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How ‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Pushes Characters to Their Breaking Points

Warner Bros./Summit Entertainment


How ‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Pushes Characters to Their Breaking Points

Denis Villeneuve pulls no punches.

The mind of French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is a complex place.  His films are known for being enigmatic, dark, and sometimes difficult to digest upon initial viewing.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give his films a chance – quite the contrary. Further examination reveals the genius behind the director’s style, decisions, and storytelling, making every one of his films a must-see for cinephiles.  

Denis Villeneuve’s feature film debut was “August 32nd on Earth.” The drama premiered to modest acclaim at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.  Villeneuve continued to make exclusively French-language films, such as the controversial “Polytechnique” and the Academy Award-nominated “Incendies.” His first English-language feature was 2013’s “Prisoners,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman.  Villeneuve followed up “Prisoners” with critically acclaimed flicks “Enemy,” “Sicario,” “Arrival,” and “Blade Runner 2049.”

Next up for Villeneuve?  One of the most highly anticipated films of 2020: “Dune.” The adaptation of Frank Herbert’s legendary sci-fi masterpiece is set to release this December.  The out-of-this-world cast of “Dune” includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, and Dave Bautista. The space epic follows Paul Atreides (Chalamet) as he travels to a dangerous planet in order to preserve his family’s legacy and protect one of the most vital substances in the universe.

The video above from Screened dissects the characters of three Villeneuve films: “Enemy,” “Prisoners,” and “Sicario.” It explores the motivations, challenges, and traits that most of Villeneuve’s characters share. The video points out how indispensable the idea of duality is to most Villeneuve films. Whether it be the internal struggles presented in “Enemy,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, or the moral dilemma faced by Hugh Jackman’s character in “Prisoners,” Villeneuve always finds a way to push his characters to their breaking points.

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