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Dune 2’s Painstaking & Meticulous Process For Picking Sand Dunes Detailed By Director

Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve details the difficult search for the perfect type of sand for the sequel. Recently delayed to 2024, the second part of Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel continues following the journey of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) with the Fremen people on Arrakis as he wages a war of retribution against House Harkonnen. The first part of the adaptation debuted in 2021 and received much acclaim for bringing the barren and deadly desert planet to life, with Dune winning Academy Awards for its production design by Patrice Vermette and cinematography by Greig Fraser.

During a recent interview with Empire after Dune 2’s release date delay, the director detailed the surprisingly difficult search for the perfect sand for the sequel. Before filming, Villeneuve, Vermette, and Fraser spent an inordinate amount of time in the desert searching for the perfectly shaped sand dunes. In the end, their experience with sand echoes the famous words of Anakin Skywalker, “It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” Read what Villeneuve shared below:

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The first part of Villeneuve’s Dune was widely praised for bringing Arrakis to life in awe-inspiring detail. Its exterior sequences were filmed almost entirely on location, with the Arrakis scenes shot between the Wadi Rum in Jordan and the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi. Because these desert scenes were shot in multiple locations, Vermette carried bottles of sand with him throughout filming to ensure that its color and texture were consistent from location to location. This type of attention to detail is why Dune’s production design was so visually stunning, and why Vermette won his first Academy Award.

The reason why Villeneuve, Vermette, and Fraser had to start from scratch is because the sequel doesn’t repeat a single location. In turn, the team had to scour the world’s deserts for completely new locations to double as Arrakis, while also remaining faithful to the first film. In the end, the sequel’s scenes on Arrakis, which include Paul riding a sandworm and raising up an army, were filmed in different parts of Abu Dhabi. As an epic war film, Dune: Part Two also had to establish new settings because it differs drastically from the first film, which was more contemplative.

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