Tarot cards and medieval nuns, how they created the Bene Gesserit in ‘Dune’

Tanya Lapointe’s book ‘The Art and Soul of Dune’ looks at the process of creating Denis Villeneuve’s epic film.

When Bene Gesserit walk in the rain in the dead of night, with their black robes completely covering them, they create an image that few onlookers can forget. The team of DuneThey have created a visually stunning universe, from costume managers to locations and photography, and that mysterious organization of powerful women that Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) belongs to is the best example.

Behind its creation process there are a thousand and one influences of the most varied, from tarot cards, to medieval witches and Balenciaga or Dior fashion. All these details are told in the book The art and soul of Duneby Tanya Lapointe, which reviews how Frank Herbet’s work has come to life under the direction of Denis Villeneuve.

“The philosophy of the Bene Gesserit is reminiscent of the religious colonization of centuries ago. They are so integrated in societies that they have become an unshakable power”explains Villeneuve. That dominant influence had to be reflected in the images, with a minimalist aesthetic and sophisticated futurism – according to Villeneuve’s request. Hence, his entire environment has been built on the basis of very strong metaphors and messages.

It is no accident that the Bene Gesserit spaceship is shaped like an egg, a symbol of fertility.

In the Atreides house, the representative of the Bene Gesserit is Lady Jessica, wife of Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac). The character of Rebecca Ferguson She is an independent woman who has followed her own instincts, even contradicting the orders of her superior, the Reverend Mother. In addition, she has great intuition and is a fierce fighter.

Jacqueline West, wardrobe manager, sought inspiration for her in the past. “I kept thinking about the idea of ​​a medieval nun with a futuristic twist”declares West. His wardrobe is inspired by the retro outfits of Balenciaga, Dior or Schiaparelli. “They had to be modest despite their sophistication, as the Bene Gesserit do not flaunt beauty or sexuality,” the book notes. He also noticed art. For example, the lace gown she wears in Caladan is taken from The majas by Francisco de Goya.

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, played by Charlotte Rampling – the first and only choice for the role – is an imposing woman with great power in the Dune universe. They got that impact, first of all, thanks to the presence of Rampling herself, but also through the costumes. Jaqueline West was inspired by the chess queen to model her figure and, curiously, by a tarot card. Two concepts that do not have much to do, but that the professional related to the writer of the original work.

I knew that Frank Herbert liked both chess and tarot, “explains West,” It gave me the impression that they would be good influences to start working on the costume patterns.

This is how, little by little, the spectacular film that hit our theaters on September 17 was cooking. Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Jason Momoa or Stellan Skarsgard are some of the names that complete the cast. Dune is still on the billboard.

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