Denis Villeneuve, the director of the upcoming space opera Dune, apparently spent close to twelve months perfecting the design of the sand worms, a species of giant insects which inhabit (and terrorize) the desert planet on which his film is set.
“We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand,” the filmmaker told Empire Magazine. “It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough.”
This bit of news, which may very well seem trivial to those unfamiliar with author Frank Herbert’s beloved magnum opus, is in fact significant for two reasons.
First, the sand worms rank as some of the most iconic monsters in all of science fiction, making pressure on Villeneuve’s shoulders as heavy as was that on Peter Jackson’s when it came to designing Smaug for his Hobbit trilogy. Second, the sand worms are a crucial part of Dune‘s story, and the fact that Villeneuve’s team is handling them with extra care gives us still more incentive to believe his vision of the source material may finally become the first successful adaptation in the history of cinema.
Although the sand worms are larger and more fearsome than the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi, the nomadic tribes who share their planet found ways to train and even ride them – a sequence we’re sure to see in Villeneuve’s project, and one that we hope will rival the Banshee scene from James Cameron’s Avatar.
Dune is set to release this December, and will star Timothee Chalamet alongside Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Jason Momoa and Oscar Isaac.