In a better dimension, we would’ve seen director Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune by now. But the COVID-19 pandemic ran roughshod over an entire year of movie release schedules, so the science fiction epic’s December 18, 2020 release date became an October 1, 2021 release date. It will also debut day-and-date on HBO Max, because this is the weird world in which we live now.
So instead of seeing Dune, we have to listen to the people who made it describe it. I recently sat down with actor Dave Bautista to talk about his work in the new Netflix horror/action film Army of the Dead, but we also found time to chat about Villeneuve’s upcoming film, in which he plays the villainous Glossu Rabban, a sadistic warlord. Among the words Bautista uses to describe the film: beautiful, different, dark, strange, epic. You know, the adjectives you’d hope for.
Based on the classic novel by Frank Herbert, Dune is a story of interstellar treachery and war, told on a dangerous desert planet where ruling families clash to control valuable resources. It feels like a world where fans of Game of Thrones and Star Wars can intermingle, having found something fresh to keep both parties excited.
When asked to describe Dune, Bautista grows audibly excited:
[The] world that he’s created is so far over my head. It’s so beautiful and different, and a lot of times dark and strange. But it’s something I never could have imagined. I just don’t have that mind. When I think about things, and when I think about directing, it’s all very contained, based on simple stories, a lot of times very simple and inspiring stories. And for someone to see something and create a world this big, a galaxy, a universe this big, it’s something that doesn’t comprehend, doesn’t compute in my brain. But it’s weird that he can do both. [Denis Villeneuve] can create these huge epic worlds and scenes, but at the same time just focus on the most simple things about a performance. He’s just a special guy, he’s got a special focus, and man, he’s a brilliant storyteller. Dune is special. I think people are going to be blown away. It’s going to be one of the most beautiful films that people have ever seen. But I think that people who are just diehard fans of Dune, of the novels, they’re going to be blown away. Because they don’t have anything, really, to reference in relation to the books. Now they will. They’ll have that visual reference. He took these characters, he took this world, and he’s taken them off the page and put them on screen. It’s epic.
Dune is a reunion for Bautista and Villeneuve, who previously collaborated on Blade Runner 2049. While his small role in that film is very different from the monster he plays in Dune, Bautista noted that his director’s attention to detail helped him create both characters:
If you’re unfamiliar with Dune on screen or on the page, perhaps the film’s official synopsis will help you out:
A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
Bautista can be seen next in Army of the Dead, which hits theaters on May 14, 2021 and streams on Netflix starting May 21, 2021.
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