The day after hosting a series of highly-anticipated and highly-limited IMAX previews, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have dropped a second trailer for Dune! Let’s break it down!
First, have a look at this absolute DOOZY of a trailer:
What an incredible ride. There’s so much to see! I can’t help but note how…alien…it all feels. Like all of Denis Villeneuve’s films, Dune will assuredly be a one-of-a-kind tour-de-force of filmmaking.
Let’s jump right into the break down!
WARNING: MAJOR DUNE SPOILERS AHEAD!
We open this trailer with a wide shot of the desert of Arrakis. Easy to miss in the immensity of the dunes: ornithopters fly high above the giant sand structures. What I can’t show in this breakdown: the super-cool humming that is happening over this shot. Enya, is that you? Hans Zimmer’s score is front and center in this trailer (just like in the first one) and we are immediately transported to a land that is ruled by its harsh climate and the equally-harsh people that can hang on there. Indeed, in the very next shot, we see one of those people.
“My planet Arrakis is so beautiful when the sun is low. Rolling over the sands, you can see spice in the air.”
This narration by Chani is the first dialogue in the new trailer and, to be honest, I was stunned for many reasons (not counting the bad water discipline by Chani). First of all, no such narration happens in the novel, so clearly this is some sort of framing device created entirely for the movie, similar to the legendary 11-minute intro at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Rings. I’m 100% here for it, and the fact that these lines are delivered by the incomparable Zendaya is all the more awesome. Clearly, Zendaya’s Chani will be at the emotional center of the film and a gateway into the world of the Fremen. The question that might be raised by this sequence: is this a dream? More on that in a second.
The second thing that stuns me is that it never occurred to me that a native of Arrakis would find the planet beautiful. She sounds so romantic about her home world that the next few scenes are heartbreaking.
Finally, the cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous. Director of Photography Greig Fraser is an Academy Award nominee and this isn’t the first desert he’s shot (he shot Rogue One and Zero Dark Thirty). I think we’re bound to see some mind-bending visuals – hell, this trailer might get nominated for an Oscar.
“The outsiders ravage our lands in front of our eyes.”
This shot is awesome – so weird! I can hear people thinking “what is that thing??” I’m guessing that’s a troop transport or perhaps a spice harvester, probably piloted by Harkonnens. On the lower right side of the frame, we see what are almost certainly Fremen lighting the way through a sandstorm. But maybe not!
If these are in fact Fremen, then what we’re seeing in the above shot is a fully zipped-up stillsuit. If not, then it’s some kind of Harkonnen equivalent. Either way, I’ve got to admit: this costume design is FULLY BADASS. This looks like something straight out of r/ImaginaryTechnology. So bold. It is obvious right away that this film will be nominated for Academy Awards for costume design and art design.
“Their cruelty to my people is all I’ve known.”
The reason I tend to think this is a Harkonnen vehicle is because they launch a bunch of missiles at the people walking through the desert as Chani narrates how her people have been ravaged by outsiders.
Heaps of burning bodies litter the desert floor as a towering brutalist structure hangs forebodingly in the background. During this sequence, we also get a few quick shots of Chani and her people fleeing, along with one of their primary antagonists: the deadly Beast Rabban played by Dave Bautista.
“What’s to become of our world?”
Clearly we’ve got some space stuff happening here. My best guess is that these are Spacing Guild Heighliners hanging in orbit above Arrakis. What’s surprising is how many of them there are – I count fourteen.
As Chani calls out Paul’s name, he wakes up in the same bed we saw in the first trailer, and we’re lead to believe that perhaps this is our very first introduction to Paul in the film. What better way to transition between an expository sequence while also suggesting Paul’s latent-but-awakening prescience abilities? Indeed, in one of the next scenes in the trailer, he talks to Duncan Idaho about his dreams.
Duncan Idaho (played by Jason Mamoa in bit of casting I find to be perfect) is wearing a surprisingly contemporary flight suit as he lands his craft in an Atreides hangar to start off the next portion of the trailer.
Idaho is known to be an awesome ‘thopter pilot, but the craft shown just before this trailer isn’t a ‘thopter – maybe that wasn’t even him piloting and is instead a bit of clever editing? In any case, Duncan is greeted by Paul in the hangar.
“Dreams make good stories, but everything important happens when we’re awake.”
Jason Mamoa really might be the coolest dude alive right now, and he’s doubly cool as he dispenses wisdom to the clearly immature Paul. This scene gives us a lot of insight into both characters and what they’re all about: Paul is clearly written to be an immature boy with his head in the clouds (that old trope) while Duncan is set up as the veteran warrior with advice in spades.
One thing I didn’t particularly care for in this scene: how casual the two of them are with each other. In addition to dropping all of the formal titles and language that should go with addressing the heir of House Atreides, Duncan is also quite handsy with Paul. What’s with all the tapping and shoving??
Alright, HERE WE GO!
This entire sequence is absolutely not in the book, and it looks INCREDIBLE. There’s so much to break down in this portion:
We see what appears to be one of the turrets from Portal landing on the Atreides planet of Caladan. It’s like an orb with legs! And look how enormous it is – check the scale relative to the trees and battalions of humans lined up to greet the guests!
The Atreides braintrust is lined up to greet their guests. Left to right, we see Gurney Halleck, Leto Atreides, Thufir Hawat, the Lady Jessica, and Paul Atreides.
Again, I stress, this scene is not in the books, but it will clearly serve to set up the events of the film and why these folks are traveling to Arrakis in the first place. Leto’s narration says it all:
“We are House Atreides. There is no call we do not answer, there is no faith that we betray. The emporer asks us to bring peace to Arrakis – House Atreides accepts!”
There ya go: the game is officially afoot.
During Leto’s narration, we get several WTF-level shots, including this shot of what appears to be a Guild Heighliner launching a landing craft (presumably the one from above) down to the surface of Caladan. The design of the Heighliner is completely alien and I immediately want to know more about it: what’s the blue light? How big is it? Is it related to EVE from Wall-E??
Again, I stress: this movie will be nominated for the Academy Award for Achievement in Costume Design. It’s so regal! And what’s that, a scroll?
Who is this person and why is their bone structure so perfect?!?! I’m guessing this can only be one thing: the envoy of the Spacing Guild (or of House Corrino!?!) delivering the Emperor’s orders to Duke Leto. Are those Guild representatives in the black and white and orange in the background?
As Paul narrates, we get a few quick action shots that include explosions and crysknives and Lady Jessica looking like the Bene Gesserit witch that she most certainly is. This shot is awesome and does a great job at hinting that Jessica is not just a damsel in distress: she’s very, very dangerous. Is this from her trial with the Water of Life, and what’s the writing on her face and behind her?
The sequence ends with this shot Jamis saying “come with me.” This is interesting for two reasons: we think of Jamis as a bit of a an antagonist in the story, so to see him so inviting is surprising. The other thing is that this shot provides one of our best looks yet at the Eyes of Ibad, the blue-within-blue eyes that are distinctive of the Fremen.
Okay, this is pants-shittingly scary. As Gurney narrates, we see rows upon rows of humans strung upside-down on what we’re hearing are the pain amplifiers. Ramsey Bolton, is that you? Oh, nope, it’s just the Harkonnens. Is this their homeworld, Geidi Prime?
I’m loving the architecture – is this Giger-inspired? Will the annoying Jodorowsky’s Dune fans flip over this nod to the film-that-never-was?
“You need to be ready. You’ve never met Harkonnens before – they’re not human, they’re bruuuutal.”
Josh Brolin’s line delivery here gives me chills, and serves to set up our antagonists quite well. Between the pain amplifiers and the dabbing of the blood on foreheads and the nasty planet they call home, I’m guessing the Harkonnens will really terrify audiences. Awesome production design.
Here we see the Harkonnen battalions presenting themselves in front of…what’s that, a statue? And are those troop transport ships in the hazy background. This place looks like a real shit hole, which is exactly how Geidi Prime is described.
That in the absolute hell is this tree of light thing that Jessica and Paul are looking at? Is this some kind of Bene Gesserit learning tool? Is that shiga wire? Does anybody understand any of the words I’m typing??
Alright, I’m terrified.
This is our first real look at the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the “Big Bad” of the movie. Leader of the Harkonnens, Vladimir is dead-set on wresting Arakkis back from the newly-landed Atreides. In the novel, the Baron is described as being “immense” and is supported by floating suspensors that keep his enormous heft off of the ground – guess that’s why he’s rising up here, but what’s up with that cape thing? This is all very creepy. Also, does this have a bit of a Darth Vader-in-the-hyperbaric-chamber vibe?
Now that you’re looking at the Baron, look back at the image of the soldiers in formation on Geidi Prime – is that Vladimir Harkonnen centered in front of them???
Standing in front of the Baron is his twisted mentat Piter De Vries, played by David Dastmalchian.
The mood has now been adequately set, so the trailer kicks off the action one of those classic Hans Zimmer bass rumbles as Gurney Halleck looks to the sky and mumbles “God in Heaven.”
This is Dune, man – which God is he talking about? And what’s that in the sky?!? I’m thinking is another Guild Heighliner hanging in orbit, only this time it’s carrying Harkonnen military technology.
“Get everything with guns off the ground! Go!”
Check out the shields rippling blue as the Atreides transports are engulfed in flames.
Here comes another world you’ll have to break out your Dune glossary for: Sardaukar, the Emperor’s elite fighting force.
Are these Sardaukar? Are they Sardaukar in Harkonnen livery? We don’t know yet, but they seem to be wearing self-contained battlesuits and wielding some pretty sick edged weapons.
We get lots of action shots late in the trailer, including some lasers. Paul narrates with, “they’re picking my family off one-by-one.”
“Dad, what if I’m not the future of House Atreides?” Again, not super formal and definitely not something from the novel, but it’s…appropriate given Paul’s journey. And, for anyone that’s read the books, this shot of Paul’s head in the foreground with the worm in focus behind is…foreboding….
I’ve heard it mentioned #online that the mouth of the sandworm looks like an eye. Yes, it does, and I am confident this is not an accident.
Liet Kynes, with Maker Hooks! #WormSign #WormRiders
For what it’s worth, I have zero problem with Denis Villeneuve changing Kynes to be a female in his adaptation. It doesn’t really matter, so why not?
Hand-to-Hand combat in the desert!
Notice how the Fremen are rising out of the sand to confront the Sardaukar – I believe a scene very similar to this one is described in the novel. Something that’s not in the novel, however: Paul being there.
That armor…what’s going on here? Is it gold? Whose colors are gold, and is it mechanized somehow?
I actually have some issues with this, as it is perhaps the lease-believable shot in the trailer in terms of the CGI. That said, lot’s of people #online are saying that this must be some kind of dream sequence and I think I’m pretty on-board with that. If that’s the case, well then I’ll buy it.
Our final real shot of the film is Chani and Paul looking all-business. This has got to be near the end of the film, or another dream sequence – notice the blue-within-blue eyes. It should take Paul months or years to develop the eyes that signify extreme spice addiction. Either way, it’s very cool, and as Hans Zimmer’s score swells, we’re hit with the title card:
D U N C
I love it. I love that you can see the little planet in the middle of the “E” with the eclipse going on. I love the alient glyphs swirling around behind the title. I love all of it. I want to see it TWICE TOMORROW.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until October 22.