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A combat lesson raises the stakes in this scene from the latest film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s futuristic science-fiction novel “Dune,” in theaters and on HBO Max.
Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, the son of a duke who is taking over as ruler of the desert planet Arrakis. In this sequence, Paul trains with one of his father’s aides, Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), who tests his skills in swordplay.
Narrating the scene, the director Denis Villeneuve said that it needed to serve four purposes. First, it had to establish the relationship between Paul and Gurney. Second, it should provide more context surrounding the Atreides move to Arrakis. Third, it had to convey the idea that Paul has been training for combat but has never experienced real violence. And finally, the director wanted to introduce the concept of the Holtzman shields, which protect people from fast objects, making bullets obsolete and forcing combat to once again be waged by swords rather than guns.
Villeneuve worked with the fight coordinator Roger Yuan to build the scene using a Filipino martial-arts style developed in the 1950s called Balintawak Eskrima, which involves blocking the opponent’s attack with a weapon and a free hand. And the director said he worked with his cinematographer, Greig Fraser, to shoot the fight as if they were shooting a dance performance. “The goal was to embrace the complexity of the movements with objective camera angles,” Villeneuve said.
Read the “Dune” review.
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