MANILA — “Dune,” the epic science fiction film starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, features combat based on a type of Filipino martial arts, its director said.
Denis Villeneuve revealed the inspiration behind the fighting style of the character portrayed by Chalamet — the Philippines’ Balintawak Eskrima — as the filmmaker dissected a scene via The New York Times.
The scene shows Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) training Paul Atreides (Chalamet) in a specific fighting discipline, with Villeneuve explaining that “each opponent is trying to distract his adversary by doing very fast moves in order to create an opportunity to insert slowly a blade inside the opponent’s shield.”
Crediting fight coordinator Roger Yuan for designing the choreography, Villeneuve said the “Atreides fighting style [borrows] from a martial art technique developed in the ‘50s.”
“This technique was called Balintawak Eskrima,” he said, referring to the martial art which is also known as Balintawak Arnis.
“It’s a style that involves blocking the opponent’s attack with both a weapon and the free hand,” Villeneuve explained.
The scene, which takes place inside a combat training room, was filmed as if it were a dance performance, the director said, crediting cinematographer Greig Fraser as his collaborator.
“The goal was to embrace the complexity of the movements with objective camera angles. We tried to make sure that the audience will understand the nature of this new way of fighting,” he said.
“Dune” is the latest Hollywood movie to feature a form of Arnis, following the likes of “Mission: Impossible III,” the “Bourne” series, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” among many others.
The long-gestating adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name, “Dune” debuted last week in the US to critical acclaim. It will be the first major theatrical release in the Philippines since the pandemic started when cinemas reopen on November 10.