- The new “Dune” stars Timothée Chalamet as the lead character, Paul Atreides, among other A-listers.
- Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgård, and Rebecca Ferguson also have major roles.
- The film, based on a 1965 novel, premiered in theaters and on HBO Max Thursday.
Once they arrive on Arrakis, the Atreides family is betrayed by rival family the Harkonnens in a Red Wedding-esque twist, but Jessica and Paul manage to escape to the desert and find refuge with the Fremen people.
Much of “Dune” focuses on Paul’s transformation from a relatively inexperienced young nobleman to the Kwisatz Haderach — an all-seeing and nearly infallible messiah whose return was prophesied by the all-female Bene Gesserit sisterhood, which Jessica is a part of.
Director Denis Villeneuve told Vanity Fair that he’s expanding the role of Lady Jessica, Paul’s mother and a member of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood. While in Herbert’s novel (and subsequent adaptations), Jessica was mainly responsible for producing an heir and savior — the Kwisatz Haderach — in the new film, she has much greater power, now helping to train and defend Paul.
“She’s a mother, she’s a concubine, she’s a soldier,” Ferguson, who plays Jessica, said. “Denis was very respectful of Frank’s work in the book, [but] the quality of the arcs for much of the women have been brought up to a new level. There were some shifts he did, and they are beautifully portrayed now.”
This woman eventually turns out to be Chani, a fearless Fremen tribe member who eventually strikes up a romance with Paul after he joins them in the desert.
“What Denis had stated to me was there was a lack of female characters in his cast, and he had always been very feminist, pro-women, and wanted to write the role for a woman,” Duncan-Brewster said.
“This human being manages to basically keep the peace amongst many people. Women are very good at that, so why can’t Kynes be a woman? Why shouldn’t Kynes be a woman?”
“As much as I deeply love the book, I felt that the baron was flirting very often with caricature,” Villeneuve said. “And I tried to bring him a bit more dimension. That’s why I brought in Stellan.”
“Stellan has something in the eyes,” he continued. “You feel that there’s someone thinking, thinking, thinking — that has tension and is calculating inside, deep in the eyes. I can testify, it can be quite frightening.”