Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve details the difficult search for the perfect type of sand for the sequel. Recently postponed to 2024, the second part of Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel continues Paul Atreides' (Timothée Chalamet) journey with the Fremen people on Arrakis as he seeks revenge against House Harkonnen.
The first part of the adaptation debuted in 2021 and received much acclaim for bringing the barren and deadly desert planet to life, with two Academy Awards accolades for Patrice Vermette's production design and Greig Fraser's cinematography.
During a recent interview with Empire following the release date slip of Dune: Part Two, the director detailed the surprisingly difficult search for the perfect sand for the sequel. Before filming, Villeneuve, Vermette, and Fraser spent an enormous amount of time in the desert searching for the perfect-shaped sand dunes. Ultimately, their experience with sand echoes Anakin Skywalker's famous words: "It's coarse and rough and irritating and gets everywhere."
“For my mise-en-scène, I wanted a dune with a particular shape. But Greig Fraser, on the other hand, needed that same shape to obtain a specific light. So, Patrice spent weeks and weeks looking for sand dunes in the desert! We looked like crazy… I still find it in my shoes every morning. We are definitely traumatized by the sand.”
The reason Villeneuve, Vermette, and Fraser had to start their research from scratch is that the sequel doesn't replicate any of the locations seen in the first film. In turn, the team had to scour the world's deserts for entirely new locations to stage Arrakis while remaining faithful to the first film.
Ultimately, the sequel's scenes on Arrakis, which include Paul riding a sandworm and raising an army, were filmed in different parts of Abu Dhabi. Being an epic war film, Dune: Part Two also had to establish new settings because it differs drastically from the first film, which was more contemplative.