Warner Bros. today released the first official photo from Denis Villeneuve's Dune. The photo offers the first look at Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac). Paul is more than a nobleman's son. His arrival on the desert planet of Arrakis awakens the power within him and he is set on the path to becoming a reluctant messiah. “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,” Chalamet tells Vanity Fair. “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.”
In an interview in December, Oscar Isaac said the film will not be for the faint of heart. He noted that Villeneuve isn't shying away from the uglier elements of the story. "I couldn’t imagine anyone more suited for the tone of the original Frank Herbert novels than Denis," he said. "There are some things that are — for lack of a better word — nightmarish about what you see… There’s just this kind of brutalist element to it. It’s shocking. It’s scary. It’s very visceral."
The film’s synopsis, which appeared in a recent issue of Production Weekly, reads: “The trouble begins when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don’t want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet’s harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what’s rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.”
This is the second film adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel. In 1984, David Lynch directed a Dune movie with Kyle MacLachlan in the lead role as Paul. The film is a cult favorite, but many felt it failed to capture the intricacies of Herbert’s novel. Villeneuve explained how his own approach compares in an interview with Yahoo.
“David Lynch did an adaptation in the ’80s that has some very strong qualities,” Villeneuve said. “I mean, David Lynch is one of the best filmmakers alive, I have massive respect for him. But when I saw his adaptation, I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams. It will not have any link with the David Lynch movie. I’m going back to the book, and going to the images that came out when I read it.”
Dune's cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Stephen Henderson, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem. Dune opens in theaters on December 18, 2020.