“Quite simply, The Art And Soul Of Dune is a visual feast for the eyes. One that the reader cannot help but fall in love with.”
It’s time to explore The Art And Soul Of Dune. We invite you to grab some spice and join us.
Anyone who has seen the remake of the Frank Herbert Novel ‘Dune’ will know the sheer magnitude of the designs and art on display. It is breathtaking. A masterclass in design. A visual feast for the eyes of the audience. To say it is an epic undertaking would be a huge understatement. But without the art designs that have been created for the look, the film wouldn’t be the spectacle it is. That is where the book ‘The Art And Soul Of Dune.’ comes in. Within its pages, you will discover the source of these incredible looks. Every detail is here for us to marvel at. Quite simply, the book is a visual feast for the eyes. One that the reader cannot help but fall in love with. What we see on the screen is represented here. And it is beautiful.
THE ART AND SOUL OF DUNE BY TANYA LAPOINTE
Just by looking at the front cover, we can get a feel as to what awaits inside. A wonderful artistic drawing of a Sandworm greets us. Larger than life and ready to eat or destroy anything that disturbs the sand where he resides. His body adorns the spine and back page of the book, giving us an even bigger perception of how mighty the creature is. It radiates power. And that is simply the slipcover the book comes in.
As we remove the book from its slipcase, We are given a fantastic representation of the surface of the planet Arrakis. A Freman stands watchful on a rock formation, observing a ship take to the skies above the sandy landscape. As we enter the pages, we are astounded by yet another visual representation of a Sandworm. However, this time, it bursts from under the sand of the planet, its jaws wide open as a lone figure stands on the plains in front of it. Several other wonderful illustrations continue our journey.
We come now to the foreword. And who better to contribute this than the director of the film himself, Denis Villeneuve. The film is Villeneuve’s vision of the material. But he describes how he knew that production designer Patrice Vermette was the perfect artist for the job. Villeneuve describes how Vermette’s wild ideas and fierce passion were needed to bring the film to life. He compares Herbert’s novel when it was first published in 1965 to Vermette’s production design for the film. How they both had to walk a path into unknown landscapes for the future. Villeneuve also goes on to describe how he felt it was important that the Dune fans recognized Herbert’s description of his universe. And how they tried to be as faithful to that as possible. And how once you start crossing the desert, you cannot stop. You must continue forward.
We now come to the introduction to the book. And it is a great surprise to discover that Frank Herbert’s son Brian has contributed to it. Alongside Kevin J. Anderson, he describes how his father’s vision required a very large canvas. And how he foresaw a cinematic vision of Dune before anyone else. How in his head, Frank Herbert played out something that would be the most revered science fiction novel of all time.
Frank Herbert instilled in his son his visions of writing, as to be seen through the lens of a camera. How through the pages and passages, the reader would get a full vision of the characters and locations in the book. Brian Herbert recalls his father reading a passage to his mother. About a young man named Paul Atreides and how he was forced to put his hand inside a mysterious box. All the while, an old woman held a poisoned needle to his neck.
THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
We now come to the first chapter of the book. It is here where we discover the embryonic stages leading to the birth of Villeneuve’s finest creation. How during a 2016 press conference for his film ‘Arrival‘, the visionary went into detail about his dream project. Thankfully for him, producers Mary Parent and Cale Boyter were actively seeking to gain the rights to the book. Both being fans of the novel, they had their desire to helm a new film version of Herbert’s work.
The passage describes how the meetings with Herbert’s estate went well and how they came to an agreement. Legendary Pictures optioned the film rights and called Denis Villeneuve, who couldn’t believe his dream project was becoming a reality. It took fifteen years to get the rights to the book. It took fifteen minutes to get the director.
ONE SMALL STEP, ONE GIANT LEAP
The chapter continues with the story. Villeneuve began adapting the novel for the screen in early 2017. He decided to reach out and ask Academy-Award-winning writer Eric Roth to help him in crafting the screenplay. Thankfully, Roth was a huge fan of the novel too. The chapter continues with the story of how the film progressed. Villeneuve was busy with ‘Blade Runner 2049‘ at the time but he never stopped with his writing of the screenplay for Dune. The chapter is full to the brim of behind-the-scenes photography and production sketches to go alongside the text. The cast and crew are pictured on the sets featured in the film and we get a great account of how the process came together. Actress Zendaya is pictured with Villeneuve in a desert in Jordan. The film crew filming at dawn in the United Arab Emirates.
We now come to Caladan. Here we will discover the look of the Atreides homeworld. We are greeted by some concept art of the Atreides castle as well as an omitted scene featuring Paul walking around at night with some soldiers. The castle and the Atreides family itself are covered in detail before we concentrate on Paul. We see a design concept of his official uniform alongside photos of Timothee Chalamet as the character. And follow through the pages with the character, looking at his room inside the castle.
We now come to the Duke Leto Atreides. Again, we are rewarded with costume designs of his armor and his walking outfits. We find the concept art of the Caladan Cemetary. We discover the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and their ship. It has purposely been designed to resemble an egg, the symbol of fertility. Lady Jessica makes an appearance, her costumes on display here. In addition, it is revealed that every costume she will wear has some tie to the past.
THE REVEREND MOTHER
Charlotte Rampling’s character of the Reverand Mother is delved into. Again, her costume design is presented to us. In some respects, her costumes are more in line with something worn at a funeral, complete with a dark veil. The Gom Jabbar sequence is dissected, this vital piece of both the novel and the film is looked into in great detail. Duncan Idaho decides to grace us with his presence. As does Gurney Halleck. The shield defense that the Atreides soldiers employ gets its page. Everything, from each character’s costume design to the look of the castle’s interior is looked into in fine detail. Even the ships themselves, from Duncan’s ship through to the Atreides flagship are covered in this section.
We now come across the world of Giedi Prime. This is the homeworld of the villainous Harkonnens. We are immediately confronted with an early version of the planet’s landscape exploration. The entire architecture of the Baron’s chambers has been created to resemble the skeleton of a whale. Rib-like structures permeate the Baron’s quarters. We are suddenly approached by the Baron himself. Concept art of his appearance is matched with photographs of actor Stellan Skarsgaard in character. The Baron is a horrible creature to look at, all fat and sweat but is the perfect embodiment of what the character should look like. He indeed looks like a beast in the skin of a man.
The make-up effects that went into creating this version of the villainous Baron are covered here in great detail. Every costume that we will see the character in is presented to us here. We are also introduced to Glossu Rabban Harkonnen otherwise known as The Beast Rabban.
PITER DE VRIES AND THE HARKONNEN ARMY
The character of Piter De Vries also decides to emerge from the shadows. Actor David Dastmalchian is pictured wearing his costume alongside details of how the actor couldn’t shave his head for the role, due to commitments on another film. Instead, the actor endured a three-hour make-up session every day to cover his hair and his eyebrows before slipping on the costume of the character.
We also meet the Harkonnen soldiers and their deadly weaponry. Their design and their fighting style are covered in this glorious section. As are the ships that the Harkonnen army will fly into battle with against the Atreides on Arrakis. Even the Harkonnen Crawlers get their chance to appear.
We have traveled to the prison planet of Salusa Secundus. Here, the criminals serve time for their crimes against the Imperium. Not many inmates survive the harsh, unyielding conditions. And those that do are recruited into the Emperor’s army and are trained to become the lethal Sardaukar. These are the most hardened soldiers throughout the universe. We are afforded a look at this bleak and unwelcoming planet through concept drawings and stills from the film itself. The outfit of the Sardaukar is presented to us, once again through concept drawings. The war ritual and the Sardaukar combat are examined, their bladed weapons sending shivers of fear through us. This brief but necessary excursion fills us in on what we need to know about the Sardaukar and their fighting techniques.
We finally touch down on the world of Arrakis. We are immediately drawn to the two moons orbiting the planet. One appears as if it has a hand mark on its surface. While the other has what looks to be a desert mouse on its surface. Duncan Idaho’s spacesuit is also looked into here, ready for the character to make his space dive. A production still and an early concept art piece relate to his landing on the surface of Arrakis. We are granted an extensive look at the Spaceport on the planet where the Atreides family and their army will arrive to take control.
But the most extensive look of all is reserved for the Arrakeen City itself. This incredible piece of production design is highlighted here to the full. It does appear to be other-worldly in some respects. But if one was to take the time to look at the city, we can’t help but feel it reminds us of an earthly place. And we would be correct. The city resembles an Egyptian city. Or an Arab city somewhere in the desert. It has been designed this way, in what can be described as almost like a Muslim city of worship.
Everything about the city, in particular, the Residency and the rooms it includes are covered here. Paul’s room is looked into. Here, he will suffer an assassination attempt that ultimately fails. We enter the Arakeen aircraft bay to see where the ships owned by the Atreides are stored. We take a good look at the Ornithopters. These crafts resemble flying insects with their wings and sounds.
THE SPICE HARVESTER AND CARRYALL
The spice Harvester and its companion vehicle, the Carryall are delved into. These vital pieces of equipment are what mines the all-important spice from the surface of Arrakis. The designs and inner workings of the Harvester are looked into in great detail, as are the Carryalls. These play a vital part in an exciting sequence in the film where a Sandworm attacks a Harvester. We also take a look at the outfit of a spice worker. It is presented to us via a concept drawing of what the costume will look like onscreen. We also see the spice refinery and the spice silos. These silos are where the vital spice is stored, ready for collection to be distributed throughout the universe.
One of the biggest sequences in the film is the attack by the Harkonnens on the Atreides family and their compatriots. It is more of a massive full-scale invasion, one that has been in the planning before the Duke set foot on the planet. Film stills follow the text, telling us the story behind the sequence and its place in the overall story. It is nasty, brutal, and uncompromising.
The shield generators that are destroyed by the turncoat Doctor Wellington Yueh are granted their passage of text. The concept art of the Sardauker attack on the Atreides forces spans two pages for us to digest. We take a look at the Baron’s feast. Again, concept art and film stills portray this scene. We also get to see the reptilian creature that will form the centerpiece of the Baron’s table. More concept art describes to us the Baron’s recovery after a poison attack by Duke Leto Atreides, which leads to the Duke’s untimely demise.
PALMS OF FIRE AND REIGN OF FIRE
The concept art alongside film stills shows us the burning of the palm trees inside the walls of the city. The fiery hell that has been unleashed is given to us in every detail. The reign of fire that descends from the sky is also featured here in glorious detail. As is Duncan’s escape. We see Duncan’s view of the attack on the residency. We also see the Harkonnen Ornithopter that Duncan steals after his massacre of Sardauker and Harkonnen soldiers that cross his path. The accompanying text tells us everything and more that we wish to know about this part of the attack sequence.
We now reach the final part of the book. And the final part of the film. It is here where the film will end, exactly halfway through the source novel. We explore the aftermath of the Harkonnen attack and the survivors. It is here where we will follow Paul and his mother Jessica on their journey through the desert in search of the Freman. After escaping their assigned fate, both mother and son must come together to survive the rigors of the desert. After viewing the destruction of Arakeen from atop a dune, there is nowhere for them to go.
We follow the cast and crew as they film this part of the book for the screen. And delve into the Freman’s Fremkit for their survival in the scorching sands. We come across a cute Muad’Dib, the Freman name for a desert mouse. And, of course, we have a too close for comfort date with a Sandworm, up close and personal. These creatures are looked into with fine detail.
The various designs for the Sandworms are presented to us here. The illustrations show us the creature’s shape and movement including variations of its mouth and teeth. Its emergence from beneath the sand is examined and brought to us via concept art. Designs showing us how the Sandworm moves, eats, and attacks are also spread across two pages for us to marvel at. The Nexus, where Kynes and Duncan will lead Paul and Jessica is presented via concept art. The Sardaukar attack is shown being filmed between the soundstages. Kynes’ office and botanical lab are here, in full-color detail including the Fremen plant-growing systems that appear in the film.
We finally encounter the Fremen. These people live in the deep desert. Governed by rules and rituals that have kept them alive. They have suffered eighty years of oppression while being ruthlessly hunted by the Harkonnens. Production photography and illustrations tell us the story of this part of the film. The art for the Fremen’s space armor and Paul’s spice-infused visions are presented across two pages. The look and design of the stillsuits are allowed to us. We meet Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen as played by Javier Bardem. Co-star Jason Momoa expresses his excitement at filming a scene with the Spanish actor, and how Bardem gave a masterclass in acting. We are given instructions on how to perform the sand walk needed to avoid the Sandworms. And we also take a look at the vicious-looking Crysknives, forged from the tooth of a Sandworm.
Although she appears in a rather limited capacity, we are introduced to the character of Chani. She will be a vital part of the second part of the story. And is portrayed onscreen by Zendaya. Paul has dreams about Chani before he sets foot on Arrakis and this plays a large part in his Fremen-like abilities before he sets foot into the desert. We are given a full introduction to the character as Zendaya discusses her approach to playing the future wife of Paul Atreides. We see stills of her in her stillsuit and her white dress she appears in during Paul’s dreams.
The character of Jamis is also introduced here. And we end with a look at the Wormriders. This is once again a vital part of the story moving forward. And will play a vital part in the climax of the second film that is incoming. The artwork that accompanies this brief passage is exemplary, as is every piece we have seen throughout the pages.
Tanya Lapointe has created something that will blow the reader away. Every part of the film is covered within the pages and the author makes sure nothing is left out or ignored. This is how it should be done. It skips over nothing and gives the reader a feeling of wonder. The art is amazing, the behind-the-scenes photography dazzles us, and the writing is above reproach. The film is epic in scale. But Tanya Lapointe’s incredible book matches its stride for stride.
This book is a highly prized addition to my collection. And it should be owned by anyone with an interest in film. Sit back, watch the film, read this book and prepare to be amazed by what you see, read and discover.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!