Known for his indelible imagery in movies, Dennis Villeneuve is back with another visual delight for his audience. With his science-fiction epic, Villeneuve has included breathtaking landscapes to capture the expansive and overwhelming nature of the fictional world in Dune.
From vast blue and white oceanic landscapes to infinitely extending deserts — the movie captures it all. As much as the movie looks visually appealing, the real-time conditions of filming in different locations have their own challenges. But they also have their own merits.
‘Dune’ was shot in several locations
The movie was shot in several countries around the world to perfectly portray the land that inhabits the dry, sandy lands of Arrakis and the ocean planet Caladan. The in-studio shooting of the film was completed in Origo Film Studios in Budapest, Hungary — the same place where Blade Runner 2049 was filmed.
For the watery parts of the movie, that primarily feature Caladan, Villeneuve shot in Stadlandet, Norway. Arrakis’ depiction in the movie was divided between a couple of locations. The breathtaking scenes that feature the arid and extremely rocky region of Arrakis were shot in Wadi Rum, which is Jordan’s largest valley.
The location also boasts features in movies like The Martian, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, etc. But a large number of scenes in the movie feature the desert in all its beautiful yet frightening glory. Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates featured in those scenes.
Since a great chunk of the movie involved the cast to be shooting in the dry and hot weather of the desert, the cast faced some obvious challenges. But the location had its upsides too.
The absence of a green screen helped the cast
In a recent interview with Variety, Rebecca Ferguson, who plays Lady Jessica in the film, noted one of the positives to come out of shooting in their desert scenes in a real desert.
“It was so lovely not filming against any form of screen,” Ferguson said. “We had our imagination, whether or not we looked at storyboards or misinterpret size and shape — it was our reality.”
Being in the desert, whether it was Jordan or Abu Dhabi, Villeneuve thinks, helped his actors.
“My cinematographer said, ‘Even if you don’t believe in god when you would walk in the desert in Jordan, you would start to believe because it’s so impressive,” Villeneuve said. “To be in contact with the gigantism of the landscape, I think, helped the actors to understand the relationship with nature and something that is bigger than you.”
Ferguson also pointed out that Villeneuve’s visual effects team worked on location as well.
The movie features fictional sandworms that guard a magical drug, called “the spice,” which is capable of giving superhuman physical and mental abilities. The realistic portrayal of these elements required the visual effects team to be present on set as well.
Villeneuve added that having the cast in that environment helped to bring that idea of the sandworm to life.
When will ‘Dune’ release?
How successful were the beautiful landscapes in representing the otherworldly setting of Dune? It will be clear soon.
The movie, after completing the season participating in multiple film festivals will release in theaters on Oct. 22. It will debut on HBO Max the same day.