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'Finally the movie will be seen as intended': Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve brings epic 'Dune' to Toronto

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On Saturday evening at Toronto's Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, credited as the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre, Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve got a monumental welcome at the Canadian premiere, the IMAX premiere of his high-anticipated film Dune, alongside one of the stars of the movie Rebecca Ferguson, part of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

"Finally the movie will be seen as intended," Villeneuve at the screening on Saturday. "We dreamed, we designed, we shot this movie for IMAX."

"It's that combination of massive scope and very, very close intimacy with the characters that I thought was totally in sync with the way we shot...the movie."

Ferguson, who made her first trip to Canada, had a very simple way to communicate why she was excited about the film's IMAX premiere.

"It's such a f—king good movie," she said.

What is 'Dune' about?

Dune is based on the 1965 science-fiction novel by Frank Herbert, largely regarded as the best science-fiction book of all time.

This film imagining of this story has a star-studded cast, where Ferguson is joined by co-stars Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård and Zendaya, to name a few.

Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, son of Lady Jessica (Ferguson), part of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, and Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac), who becomes the ruler of Arrakis, a desert planet with its a coveted "spice" export. Mining this resource is dangerous with enormous sandworms on the land. 

But this relocation to Arrakis may not be as initially perceived with the previous rulers, House Harkonnen, joining the Emperor to reclaim Arrakis and put an end to the House Atreides.

For the most part, consensus was that the scope of Dune was so large and complex that effectively making it into a movie would be impossible, with David Lynch's 1984 version not being very well received.

For Villeneuve, he read the book when we was around 14-years-old and what touched him was Paul Atreides' "feeling of isolation."

"Having the burden of heavy family heritage...and the way he finally finds comfort and solace [in another] culture," Villeneuve explained on Saturday evening. "That I thought was really deeply moving for me."

He added that the film Lawrence of Arabia had a "deep impact" on his filmmaking, reminiscing about sitting alone in a theatre in Montreal to watch the film in 70mm.

"It's a master class into...classical filmmaking," Villeneuve said.

"There's a lot of links between the story of Lawrence and the story of Paul. They are both characters that are going in a foreign country, fall in love with another culture, want to bring something good to this culture...[but] find out at the end [they] will be an instrument of colonialism themselves, and there's something about this tragedy that I thought, both characters are on a similar trajectory."

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs until Sept. 18 with both in-person and digital screenings of films. The next TIFF screenings for Dune are Monday, Sept. 13 at Scotiabank Theatre and Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre. Dune will be released in theatres on Oct. 22.

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