• Deni Villeneuve reveals that Paul’s sandworm scene in
    Dune: Part Two
    was crucial to the film and to Paul’s story.
  • Filming the sequence involved many practical elements and extrapolations from Frank Herbert’s novel, since the author doesn’t really explain how to ride a sandworm.
  • Dune: Part Two
    makes sandworms a crucial part of the story, both as a rite of passage for Paul and as instruments of war.



Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve breaks down Paul’s epic sandworm ride from the film. Hitting theaters earlier this month, the sequel picks up after the end of 2021’s Dune as Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides battles the Harkonnens and becomes a leader figure for the Fremen on Arrakis. The film has been widely praised for its story, performances, and epic action sequences, with Paul’s first sandworm ride proving especially noteworthy.

In a recent video for Vanity Fair, Villeneuve explains various decisions regarding Paul’s sandworm scene, revealing why the scene is important and how they pulled it off.

The director touches specifically on how the specifics of riding a sandworm aren’t revealed in Frank Herbert’s Dune book, so he had to get a little creative. The sequence is chock-full of inventive filmmaking techniques, including the use of trucks that pulled segments out from underneath an artificial sand dune to give the impression that the ground was falling out from beneath Paul’s feet. Read select comments from Villeneuve below, or watch the full video above:

“Riding a sandworm is something that is part of the Fremen tradition, is something that usually Fremen learn at an earlier age. It’s one of the scenes where I tried to be as close as possible to the actual dialogue of the novel. I like in that dialogue the fact that we feel that Stilgar became some kind of surrogate father to Paul, that Stilgar was part of the healing process for Paul…

“The sound here that has been done, I asked Richard King to go back in the desert and to make sure that we will hear that specific sound of the hissing of the sand that sounds almost like a strange singing. I was very pleased with the sound crew that we were able to bring back that specific sound that we were hearing all the time in the desert.

“Here in the book, it’s written that Paul rides the worm. It’s very evasive about how a human being could jump on such a beast. I knew it would be a central scene, probably one of the most important scenes of the movie. I knew if this scene was a success I would have a movie…

“How precisely to bring that to the screen was like, I had to figure that out and to create a kind of seminar for my crew where I taught them how to ride a sandworm. And I explained to them how we will bring that to the screen. When I did so, there was a silence around the table, because what I was asking for was to bring a level of realism that would require a tremendous amount of time. I wanted to shoot everything on real sunlight, that was the key for the VFX…

“The idea was to convey the idea Paul missed it. The worm is not exactly where Paul intended it to be. There’s a gap between his position and the worm, and that to increase the fact that he’s learning. He’s about to miss his Uber, technically.

“When we designed the sandworm skin in Part One, for Patrice Vermette, my production designer, and I, it was important that the sandworm feel prehistoric. Like all the design of the worm will be in direct relationship with this environment…. That you could explain from its biology how it feeds, how it evolves, how it lives under such harsh conditions.”

Dune: Part Two Makes Sandworms Much More Important

Sandworms Played A Smaller Role In The First Movie

A sandworm emerges from a billowing dust cloud while tiny human figures flee in a dramatic scene from Dune: Part Two

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Dune: Part Two.

Dune serves as a setting of the stage in many ways, for Villenueve’s sequel. Herbert’s novel had long been considered unadaptable because of just how dense it is, and due to its extensive and complex sci-fi world. 2021s Dune has the challenging task of doing most of the worldbuilding for the franchise, and it sets up sandworms as a force to be feared on Arrakis. The creatures, however, really get to shine in Dune: Part Two.

The first
is currently available to stream on Max and Hulu.

While the first film features a sandworm swallowing a spice harvester and briefly chasing Paul in the desert, the true extent of their importance doesn’t become clear until the sequel. The second movie is all about Paul becoming one with the Fremen and, as Villeneuve explains, the sandworms play a crucial part in this. Paul’s riding of the sandworm serves as a rite of passage. The fact that Paul summons a particularly massive one and successfully rides it further endears him to Stilgar (Javier Bardem), thus setting the stage for his rise to power as the Lisan al Gaib.

What’s more, sandworms aren’t just part of a rite of passage, but they become instruments of war. During the climactic Dune: Part Two ending, Paul and the Fremen ride sandworms against the Harkonnen forces, ultimately allowing Paul to kill the Baron (Stellan Skarsgård) and challenge Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken) for the throne. Since sandworms play such a crucial role in Dune: Part Two, it certainly makes sense why Villeneuve devoted so much time and energy to making them feel real.

Source: Vanity Fair

Dune Part 2 Poster Showing Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Zendaya as Chani Holding Daggers

Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two is the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film that covers the novel’s events by Frank Herbert. The movie continues the quest of Paul Atreides on a journey of revenge against those who slew his family. With insight into the future, Atreides may be forced to choose between his one true love and the universe’s fate. 

Release Date
March 1, 2024

Legendary Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

$122 Million

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