Dune has beleaguered the best of directors: David Lynch’s adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel is one of his least remembered films, despite being based on the classic sci-fi novel. And then of course there’s the now the bedazzling mythology surrounding Jodorowsky’s never-made version of the film, which, with the help of H.R. Giger, Moebius, Pink Floyd, and others enlisted to create its aesthetic life (as well as a cast that would have included the likes of Salvador Dalí, Gloria Swanson, Orson Wells, Mick Jagger, and Amanda Lear) would have been immense. So immense, of course, that it wasn’t made.
So here’s something worthy of tentative excitement: Denis Villeneuve is, per The Hollywood Reporter, in talks to direct the reboot for Legendary, who just gained rights to it a month ago. (Across the board, it’s being referred to as a “reboot” — which could mean that key elements are changing; unless they just mean “remake.”) Villeneuve is a very understandable choice, given that, with Arrival, he so deftly envisioned a story that, in other hands, could have given into Hollywood sci-fi cheesiness. And then, of course, he’s also the director of Blade Runner: 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s original. So if he were to take on Dune, he’d really be solidifying the role of person-who-takes-on-sci-fi-projects-you’re-skeptical-about-but-that-might-actually-be-exquisite.
Dune, with all of its environmentalist implications, would be particularly relevant right about now. Herbert’s 1965 novel focuses largely on the conflict over the control of a limited resource — mélange, aka “the spice” — on a desert planet called Arrakis. The coveted substance has led the patriarch of one family — the Harkonnens — to murder that of another — the Atreides; the novel follows young Paul Atreides as he seeks to avenge his father’s death, save Arrakis, and get a little spicy.
While we wait for more information on Villeneuve’s potential reboot, here’s the trailer for Jodorowsky’s Dune — the documentary about the film that never was: