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Denis Villeneuve: ‘Movies Have Been Corrupted by Television’ and a ‘Danger in Hollywood’ Is Thinking About ‘Release Dates, Not Quality’

Denis Villeneuve recently told The Times of London that “movies have been corrupted by television.” His opinion comes from his growing desire to make a movie without any dialogue.

“Frankly, I hate dialogue,” the filmmaker told the publication. “Dialogue is for theatre and television. I don’t remember movies because of a good line, I remember movies because of a strong image. I’m not interested in dialogue at all. Pure image and sound, that is the power of cinema, but it is something not obvious when you watch movies today. Movies have been corrupted by television.”

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“Because TV had that golden age and execs thought films should copy its success?” The Times asked Villeneuve, to which he answered: “Exactly.”

“In a perfect world, I’d make a compelling movie that doesn’t feel like an experiment but does not have a single word in it either,” he continued. “People would leave the cinema and say, ‘Wait, there was no dialogue?’ But they won’t feel the lack.”

Villeneuve flirted with making an HBO limited series adaptation of Norwegian author Jo Nesbo’s novel “The Son,” and even recruited Jake Gyllenhaal to star in the project. But he said earlier this year he was no longer planning the TV series because it’s just not the medium for him.

“It’s a project that I absolutely love. And I love the book. I love that writer, very strong writer,” he said. “And the thing is that, I brought this project to do a miniseries, because I thought that to bring it, to try to protect all the elements of the book, it was too much for a feature film. But I did feel that the adaptation we’ve made, which I think the screenplays were excellent, but far away from my sensibility.”

Villeneuve is back in the director’s chair for “Dune: Part Two,” which has earned rave reviews and is shaping up to be perhaps the director’s most acclaimed film to date. Several critics agree “Part Two” is one of the most visually stunning blockbusters ever made, a compliment Villeneuve surely values considering movies in his eyes are all about strong images.

“Dune: Part Two” is the latest blockbuster to flirt with the three-hour runtime mark, not that Villeneuve was ever worried about making a film that’s too long. He split Frank Herbert’s “Dune” novel into two films as to properly adapt the dense storyline. Villeneuve’s complete adaptation of “Dune” runs 322 minutes.

“I trust the audience,” Villeneuve said when The Times brought up the film’s length “This story’s too dense. I would never make ‘Dune’ as one movie. This was the only way I could succeed.”

“Also, think of ‘Oppenheimer,’” he continued. “It is a three-hour, rated-R movie about nuclear physics that is mostly talking. But the public was young — that was the movie of the year by far for my kids. There is a trend. The youth love to watch long movies because if they pay, they want to see something substantial. They are craving meaningful content.”

Villeneuve has been quite open in interviews about wanting to make a third “Dune” based on Herbert’s second “Dune” novel, “Dune Messiah.” But he’s not intent to get “Dune 3” immediately off the ground. Villeneuve needs a break, and he’s not too interested in signing up for a project where the release date is pre-determined anyway.

“There is absolutely a desire to have a third one, but I don’t want to rush it,” Villeneuve said. “The danger in Hollywood is that people get excited and only think about release dates, not quality.”

Villeneuve did not mention any studios or projects by name, but it’s not hard to see what he’s talking about. Disney and Warner Bros, for instance, assign release dates to their comic book movies well in advance. Sometimes one of these films has a release date before even a director or screenwriters has been hired to make it.

“Dune: Part Two” opens in theaters March 1 from Warner Bros. Head over to The Times of London’s website to read Villeneuve’s interview in its entirety.

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