“We have to believe that these are real creatures.”
International success, and particularly in France where the film accumulated 3,165,270 admissions after its release on September 15, the Dunes of Denis Villeneuve still continues to amaze since its release on the big screen. Nominated ten times for the Oscars this year, the film is revealed a little more before the American Academy ceremony (which will take place on March 27), in particular with a reportage version of a guided tour by Denis Villeneuve and his team on the backstage of the one of the most famous elements of the universe created by Frank Herbert: sandworms.
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If in the original novel the sandworms can reach a length of 3 kilometers and a width of several hundred meters, in the cinema they represent a real animation challenge. Villeneuve also explains that the first question we ask ourselves once the decision to adapt Dunes take is “What about the worms?” Having wished to remain faithful to the work of Herbert while creating a true moment of cinema, Villeneuve had to create a fascinating creature as much as it is divine (in particular for the Fremen). And for that, he relied on his team.
“We must believe that they are real creaturesbegins producer Mary Parent, and in the case of how the Fremen see them, almost divine”. Approaching the creation of sandworms from an almost biological point of view, wondering how such an animal evolves in the desert and how it survives, the animation team chose to focus on the physics of worm thrust through tons of sand. According to Villeneuve, they approached the beast by focusing on its biology, emphasizing its teeth, scales and mating call. “It was about finding a balance between artistic goals and real-world mechanics”, said Brice Parker, visual effects producer. The team reportedly spent months researching dessert camouflage creatures and their environments to then apply to sandworms.
Sound editing supervisors Mark Magini and Theo Green also appear in the report, describing their process for creating the thud of the beast. Wishing to move away from the traditional monstrous roar, the duo chose a more natural route, as Theo Green explains: “That’s when we decided there was a silent contemplation between the two of them. Then we have something quite unusual. It’s not a monster that comes out of the ground. It’s a meeting with God.”
Dunes is in the running for the Oscars, selected in ten categories, except that of best direction. The film, signed Denis Villeneuve, includes in its cast high-flying actors such as Oscar Isaac, Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa or Stellan Skarsgard. And after the success of the first part of a (possible) trilogy, Dunes 2 is announced for October 18, 2023.
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