Video Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Life came full circle for the cast and crew of the sci-fi operatic adventure ‘Dune: Part 2’ who descended upon Abu Dhabi on Sunday night to roll out their spectacle of a film, shot partly in the UAE capital.

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Replete with opulence and austere grandeur, just like the signature of the ‘Dune’ franchise, the Middle East premiere held at the Vox Cinemas in Al Maryah Island saw Canadian director Denis Villeneuve and actors Josh Brolin and Dave Bautista walk the red carpet and mingle with fans, take selfies, and sign posters of ‘Dune: Part 2”.

“The desert and me, it’s a love affair. It’s unconditional love. It’s brutal but it’s something that nourishes my soul deeply. It’s a perfect love affair and I am always enchanted,” said Villeneuve to Gulf News.

And what surprised him the most, asked another reporter on the red carpet.

“The fog was mesmerising and that was something that surprised me and I used it for the film too,” added Villeneuve.

‘Dune: Part 2’ showcases several portions of Abu Dhabi’s desert landscape in all its glorious splendour.

It’s the second time that Villeneuve has chosen to film significant portions of his sci-fi saga in the Middle East. For the instalment, he only had less than a week of shoot in Abu Dhabi, the second instalment extended to nearly a month.

Villeneuve, who is the visionary architect behind the cinematic masterpiece and spent nearly a month filming in Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Desert, led his entourage minus his key players like Zendaya, Timothee Chalamet, and Javier Bardem, to the UAE leg of promotions.

When asked if he expected the ‘Dune’ franchise to be such a cultural milestone, Villeneuve said that when he’s working on a film it’s like being on submarine and he is often clueless on how the movie was shaping up until he reaches the surface. 

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Josh Brolin dressed in an olive-green suit. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Villeneuve wasn’t the only highlight of the evening. Both Josh Brolin dressed in an olive-green suit and Dave Bautista, in a black and maroon waistcoat and snug black pants, brought their own brand of intensity, charm, and charisma.

“No, I didn't. But when you watch Denis [Villeneuve] spend more than two years on editing, Hans [Zimmer] on music and then you watch the movie and realise it's great. People are responding viscerally to Dune and that's great," said Brolin to Gulf News.

Brolin, known for his chiselled features and commanding presence, effortlessly commanded attention as he strode down the carpet, radiating star power with every step. At one point, he even called out his peer Bautista’s name like a fan boy as they crossed each other on the red-carpet. The camaraderie between them was palpable.

Meanwhile, Bautista, with his towering stature and magnetic charm, captivated onlookers with his portrayal of the fearsome yet complex character. Abu Dhabi, with its sweeping desert landscapes and majestic dunes, served as the perfect backdrop for the fictional world of Arrakis to come alive.

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Dave Bautista in a black and maroon waistcoat and snug black pants. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“It’s my first time to Abu Dhabi because I didn’t shoot here … I feel a bit resentful about that,” said Bautista with a laugh. But he told Gulf News that he always thought that 'Dune' would be an iconic cultural touchstone for cinema lovers globally.

"This was Denis' dream, so I knew it was going to be amazing," said Villeneuve.

As the stars mingled and posed for photographs, it was clear that ‘Dune: Part 2’ had struck a chord not only with audiences but also with the talented individuals who brought this epic saga to life.

‘Dune: Part Two’ is Villeneuve’s adaptation of the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert, picking up where Dune left off. It stars Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Bautista, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub, with Stellan Skarsgård, with Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem.

The film continues the mythic journey of Paul Atreides (Chalamet) as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a path 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 must prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.

Set in the distant future, ‘Dune: Part Two’ features the sweeping sand dunes of Abu Dhabi’s Liwa desert as the landscape of the iconic and important desert planet Arrakis. Scenes were captured at just under 20 locations across the Liwa desert during the winter 2022 and a team of 300 local, 250 international crew and 500 extras were used during the 27-day shoot.

‘Dune: Part One,’ which released in October 2021, garnered ten Oscar nominations including Best Picture and went on to win six awards in categories including cinematography, editing, visual effects, score, production design, and sound. It was also a mammoth box-office blockbuster and collected over $400 million.

Dune: Part 2 is out in UAE cinemas on February 29.

Did you know?

Dune and Dune: Part Two are among more than 150 major productions that have used Abu Dhabi as a location in recent years. Films including ‘Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One’, ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, ‘6 Underground and Furious 7’, as well as Bollywood hits such as ‘Vikram Vedha’, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ and ‘Bharat’ saw Abu Dhabi play a starring role.