Christopher Nolan: ‘Dune’ Has One of the Greatest Blends of Practical and VFX Effects I’ve Ever Seen

“Dune” made a strong showing at the U.S. box office this weekend, opening at the higher end of projections with $40 million. Of all the moviegoers who became fans of Denis Villeneuve’s latest science-fiction offering, fellow filmmaker Christopher Nolan might be the most high profile. The “Tenet” and “Dunkirk” Oscar nominee chatted with Villeneuve for a recent episode of “The Director’s Cut” podcast and had nothing but raves to share over “Dune.”

“It’s one of the most seamless marriages of live action photography and computer generated visual effects that I’ve seen,” Nolan said. “It’s very, very compelling at every turn.”

Nolan continued, “Your entire team did an absolute incredible job. I think this film is going to introduce a whole new generation of fans to ‘Dune’ who have never read the book or encourage fans to go read the book. I think it’s an incredible piece of work. I’ve had the luxury of seeing it a couple times now, and each time I watch it I discover new things, new details to the world. The way in which it’s made is for the big screen. It’s a real pleasure and a real gift to film fans everywhere.”

Villeneuve had a similar rave for Nolan’s most recent directorial effort, the time-bending spy actioner “Tenet.” As the “Dune” director shared on the ReelBlend podcast: “I was blown away by ‘Tenet,’ I think it’s a masterpiece. I think it’s a movie that’s an incredible cinematic achievement. I think that it’s a very complex movie, I had so much fun, I saw it several times and each time it was a blast and I think the level of mastery of Christopher Nolan is unmatched.”

As for the visual effects of “Dune,” IndieWire currently ranks Villeneuve’s latest as the frontrunner in the Oscar race for Best Visual Effects. The director’s last science-fiction tentpole, “Blade Runner 2049,” won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. IndieWire’s Bill Desowitz writes: “Villeneuve’s sweeping ‘Dune’ leads the way in the VFX race as a cross between ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Star Wars.’ DNEG created spectacular VFX for the otherworldly film, overseen by two-time Oscar-winning production VFX supervisor Paul Lambert and Oscar-winning SFX supervisor Gerd Nefzer.”

Desowitz continues, “Shot in Budapest, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Norway, the work is both epic and intimate, from the wind blown sand, to the raging sandstorms (done practically at the director’s request), to the flying insect-like ornithopters (requiring a special in-camera setup and backed by photoreal exteriors) to the iconic CG sandworms, which cause the entire desert to vibrate with the help of custom-built mechanics.”

“Dune” is now playing in theaters nationwide and streaming on HBO Max.


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