Dune 2020 — Script Analysis

This following article is based on various tidbits of information gathered regarding the script by Denis Villeneuve of his upcoming Dune adaptation. The compiled material is arranged in a logical order below. I do not have access to the script myself. Without further ado, here we go:

Beginning of the Script

The script starts off with Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) landing on Arrakis. In the book, it was hinted that Duncan Idaho was previously on Arrakis to socialise with the Fremen. In the script, this appears to have been actually shown:

Furthermore, this movie will also show the Atreides family leaving their homeplanet of Caladan as they depart for Arrakis. The amount of runtime regarding this is similar to the David Lynch adaptation, with an expanded Duncan Idaho role:

The Gom Jabbar is also indeed present. Quite early in the script as well, similar to the book itself. A user asked when the scene would be and the response was followed by:

Chani

Chani (Zendaya) will be present in a limited number of scenes. She will primarily be seen in Paul’s visions throughout the movie, before finally meeting her face to face near the end of the movie:

Overtime, the relationship between Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) and Chani will develop over time, especially after his fight with Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun) and later when he discusses the visions with her:

Until eventually, near the end of the script, they will finally get together:

In terms of which part of the movie this will take place in relation to the runtime:

As audience members, we will see remnants of Chani throughout the film before finally acknowledging her and later confirming who she actually is:

In regards to her father, this is not currently known. In the books, her father was Liet Kynes, but he has been gender swapped from the books and is now portrayed in the movie by Sharon Duncan-Brewster, who will now be the mother. There were speculations that the father in the movie would be Stilgard (Javier Bardem). In regards to this speculation however, the script has not confirmed this:

Combat

The combat in the movie will primarily melee-focused, judging by what the script has said. The probable training combat requirement combined with a decent fight choreographer will mean there will be decent action/combat moments from the movie:

It is unknown if there will be any gore or slashiness present in these combat scenarios.

Dialogue

In comparison to the previous adapted scripts, Denis Villeneuve’s version appears to have the least amount of speaking roles. This is the despite the fact that renowned filmmaker Robert Myers Burnett has described the script as quite talkative. Perhaps, whilst there are less speaking roles, the characters who do talk actually talk a lot more?

Ending and Length

The script itself 130 pages long, which is correspondent to around 2 hours 25 minutes or a total of 145 minutes of runtime. As expected, this movie will cover 2/3rd the book, as there is a time gap of 5 years between a pivotal moment involving Jessica to the next:

Even though this movie is roughly over half of the novel, the film itself should stand out on its own, at least according to the Director of Photography:

Inner Monologue

There do not appear to be any inner thoughts in this version. The original book was full of inner monologue throughout its text which is what makes it difficult to adapt. To circumvent this, the script avoids such effects altogether:

Instead, the way around this is that the role of the Bene Gesserit have been elevated for the script. The actress for Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) later confirms this:

The script confirms that Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) will have the second most amount of screentime:

Whilst this messaging might appear to be woke, this is most likely not the case. Inside sources have previously reported there is no studio interference with cast members praising the accuracy of the adaption of the book. The source later says the expansion of Lady Jessica and the Bene Gesserit is simply the way to circumvent the inner monologue dilemma:

Liet Kyne’s Death

In the book, Liet Kynes dies under an exploding pre-spice mass after helping Paul Atreides and Lady Jessica escape. As this happens, he gets hallucinations of his father making Kynes doubtful of the intentions of Paul Atreides. In the upcoming movie, Liet Kynes will instead be assassinated by a Sardaukar soldier, before taking them both down under a pre-spice mass explosion:

In accordance with the chronology of the book, this will most like occur in the second half of the film.

Manipulation — Social Engineering

The Fremen believe in a prophecy in which a messiah with a reverend mother will lead their people to freedom. They refer to Paul as ‘Mahdi’, which is the Islamic term in regards to an upcoming messiah according to the Muslim theology and is directly translated into Arabic as “The Guided One”. In the original book, it is later discovered this prophecy was created by the Bene Gesserit to produce a superstition which will benefit their secretive order. This manipulation is not referred to in the David Lynch adaptation, but is present in both the Syfy miniseries and Denis Villeneuve’s vision:

Missing Characters

Not all of the significant book characters appear to have been mentioned in the script. For instance, Harah appears to be missing from the script, even though Jamis is present. This is despite the fact that IMDB lists Harah being portrayed by Gloria Obianyo, who herself posted an old Instagram of herself visiting Petra as part of the filming production in Jordan.

Furthermore, there does not appear to be any mention of Shadout Mapes or Reverend Mother Ramallo or even Princess Irulan:

This is despite the fact that the trivia section of Dune on IMDB states:

However, the IMDB trivia can be added and deleted by anyone, so this statement is somewhat doubtful. Might be true, might be not.

Rating

The age rating is not something which is definitely confirmed. People suspect it could be both PG-13 or R-Rated. Robert Myers Burnett suspects it can be PG-13. DuneInfo suspects it could be either PG-13 or R-Rated. A Russian guy with a bunch of scripts suspects it will be R-Rated:

The rating could go in either direction. If the rest of the Duniverse is taken into consideration, the franchise should become R-Rated. When adaptation happens, certain elements have to be changed for the big screen with certain areas expanded for the visual audience. The successful Dune miniseries was quite accurate to the books and this naturally made the series mature.

Recent years have shown PG-13 ratings do not necessarily mean that there will be a significant financial advantage. In 2019, 7 of the 10 flops were rated PG-13 or less, with the Joker breaking the record to become the first R-Rated movie to reach a billion dollars, in accordance to a Variety article. Dune has potential to surpass this title. Currently, 3 of the top 5 or 5 of the top 10 films in 2020 are also R-Rated in regards to the International Box Office.

Furthermore, Denis Villeneuve’s filmography is primarily filled with R-Rated films. His latest science fiction and masterpiece, Blade Runner 2049 was R-Rated and this made more money than his previous PG-13 science fiction Arrival. Arrival made $203 million dollars worldwide against Blade Runner 2049’s revenue of $259 million dollars, a difference of $56 million. Whilst Blade Runner 2049 indeed had a bigger budget than Arrival, it shows that audiences are willing for and prefer more mature content if the story is good.

This shows everyone that the age rating is not a primary factor in revenue. If there is a good marketing strategy/campaign alongside a great storyline, then the movie will generate a lot of buzz and thus produce a lot more revenue, regardless of the rating.

Dune is not designed for a teenage audience and thus should not be watered down in any way.

Trivia — Additional

The Butlerian Jihad is not mentioned by name and instead referred to as “Great Revolt”, which is a terminology also present in the actual book itself:

The secret message which Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) discovers underneath the leaf in the books does not appear to be present in the script:

However, there are secret languages present in general and translated for the audience:

The Bene Gesserit ability of Voice, which was the precursor the Jedi Mind trick, is also present:

The irregular steps to avoid the call of a sandworm in the desert is present in the script:

The ornithopter vehicles will indeed have the insect flapping ability:

Someone get’s beheaded. Unknown who:

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) will more than likely walk in this adaptation, contrary to his flying abilities in both the Lynch version and Syfy miniseries:

The adaption itself should be a gentle surprise, even for the people who have read the original book:

Dune by Firat Kocaman

Writer. Reader of Novels. Video Gamer. Documentary Watcher. Tech nerd.

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