I have already written about my excitement for this year’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune, whose theatrical release I am eagerly anticipating. Until recently, we have had little to go on for the movie, aside from some great news for talent both behind the camera (director Denis Villenueve of Blade Runner: 2049 and Arrival; composer Hans Zimmer of The Dark Knight trilogy, Gladiator, and a whole bunch of other stuff) and in front (Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgård, Josh Brolin, and more). There was also a teaser that focused on the book’s opening scene, and that ended with a delightfully confident assertion that the movie will be watchable “only in theaters.”
Well, earlier today, we got the first trailer:
Starting out with some ambient music that strongly resembles Brian Eno’s work from a previous Dune adaptation (about which I shall say little else), the trailer lays out, in very broad strokes, the story of the book, teasing — and sometimes more than teasing — us with some striking images of the cast and production. Both look great, for the most part. Usually, I hate the movie-trailer trick of dramatically covering a popular song and setting a montage to it, but a rapidfire series of intense scenes set to the climax of Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” gave me goosebumps, and made me feel like I had wandered into some kind of ’70s sci-fi fever dream. (And I mean this as a compliment.)
I am still not sold on Paul Atreides, though. For those who don’t know, Paul Atreides is the main character of Dune (it is a bit less straightforward than simply saying he is the “hero”). He is played in this movie by Timothée Chalamet, a well-pedigreed, waifish young actor. The role is very complicated, encompassing a dawning awareness, setbacks, and maturation. Based on the little I’ve seen, though, Chalamet’s main innovation seems to be to give the character a raspy, overly serious voice. I’ll be delighted to be proven wrong, and everything else looks great. But if the Kwisatz Haderach falls flat, even all the rest of the talent going into this movie might have trouble keeping him afloat.