Dear Denis Villeneuve,

I know that you are attempting to adapt the great unadaptable Dune. I know that you are a strong and capable director – in fact, among the very best. I trust you. Blade Runner 2049 was a sci-fi masterpiece, aloe to my burning worries. But having recently rewatched David Lynch’s 1984 Dune, I do have some thoughts:

  1. Do people really need to be so sweaty? It’s unclear whether this was an artistic choice or simply the result of filming in the Mexican desert, but either way, get some blotting papers and use them. Vigorously.

2. This story takes place in the year 10 000++ (I can’t remember exactly, but it’s far, far into the future). Why does the future look so much like the past? And I don’t mean the 1980s, when it was filmed, although obviously it does bear those marks as well. I mean the 18th century – many of the gowns look extras wandered in from the set Amadeus. I cannot imagine a version of the future where women embrace hoop skirts again. And the Duke uses a ring to make his wax seals, you know, for “security” because apparently we moved so far beyond digital fingerprints and retinal scans we’ve landed back at wax. And for that matter, how is it that they can travel through space but they can’t send an email?

3. And for that matter, on the 80s theme…I get that you were living in heady times, David Lynch. You had so many new effects at your fingertips. In just two years time, with every motherfucker with a Panasonic camcorder doing it, you may have relied less on those extravagant wipes. You might have held back on the layering of images if you watched just a little more MTV. Every time the image of a gently weeping man was super-imposed over the image of a barren desert, I expected a power ballad to chime in. And despite a soundtrack from Toto, none ever did. Sheesh.

4. The flying fat suit. I really, really just could not. It reminded me of a hybrid between Mad Max: Fury Road’s  Immortan Joe and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’s Violet when she blows up like a blueberry. It’s gross, it’s painful, at times just downright silly, and always, always incredibly unnecessary. Please omit.

5. Also: the eyebrows? Not feeling them. I mean, even if in the future we decide to take faces in a whole new direction, I’m not sure teased, bushy eyebrows would be the look, even if it were possible, which it is not. I can assure you that Sean has not even once in his life groomed his eyebrows, and though they are wiry, unkempt, and disastrous, they are not six inches long because there is just a limit on how long eyebrows will grow before they fall out. That’s just life. And frankly, I think any society should work harder at getting email back before it looks into eyebrow growth hormones.

6. That codpiece though? Yeah, Sting’s codpieces are perhaps the one thing that worked. If I were you, Denis, I’d even look at getting Sting back.

7. I’m not dogging on Lynch. He’s a man of vision and I admire the attempt. I’ve read the book. The story is vast, and very engrossing. But to squeeze it into a two-hour film is just impossible. Movie-goers were even given cheat sheets with backstory, but still it’s not enough. How to retain the book’s essence without overpowering the story with detail? It’s nearly impossible, as Lynch discovered. Villeneuve has promised to break it up into at least 2 films, though Lynch would have expected to do the same and never got the chance after the first one’s failure (it made $31M against a $40M budget, actually Lynch’s most successful film, but still considered a flop). One thing’s for sure: 80% of the dialogue in the 1984 version is attributed to a character’s thoughts, which we hear out loud (or actually, whispered, though I can’t imagine why someone would whisper to themselves inside their own head). This constant narrative device was a major failing of the film and I hope like heck that between Villeneuve and his screenwriting conspirators, Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, the problem with have found a solution. A workable one.

New vs Old cast:

Timothee Chalamet role: Paul Atreides Kyle McLachlan

Rebecca Ferguson Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica Francesca Annis

Zendaya Chani Sean Young

Jason Momoa Duncan Idaho Richard Jordan

Josh Brolin Gurney Halleck Patrick Stewart

Oscar Isaac Duke Leto Atreides, Paul’s dad Jürgen Prochnow

Javier Bardem Stilgar Everett McGill

Dave Bautista Glossu ‘Beast’ Rabban Paul Smith

Stellan Skarsgard Baron Harkonnen (flying fuck) Kenneth McMillan

Charlotte Rampling Reverend Mother Sian Phillips

??? Princess Irulan Virginia Madsen

??? Feyd Rautha Sting

13 thoughts on “Dear Denis Villeneuve,

  1. ninvoid99

    I’m hoping Villeneuve would succeed in making a great version though it’s not going to be the version that Alejandro Jodorowsky was going to make as his version was just fucking nuts for all of the good reasons. Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen, Salvador Dali as the Grand Duke, Mick Jagger as Feyd Rautha with visual effects by Dan O’Bannon of Alien, design work by Moebius and H.R. Giger, music by Pink Floyd. That shit would’ve been fucking tight!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sam Simon

    No one can replace Sting! I never liked Lynch’s Dune, but I have high hopes for Villeneuve. He’s taking his time to make this one (while he’s usually very prolific as a director with one or two movies per year), and I hope it’s for the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul

    Ahhh, Dune. I loved the book and hated David Lynch’s attempt to make a film of it.

    I will, almost certainly see Denis Villeneuve’s version but I have a horrible feeling that I will be badly disappointed.


  4. Robert Horvat

    Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival are my top 2 films of the 2010s. Villeneuve is a genius. Does anyone know who is the cinematographer for Dune? If it’s Richard Deakins it has got to be a surefire hit!


  5. Paul Bowler

    I really liked the book but I’m not a fan of David Lynch’s film, although it had some good elements, the film failed to really capture the huge scope of the novel. However, Villeneuve did a fantastic job with Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, so I’ve high hopes for this new version of Dune.


  6. Michael Kuzmanovski

    This is bold and dangerous in this time. You have deftly expressed reservations about the new Dune film without seeming to dislike the film before seeing it.

    I hope David Lynch’s Dune hasn’t narrowed the vision of Denis Villenueve. It already looks like it has.


  7. Pingback: Dear Denis Villeneuve, — ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES | First Scene Screenplay Festival

  8. Experience Film

    So cool that you’ve read the book! I have not, but still greatly looking forward to Villeneuve’s forthcoming version.

    Lynch is one of my fav directors. But oh what mess… It was after this disaster that he no longer took on a project unless he had “final cut.” Hopefully Villeneuve arrives at the same conclusions you do here, and sees the 1984 version as a roadmap of what NOT to do… Except for Sting. Can we at least get a cameo??? 😁😊



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