It’s undeniable the impact that Star Wars has had on the movie world. Not only did the original film franchise revolutionise special effects in films and create a cultural phenomenon that is still going strong to this day, but it is also the gold standard by which almost all sci-fi movies are compared. Which can be a problem when you’re making a sci-fi movie that, much like most of the first Star Wars movie, is set in a desert.
This is a challenge that faces Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune movies, which despite having very different stories, also share a lot of similarities. Most commonly the desert setting which is very much reminiscent of the planet Tatooine from Star Wars: A New Hope, a planet and style that has Star Wars films have often returned to in the years since. Even Villeneuve himself acknowledged this similarity when he referred to his initial vision for the adaptation when he called Dune “Star Wars for adults” due to the way it focuses on geopolitics over space battles. Dune star Jason Momoa once likened his character, the warrior Duncan Idaho, to the Han Solo of the film.
Dune cinematographer Greig Fraser, who himself has worked on Rogue One and the first season of The Mandalorian, is also aware of those obvious comparisons. In a recent interview with Collider, Fraser described how he has taken great lengths to ensure that the new Dune film will still maintain an original look of its own in an attempt to avoid the obvious style of Star Wars:
It was quite fun because I had to forget a lot of Star Wars when I was making Dune. It wasn’t hard, though. Denis and I spoke clearly about how the film should look and should feel, and the formats and this and that, so it was not hard to swerve and change lanes. There were some similarities like the deserts. I mean listen, ultimately, I’m positive George Lucas was inspired by Dune when he made Star Wars. I don’t know if that’s sacrilegious to talk about, but there are a lot of similarities in some areas, so you could tell he was definitely influenced by that. So, I had to be careful doing both [Dune and The Mandalorian] and not to repeat myself. Also, not just for the sake of the movie, but for fun. I hate to do the same thing twice.
I’m really hyped for the upcoming Dune films. Not only do they draw on a great story from Frank Herbert, but in Villeneuve, who has arguably crafted some of the finest sci-fi films of the past few years in arrival and Blade Runner 2049, they certainly have a director who knows how to tell an incredibly deep and immersive story in a world that looks simply stunning. If he can live up to that reputation with Dune, it could easily be the defining sci-fi movie of the next few years.
Last Updated: June 5, 2020