Denis Villeneuve filmed “Dune” in the desert near the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi, choosing July and August for filming. These are the hottest months in this area, when temperatures reach 50°C and above, writes IndieWire. But it was this kind of weather that fit into the director’s visual concept.
“I found what I was looking for in Abu Dhabi. Huge dunes and desert with such a variety of shapes that it will simply take your breath away. And climatic conditions that have become ideal for us due to the proximity of the city. There was such a strange haze in the air, which I was looking for, it fits perfectly into the atmosphere of the film,” says Villeneuve.
“We were looking for locations that had big, rocky mountains with desert around, which sounds achievable but it’s not particularly easy to find in the UAE, especially when they’re also looking at other countries like Jordan where you have places like Wadi Rum,” Robbie McAree of Epic Films told The National. Epic Films provided production services for “Dune” in Abu Dhabi.
According to him, due to the fact that the shooting took place in July and August, it was necessary to build special tents with powerful air conditioning in order to protect the participants of the shooting and equipment from overheating.
“Logistically it was challenging, however, we did come up with an approach that was safe for everyone,” McAree said of the heat. “We would film for a few hours in the morning, we’d have a break during the hot hours in midday and then we’d go back out again in the late hours of the afternoon.
According to McAree, Villeneuve decided to go ahead with shooting “Dune” in the heat for a particular reason: “Summer in the UAE has grayer skies and a lot more haze. For Denis’s vision of ‘Dune,’ it was absolutely perfect. We all knew that it was going to be harsh but he wanted that for a reason.”
Villeneuve said as much himself in a behind-the-scenes video released by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Villeneuve revealed what drew him to Liwa as a central location for the film.
J.J. Abrams filmed desert sequences in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in the same desert.
“Dune” is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by writer Frank Herbert. The film tells the story of the life of Paul Atreides – “a child of privilege, raised by a strong family.” He has to win the war for the desert planet Arrakis, the source of a drug that can prolong life.