Christopher Nolan praises Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” – The Hollywood Reporter


Cinephiles and science fiction aficionados around the world have found common cause in Denis Villeneuve’s film Dune, celebrating the film as the rarest creature in the multiplex: a mega-budget tent pole that looks like a work of pure author’s passion, rather than another overly proficient exploitation of the studio-owned intellectual property.

It is therefore perhaps not surprising that the filmmaker most commonly identified with the high-concept maverick show turns out to be an ardent Denis Villeneuve and Dune fan.

Over the weekend, Christopher Nolan sat down with Villeneuve to discuss the making of Dune for an episode of the Podcast cut by directors, recorded during a screening at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles. Throughout their conversation, the director of The dark night, Dunkirk and Principle praised Villeneuve’s handling of Frank Herbert’s endlessly influential sci-fi classic.

“This is one of the most seamless marriages of live photography and computer-generated visual effects that I have seen,” said Nolan. “It’s very, very compelling at every turn.”

He continued, “I think this movie is going to introduce a whole new generation of fans to Dune who have never read the book and who may go and read it now. I think it’s amazing work. I have had the luxury of seeing it several times now, and every time I watch it I discover new things, new details in the world. The way it’s done is absolutely for the big screen. It’s a real treat and a real gift for moviegoers around the world – and thank you very much for that, Denis.

Produced by Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros., Dune currently tops the North American box office after opening last weekend to peak at $ 40.1 million. Globally, the film, which cost $ 165 million to make, had grossed $ 220.2 million by the end of Sunday.

Villeneuve’s film only covers the first half of Frank Herbert’s book, however, and the director has been very public about his ambitions to end the story with a carefully planned big-budget sequel. But Legendary and Warner Bros. have yet to give the go-ahead for the sequel, as they await a clearer indication of the success of the first film.

Determination DuneThe commercial strength of, however, is complicated by the fact that Warners released the film simultaneously on HBO Max, as it did with its entire roster of 2021 motion pictures.

Nolan and Villeneuve briefly became public allies last year when they blasted Warner Bros. for its shock streaming decision – especially how the studio blinded its creative partners, many of whom, like the two directors, had designed. their work expressly for the big screen experience. . Nolan lambasted WB in the pages of Hollywood journalist, and Villeneuve wrote a strongly worded editorial in Variety.

During their conversation with the DGA, Nolan was quick to question Villeneuve about his decision to split the book into two films.

“It’s something that I came up with at the studio right away, because I felt that trying to put this huge story into one movie would be a mistake,” Villeneuve said. “It wasn’t a discussion; they spontaneously accepted. But Villeneuve added that he initially hoped to film both episodes of Dune back to back, or simultaneously, but the studio balked at the expense of the idea.

“I should say you’re still as good as your last movie, and you bring that reputation to the table,” he added. ” And I think that Blade Runner 2049 just wasn’t a major hit, so they were a little cold about investing in two films right away.

Nolan said he felt Villeneuve was too hard on himself. “I think it was a negotiating tactic on the part of the studios,” he replied, “because I think Blade runner is a very successful film and an incredible job.

But Villeneuve said he was now relieved that he hadn’t attempted the enormous task of doing two Dunes at once. “I would be dead,” he added, laughing. “I’m so glad we didn’t. I wouldn’t have had the stamina to do that. Frankly, the truth is, I’m grateful it turned out this way.

Nolan was especially curious about how Villeneuve approached the film’s computer graphics work, given how seamlessly CGI shots are integrated into the film’s highly accomplished cinematography.

“The same way you do, I think,” replied Villeneuve. “I think you shoot as much as possible in real places and try to embrace reality. There are some shots in truth that are purely CGI, but I’ve tried to avoid them as much as possible.

“The whole movie – to shoot with real environments and real environments,” he continued. “It’s all about the light at the end of the day. I had a masterclass on how to enlighten a shot on doing Bladerunner with Roger Deakins. Because Roger was overseeing all the VFX with me, so I spent a year listening to him on every shot. I have learned so much.

When it comes to locations, Nolan instantly recognized one of Dune’s major desert sites. “One of the most spectacular places you used in the film is Wadi Rum in Jordan, which some of you may have known from Laurence of Arabia, “he explained.” A lot of movies have been shot in Wadi Rum since then. Laurent, but for my money, this is the first time I’ve seen it used so expressively. The feeling of belonging is extraordinary.

“When [my DP] Greig Fraser and I were thinking about the film, for us it was like a kind of love letter to the theatrical experience on the big screen, ”Villeneuve said. “The book called for it – the landscape and the story of a boy who will slowly lift the burden of all of his heritage and make peace with one side of his identity as he sinks deeper and deeper into the countryside.”

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