DUNE: PART TWO Director Denis Villeneuve On Decision To Alter One Main Character’s Arc

Both of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune movies make several alterations to Frank Herbert’s novel, but by far the biggest change when it comes to an individual character is Chani’s (Zendaya) depiction in Dune: Part Two.

In the book, Chani falls in love with Paul Atreides and remains staunchly loyal to him along with Stilgar and the rest of the Fremen. However, in the movie, when “Muad’Dib” decides to embrace his destiny as Mahdi and lead his people into battle against the Harkonnens, Chani recognizes the dangers of blindly following a religious leader and putting all faith in a “prophecy” Paul has previously dismissed as nothing more than Bene Gesserit propaganda.

The final straw for Chani comes when Paul proclaims himself Emperor and offers his hand in marriage to the former ruler’s daughter, Princess Irulan. Chani walks away from her lover as the rest of the Fremen begin a holy war in his name by attacking the envoys of the universe’s great houses, and the movie ends with her setting a thumper and calling a worm with a defiant look on her face.

During an interview with Inverse, director Denis Villeneuve was asked about the change to Chani’s character and what it could mean for the final film in his trilogy, the planned adaptation of Dune: Messiah.

“I made sure that in Paul’s dramatic arc and the story, that all the elements were there, I just played with them a bit differently,” Villeneuve says. “At the end of the movie, you see that Paul made choices that in order to protect some people, he will become what he was trying to fight against.”

“It will be seen from Chani’s perspective,” he continued. “The movie is structured on the love story between Paul and Chani. The idea was to make sure that we will unfold Paul’s story through this relationship, and that the very specific [turning point of] Paul will be seen roughly more from the perspective of Chani. And that is a very important shift. I changed the nature of Chani’s character to create a perspective that I hope Frank Herbert will agree with in order to achieve his goal.”

What this means for Dune: Part Three obviously remains to be seen, but we can’t see this take on Chani accepting her position as Paul’s concubine/”side piece” as she does in the book.

Do you plan on seeing Dune: Part Two on the big screen? Drop us a comment down below.

“Those hoping for blockbuster escapism might find themselves shook by this faithful, at times borderline depressing adaptation,” we said in our review. “But Dune Part Two is Sci-fi spectacle at its finest and most audacious, as Villeneuve builds-upon and possibly surpasses (opinions will vary) his previous film with aplomb.”

The saga continues as award-winning filmmaker Denis Villeneuve embarks on Dune: Part Two, the next chapter of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel Dune, with an expanded all-star international ensemble cast. The film, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2021’s six-time Academy Award-winning Dune. 

The big-screen epic continues the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s acclaimed bestseller Dune with returning and new stars, including Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet (Wonka, Call Me by Your Name), Zendaya (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Malcolm & Marie, Euphoria), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning), Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Avengers: Endgame, Milk), Oscar nominee Austin Butler (Elvis, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood), Oscar nominee Florence Pugh (Black Widow, Little Women), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Love and Thunder), Oscar winner Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter,), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences), Léa Seydoux (James Bond, Crimes of the Future), with Stellan Skarsgård (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (45 Years, Assassin’s Creed), and Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Being the Ricardos).

Dune: Part Two will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.