Denis Villeneuve wowed everyone with Arrival in 2016 and cemented his position as one of the finest contemporary science fiction directors with 2017’s astonishing Blade Runner 2049. So, when it was announced that he’d be directing a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic novel Dune, expectations were sky high.
The film is now in the middle of post-production and apparently still on course for its December 18th release. And now, Vanity Fair has released the first official promo still, showing star Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, the protagonist of the movie and one of the central figures in the Dune series.
The moody picture sees Atreides walking along a desolate beach on his homeworld of Caladan with mysterious spacecraft floating in the air above him. The drizzly, gloomy image is a stark contrast to the desert environments usually associated with the series, so the characters will face quite a shock when they arrive on the desolate Arrakis.
Chalamet discussed the role of Paul Atreides in a recent interview as well, explaining that:
“The immediately appealing thing about Paul was the fact that in a story of such detail and scale and world-building, the protagonist is on an anti-hero’s-journey of sorts. He thinks he’s going to be sort of a young general studying his father and his leadership of a fighting force before he comes of age, hopefully a decade later, or something like that.”
Readers of the book will know that Paul is in fact destined to become a religious messiah figure, gaining superpowers and being considered a hero by mankind. But Paul’s intentionally flawed, with Herbert describing him as a cautionary tale about humanity’s tendency to follow a charismatic leader, even if it’s to very dark places.
Dune is a complex, multilayered fantasy work and numerous directors have tried and failed to bring it to the screen successfully. But if any modern filmmaker can pull it off, it’s Denis Villeneuve.