Whatever your feelings about Denis Villeneuve’s movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, there’s one thing that pretty much everyone agrees on: it has a look and feel unlike anything we’ve seen on the big screen before.
Production designer Patrice Vermette was key in bringing the multiple worlds of Dune to life in the film. And while he had little boundaries on where he could go creatively, he grounded himself at the beginning by creating a mood board to get many of his influences in one place.
In an interview with /Film, Vermette shared what was on his mood board for the main planets we see in Dune: Part 1, specifically Caladan, Arrakis, and the Harkonnen homeworld, Giedi Prime:
I tried to separate the worlds from the beginning. There was a lot of images, from World War II bunkers, and architecture. Aztec architecture, Brazilian brutalist architecture, and sculptures from the Eastern life. There were pictures of the war in Afghanistan. Quarries in China and quarries in Italy just for the scale, so there was a lot of stuff. Also, how light should play, so [we] put ourselves in a state, in a mood that would fit the aesthetics of the movie.
Vermette goes on in the interview to share that Caladan’s look was inspired not only by medieval time but by Japanese architecture, specifically old Japanese temples. He also talked in depth about the mural of the sandworm we see in the Imperial laboratory. “The first time we encounter a representation of the worm, it’s through that mural,” he said. “The worm is designed to look ominous and more like a deity, like a godlike creature with the sun coming from its mouth. And around it, you see that there’s small, small characters just to show the scale of the worm … It’s how the Fremen are trying to tell their story, to talk about their existence, in this colonial palace. Their voice is there.”
You can read the entire interview here and/or (re)watch Dune now in theaters or on HBO Max.