Dune: Denis Villeneuve on drastically changing clichéd character from book

Dune: Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya star in dramatic trailer

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Dune finally hit cinemas this week and fans of the franchise have been excited to see how the Frank Herbert novel has been adapted. Previously, the evildoer Vladimir Harkonnen ​has been played by Kenneth McMillan. This time around he is being portrayed by Stellan Skarsgard – but not everything is the same.

Skarsgard recently revealed, after reading the script for his character, he was a little shocked.

He said: “My first reaction was: ‘This is not much.'”

Director Villeneuve stripped down the Baron’s scenes from the book, giving him a more imposing presence when he does appear on the screen.

This is vastly different to the Baron’s presence in the novel which ​frequently shows ​him monologuing about his evil deeds before he carries them out.

Villeneuve explained: “I cut out most of the speech of the Baron. I wanted him to be a man of few words.” (Via LA Times)

Villeneuve explained that an enemy who keeps his cards close to his chest was more of a threat.

He also changed the original plotline that involved the Baron sexually abusing young enslaved boys.

He said: “I just felt that this was an idea that was a bit clichéd and didn’t age very well.”

Dune: Timothée Chalamet stars in teaser trailer with Zendaya

Although Villeneuve took out quite a bit of the Baron’s storyline, he went on to promise how he would give the foe a bigger slice of the (hopefully) upcoming Dune Part Two.

He revealed: “This movie is really focused on Paul and I brought in a little bit of the Harkonnens just for context to understand the geopolitics of the story.”

The Canadian filmmaker added: “This movie just gives a little glimpse into the Harkonnens. The second movie is much more about them.”

The star has also touched upon the previous version of the film, which was released in 1984 from director David Lynch.

Villeneuve explained he tried to “stay away” from the previous version of Dune.

He said: “I never had the chance to talk to Mr Lynch. I would love to. I don’t think he’d be interested to talk about Dune though. I don’t think he had a positive experience.

“He’s a master ​-​ one of the best filmmakers of all time ​-​ and I have massive respect for him, even though I wanted to bring a different sensibility to my version.

“I tried to stay away from anything that was linked with the Lynch movie.” (Via NME)

Villeneuve has also batted away claims that Dune boasts a “white saviour” trope, with Paul (Timothée Chalamet) taking over Arrakis as its messiah.

Speaking to The Times, he said: “It’s not a glorification [of the white saviour story] but a critique.”

He posited that Star Wars, which is hugely inspired by Dune, moved away from the “deconstruction of these myths that is in the very DNA of Dune”.

He added: “It has created a gap, and I wanted Dune itself to fill it.”

Dune is in cinemas now.

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