
The trailer shows Chalamet training with Josh Brolin. Brolin plays Gurney Halleck, a former Harkonnen slave. He prepares Paul for battle, but there’s more to Halleck, Brolin says.
“He’s this great kind of Braveheart warrior but at the same time has a love of poetry and heart,” Brolin said. “There’s a softness to him. It’s a great dichotomous character.”
It is Jason Momoa who actually leads the battle shown in the trailer. He proclaims, “Let’s fight like demons” before his soldiers lower to the ground. That’s Duncan Idaho, a fierce Atreidis warrior.
“I’m basically the greatest fighter in the [expletive] world, the galaxy for that matter,” Momoa said.
Bardem plays Stilgar, leader of a Fremen tribe on Arrakis. Stilgar looks to Paul to resolve the political struggle on Arrakis.
“He has a lot of ethics and morals and he’s taken by the message that the messiah, Paul Atreides, is bringing,” Bardem said.
Sharon Duncan-Brewster plays Liet-Kynes, an ecologist on Arrakis who helps bridge the Fremen and Atredies clans. Liet-Kynes is a man in Herbert’s book and portrayed by men in previous adaptations.
“I don’t think it matters that Kynes in the book is a man,” Duncan-Brewster said. “I think what’s important is what Kyness stands for. That’s definitely what Denis stayed loyal to.”
The trailer concludes with a brand new depiction of the sandworms of Arrakis. David Lynch’s 1984 film of Dune used stop-motion animation to depict the creatures of Herbert’s novel. 2020 visual effects create a smoother-looking sandworm.
Villeneuve said it was important to him to film Dune in the real deserts of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, rather than recreate the planet Arrakis with visual effects.
“In order to bring Dune to the screen, I needed to be as close to nature as possible,” Villaneuve said. “So when people see the movie, they will be amazed by the power of the landscape.”
Alejandro Jodoworsky was the first filmmaker to attempt to adapt Herbert. The documentary Jodoworsky’s Dune chronicles his aborted film. Lynch’s 1984 film was greeted with poor reviews and low box office. The Syfy Channel adapted Dune as a miniseries in 2000 and Children of Dune in 2003.
Dune opens Dec. 18 in theaters. Villeneuve hopes it will be the first of two Dune films.