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‘Dune’ trailer released as West Coast wildfires rage on, fans say Arrakis-like orange skies part of the promo

Blazes were reported in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana, just as Warner Bros. dropped the first trailer of Denis Villeneuve's ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic novel, 'Dune'
'Dune'. (Screengrab/YouTube)
'Dune'. (Screengrab/YouTube)

Warner Bros., on Wednesday, September 9, debuted the first trailer for ‘Dune’, director Denis Villeneuve's ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic novel. The film stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya Coleman, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.

‘Dune’ is set in the distant future and follows the fortunes of various noble houses in what amounts to a feudal interstellar society. Set mostly on the planet Arrakis -- also known as Dune -- in the story, Duke Leto Atreides accepts the stewardship of the dangerous desert planet, the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe, melange or "the spice", a drug which extends human life, provides superhuman levels of thought, and makes "foldspace travel" possible. 

Though Leto knows the opportunity is an intricate trap set by his enemies, he takes his Bene Gesserit concubine Lady Jessica, young son and heir Paul Atreides, and most trusted advisers to Arrakis. Leto takes control of the mining operation, which is made perilous by the presence of giant sandworms. A bitter betrayal leads Paul and Jessica to the Fremen, natives of Arrakis who live in the deep desert. The story also contains a prophecy concerning a messianic figure and lots of battles, as protagonist Paul contends with rival House Harkonnen and strives to defeat the forces of Shaddam IV, Emperor of the Known Universe.


Chalamet plays Paul, the scion of House Atreides, Isaac plays Duke Leto Atreides, Ferguson plays Lady Jessica, Momoa plays Duncan Idaho, and Zendaya plays the mysterious Chani. Brolin plays Paul's other mentor, troubadour/warrior Gurney Halleck, while Bardem plays Stilgar, the leader (naib) of the Fremen tribe, the original inhabitants of Arrakis. Skarsgård plays Baron Vladimir, head of House Harkonnen. Liet-Kynes, an Imperial planetologist on Arrakis, has been gender-swapped in the film to be a Black woman, played by Duncan-Brewster.

The trailer gives us a good idea of what to expect. Intense scenes, larger-than-life action sequences, and an endless expanse of sand. And with the sand and the sandworms and the battling houses, we also catch several glimpses of Arrakis’ apocalyptic burning orange skies. This was weirdly something that many people on social media found funny and oddly relatable. 

As wildfires raged across parts of the western U.S. on Wednesday, with more hot, dry gusty winds forecast to drive flames into new levels of ferocity, skies in many states turned fierce shades of orange and red, making for a surreal sight. About 40 wildfires were burning in California alone. Blazes were also reported in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana. 

"The smoke particles from the fires allow sunlight's longer-wavelength colors like red and orange to get through while blocking the shorter wavelengths of yellow, blue and green," NASA said. "Those longer wavelengths give the sky a red or orange-tinted appearance. Similarly, during sunrise and sunset times when the sun is near the horizon, sunlight has to travel through more of Earth's atmosphere to get to you. The additional atmosphere filters out the shorter wavelengths and allows the longer wavelengths to get through, providing reds and oranges during those times." 

Consequently, many remarked on Twitter how their cities felt unmistakably like part of the ‘Dune’ universe. “Am I living on a Dune planet? Nah, everything is just on fire… totally fine. 9:30 AM in Oregon,” wrote a Twitter user, sharing photos of the orange Oregon sky.


“The sky in Oregon right now is more orange than Arrakis is in the Dune trailer,” wrote another Twitter user. 


One Twitter user noted, “The Dune Trailer releases the same day California and Oregon skies turn orange. Coincidence? Denis Villeneuve has always been a very immersive filmmaker.”


Another Twitter user said, “having trouble distinguishing between photos of Oregon sky and screenshots from Dune trailer in my timeline.”


“BLADE RUNNER/DUNE/MARS sky in San Francisco this morning, photos taken with my Canon 5D mark ii,” wrote one Twitter user, sharing photos.


Another Twitter user, sharing a photo of his porch, said, “Is this sky some marketing campaign for the new Dune movie?”


“No orange sun today but the sky is bathing everything in a shade of orange. Maybe it is part of the Dune trailer?” asked a Twitter user.


‘Dune’ is scheduled to be released in the United States in IMAX and 3D on December 18, 2020, by Warner Bros. Pictures.