"Movies have been corrupted by television..."

Denis Villeneuve on Dune: Part Two — young people want longer films
The acclaimed director explains why he needed five-and-a-half hours to tell the full story of Frank Herbert’s classic on screen, and his hopes to make it a trilogy

It's Dune week people, so we're back at it. Naturally, with Villeneuve fully out on the circuit for promotion, he's saying provocative things:

“Frankly, I hate dialogue,” he says, laughing, which is a fun thing for one of the screenwriters of Dune: Part Two to say. “Dialogue is for theatre and television. I don’t remember movies because of a good line, I remember movies because of a strong image. I’m not interested in dialogue at all. Pure image and sound, that is the power of cinema, but it is something not obvious when you watch movies today. Movies have been corrupted by television.” Because TV had that golden age and execs thought films should copy its success? “Exactly.”

Villeneuve smiles. “In a perfect world,” he says, “I’d make a compelling movie that doesn’t feel like an experiment but does not have a single word in it either. People would leave the cinema and say, ‘Wait, there was no dialogue?’ But they won’t feel the lack.” So, without leaping ahead, if he makes Dune Messiah, could he make it dialogue-free? “I would absolutely adore that.” Don’t bet against him. If this second Dune makes enough money, he will be hard to stop.

Re-watching his first Dune (in the Vision Pro, naturally), you do sort of get that sense. You literally could watch it on mute and it will still be a joy to behold. Of course, Villeneuve contradicts himself earlier in this very interview!

“Also, think of 'Oppenheimer',” he continues. “It is a three-hour, rated-R movie about nuclear physics that is mostly talking. But the public was young — that was the movie of the year by far for my kids. There is a trend. The youth love to watch long movies because if they pay, they want to see something substantial. They are craving meaningful content.”

Well, I suppose he could be implying that he "hates" Oppenheimer given his dialogue assessment of the film, but we know that's not the case. There's quite the bromance going on between Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan at the moment. Almost as if they're brothers from another mother.

Meanwhile, I've written a few times now wondering out loud what Villeneuve (and Nolan) might think about the aforementioned Vision Pro, including this thought:

One other thought: will this new canvas lead to the creation of a new type of content that's different from television or film, or does it extend those concepts? Sort of in the way IMAX has been able to allow certain filmmakers to create even larger and more immersive cinema experiences, Vision Pro can do that to a new degree. That's why I've been genuinely curious what noted IMAX auteurs (and smartphone/streaming/etc haters) think about this device. The aforementioned Villeneuve and of courseChristopher Nolan. My guess is that their gut reaction will be to hate it. Perhaps less because it's from "big tech" but more because it removes the communal element of cinema.

Well, I think I was on to something, back to this interview...

The first Dune was released “into a very difficult time”, its release date shuffled around the schedules depending on lockdowns and when the Bond film No Time to Die was due out. Villeneuve was gutted. His films use immersive scale with sound and vision to blow you away, and he says the big-screen experience “is at the very heart of cinematic language”. He always watches his movies with audiences. “I need to see people react,” he says. “It’s moving. And after watching it with them, I can let the movie go.”

He's not doing that in the Vision Pro. I guess the silent Dune 3 will still be straight-to-theaters. Speaking of:

Herbert’s second Dune novel, Dune Messiah, includes a war in which 61 billion people die. One day it may become Villeneuve’s third Dune movie. He is excited by the prospect. “There is absolutely a desire to have a third one, but I don’t want to rush it,” he says. “The danger in Hollywood is that people get excited and only think about release dates, not quality.”

The good news: he's "almost done" writing it. I'm guessing it gets greenlit before Monday. (Here's an Apple News link for the main article for those who subscribe.)