Jan 18, 2018
The sleeper has awakened!
After far too long, someone is taking another crack at Dune, Frank Herbert's classic series of science fiction novels. In this case, that someone is Legendary Entertainment, who are no stranger to genre franchises. Legendary announced they had acquired "the film and television motion picture rights" to the Dune saga in late 2016. Eric Roth, whose screenplay credits include Forrest Gump, Munich, The Insider, Ali, and others, will write the film, which Denis Villeneuve is directing. Legendary seems serious about getting Dune right this time around. Thomas Tull, Mary Parent and Cale Boyter, will produce for Legendary. Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert will serve as executive producers.
And Denis Villeneuve might just be the director who does the impossible. For years, a Blade Runner sequel seemed, at best, improbable, let alone a good one. But Blade Runner 2049 was beautiful. So, with an almost impossible sequel to a sci-fi classic under his belt, and having just helmed the best sci-fi movie of 2016 with Arrival, he seems like the right guy to finally do justice to one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises of all time.
“Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune so it’s going to be a challenge to [tackle] this,” Villeneuve told Fandom. “The ambition is to do the Star Wars movie I never saw. In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults. We’ll see.”
Frank Herbert wrote six Dune novels, each more bonkers than the last. The saga has since been continued by Herbert's son along with sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson. But again, even just keeping the focus on Frank Herbert's first six, or even first three books, Dune simply can't be contained by a single film. Perhaps the biggest failing of the David Lynch version was its attempt to give closure to what was really only the beginning of the story. But it seems that's the plan here, as Villeneuve told Fandom, "the idea is to start from the very first book."
There have been attempts to bring Dune to the screen since David Lynch's 1984 film, notably the Sci-Fi Channel's 2000 mini-series, which was perhaps more faithful to the source material, but lacked the resources of Lynch's big screen attempt. That was followed by the Children of Dune mini-series, which combined elements of the second and third books from the series, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Each of those could take up a season or two of TV themselves, I might add, so if the franchise decides to branch out beyong movies, there's plenty of material
But Dune, with its sprawling, psychedelic, intergalactic story of royalty, prophesy, and fiefdoms has proven notoriously difficult to do justice on screen. The most notable failure remains Alejandro Jodorowsky's years-long quest to bring the movie to life using everyone from legendary comic book artist Moebius to Mick Jagger to Salvador Dali. This was chronicled in the stunning Jodorowsky's Dune documentary, which is ironically the best Dune-related thing to ever actually make it to the screen. Seriously, you need to check it out.
Mike Cecchini can be found folding space in his spare time and on Twitter.