Previewing the Blu-ray disc release of Dune: Part One, on January 11, 2022, Warner Bros. Entertainment has released one of the included special features to YouTube. “Inside Dune: The Training Room” gets into the heart of the movie’s intense sparring sequence between Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), where the latter seeks to instill his pupil with deadly seriousness of the situation that awaits them on Arrakis.
We hear from director Denis Villenueve and fight coordinator Roger Yuan regarding the movie’s distinctive choreography. While styles were directly inspired by real fighting techniques, the end result is specific to the setting of Dune and its unique hand-to-hand combat system, that evolved around use of futuristic personal shields.
Watch the full video (five minutes) here. If you prefer, the transcript is also available below.
In total, the Blu-ray disc will include around an hour of extras. A number of these are new featurettes—like the above—including previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast.
Following is the written transcript of “Inside Dune: The Training Room”:
Denis Villeneuve (director): Right at the beginning of the movie, we will see Paul reluctantly training with Gurney Halleck. Gurney tries—a bit like you know you do sometimes with teenagers—to warn him, to wake him up.
Josh Brolin: When you first see Gurney with Paul, it’s more of a professor/teacher thing, where you’re seeing moves. You’re in this place where you’re like, you’re supposed to be ta-ta-ta-ta!
Timothée Chalamet: It’s what we shot first, those were my first three days. On those days, Josh was captain; [he’d] done combat sequences like that and, true to the nature of the scene, he’s the weapon master. So he took the lead.
Villeneuve: Roger Yuan was the choreographer who came up with most of the movement in Dune.
Roger Yuan (fight coordinator): Gurney is coming in kind of playfully and yet wanted to teach this young man; that where he’s going it’s serious. And so the training sequence, it’s a choreographed set of the basic blocks, but which are functional in real-world fighting.
Villeneuve: You have the combination of very fast moves, a bit like a chess player that does several moves in advance to kill the king. It’s the same thing.
Yuan: And once Timothée’s character says “I’m not in the mood”, that’s where it becomes a real fight.
Villeneuve: It’s a cross between martial arts and fencing, where you do a certain amount of movement to distract the opponent, in order to be able to bring the blade inside his shield. So it’s very fast, [fast-paced] close combat. Very precise, using hands—both hands—and knives in order to be able to kill the opponent. It’s a very specific technique that belonged to Dune.
Yuan: The Atriedes system I based on kali, and a specific style of kali: Balintawak, which is very short movements, because their blades are short. So it adapts to that type of weaponry.
Depending on the character and also the actor, that is brought in, I would love to make sure that their specific abilities, physically, are being utilized. What was their background? Even if it’s not martial arts. Do they understand tennis? Do they play soccer? And the training process relates to them in that way first, and then slowly guide them along and go “okay this is how we do it in fight world now.”
Brolin: It took awhile, but learning kata fighting with sticks, filming myself, and then looking at it and actually learning from it. And saying “oh I see, I’m too far forward and I need to standup more.” And things clicking along the way.
Yuan: Josh is great. I had a great, great time with him personally as well as showing him the choreography.
Brolin: It’s a fight that was very difficult for me to learn, because I’m just more… I mean look at me, you know. There’s no [grunts], you know what I mean, the “silverback”. So I pushed myself very, very, very hard.
Chalamet: Roger Yuan, we worked very hard together and I have big gratitude to him.
Yuan: Timothée was great. He had a little bit of a background in taekwondo [and] he’s got a dance background, so he’s got a wonderful memory for choreography.
I said “look, do everything slow motion, let your body feel connected.” So that it’s not just a mechanical movement of arm and shoulder. It’s that your whole body, and mind, and intent of what you’re doing, that’s combined. Then we can go into doing it fast…
Villeneuve: It was quite beautiful to see them evolving through time and being able to achieve that level of mastery.