“As a child I was a dreamer and I always liked the idea of dreams as a key to understanding reality: technically, life can be described as a parenthesis between two dreams.“In an interview with the Republic last August 13, in view of the launch of Dunes, Denis Villeneuve so he expressed himself. AND dream it is precisely the key word to approach his filmography that is not limited only to blockbuster based on the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert of 1965. Because everything starts from there, from that initial cue that has pervaded him since his youth, illuminating him first and then guiding him (like Chani /Zendaya with Paul Atreides /Timothée Chalamet in Dunes). That same idea that, to date, makes him one of the best directors around, which we could not fail to celebrate on the occasion of his birthday.
Denis Villeneuve before science fiction
Born in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada on October 3, 1967, Denis Villeneuve trained at the University of Québec in Montreal. After a first short film made in 1994, he participates in the direction of the collective film Cosmos. The film also landed on Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival 1997, helping to launch the director’s name internationally. The first actual success comes, however, the success year thanks to his actual feature film debut, with A 32 août sur terre. A dramatic debut, in an essential desert setting – another motif that returns in Dunes – which allowed him to return to Cannes for the second year in a row. This time, however, in the section Un Certain Regard. Precisely in European festivals, Denis Villeneuve finds the greatest appreciation – as well as in “his” Canada – thanks to the subsequent Maelström (2000) and with Next Floor (2008), which reports it on Croisette.
These are years in which the director mostly engages in the dramatic genre, also addressing news stories that have shaken public opinion. This is the case, for example, of Polytecnique (2009), in which Villeneuve reconstructs the Montreal massacre, dated 1989, in which many female students lost their lives. At the same time, it increasingly joins the war genre, as in the following one The woman who sings (2010), which also marks his debut at the Venice Film Festival, in the section of Days of the Authors.
The grotesque atmospheres and the noir “Lynch” turn: Prisoners And Enemy
Soon, those warlike atmospheres give way to a darker reality in the psychological sense, using the face of Jake Gyllenhaal. Both are released in 2013 Prisoners and Enemy. The first, a rapture that increasingly takes the form of a mysterious enigma (like the Lynchian Twin Peaks, with a touch of Clint Eastwood at the Mystic River), also boasts the participation of Hugh Jackman.
The second, on the other hand, brings the double theme, showing an incredible Gyllenhaal in the double role Adam Bell / Anthony Claire, an exactly identical college professor and actor respectively. Freely inspired by The duplicate man by José Saramago, between night clubs, mysterious keys delivered for no apparent reason and dizzying splitting, in the wake of Lost roads (David Lynch returns once again), the film proceeds in a frenzied narrative. Until the final hiss that anticipates the only escape route for Denis Villeneuve: science fiction. From that ending, in fact, it is as if the director had woken up from a dream. Finally, to immerse yourself in another. Because, as he himself recalled, this is the very essence of life: “One parenthesis between two dreams.“
A child who loved aliens: the dream which has become reality
“I had been dreaming of making a science fiction film since the age of ten. I believe this genre has the potential and the means to explore our reality in a very interesting way. ” And, as his career to date shows, Denis Villeneuve’s dream has come true. Indeed, it is through that much sought-after science fiction, even in the drama of everyday life, that the Canadian director is able to find its maximum expression. 2016 marks the year of “contact” for Villeneuve: it arrives in theaters Arrival which earned him the nomination to Academy Award for Best Director. The protagonist is Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist called to mediate after twelve mysterious alien spaceships landed on Earth.
With its debut in mare magnum of science fiction, Villeneuve has created a product that reasons, beyond metaphor, on relationship with diversity. No more adventurers, or warriors to conquer space and fight for defense, but enlightened minds, open to confrontation. A humanist science fiction that opens up to comparison without too many artifices. The following year is the turn of what could have been “the longest step of the leg”. Denis Villeneuve is in fact entrusted with the direction of the sequel to Blade Runner, cult of the genre directed by Ridley Scott. Therefore, in 2017 it comes out Blade Runner 2049, immediately defined as a worthy heir of the 1982 masterpiece, because, after all, it still keeps that basic question open. Despite the presence of more and more updated and humanized androids, in fact, the question remains the same: “What defines us as human beings?” Dunes it is therefore the last stage – in chronological order – of a journey (or a dream) that has lasted for over twenty years. A dream that Denis Villeneuve keeps returning to us from time to time on the big screen.