A Sand Artist Has Given the ‘Dune: Part Two’ Trailer a Fine-Grained Overhaul

The film is full of sand and so is this trailer.

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Dune: Part Two (2024). Photo: Niko Tavernis / Warner Bros.

The much-awaited second installment in the cinematic Dune series hit theaters last weekend following its February premiere. To mark the occasion, Warner Bros. just dropped a notably analog alternate trailer crafted by Houston-raised and Boston-based sand animator Grace Zhang.

Dune: Part Two completes Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s behemoth 1965 sci-fi epic of the same name. Villeneuve’s first Dune installment debuted in 2021—37 years after Pace representee David Lynch’s adaptation, which tanked at the box office, but remains a cult classic.

Zhang’s version of the trailer was created using only light and sand—a material befitting a story set amid, well, dunes. The trailer opens on a vast desert scene that grows cramped with sandworms. Protagonist Paul Atreides mounts one of the gigantic creatures for his first ride, while Hans Zimmer’s dramatic score swells. Zhang then clears the slate with a few swipes of her hand to make way for Paul’s eventual battle with Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen.

The two-minute clip concludes in much the same manner as the official trailer, with Paul standing on a cliff witnessing an explosion. A lack of dialogue and explicit narrative detail imbues Zhang’s distinct take with enhanced archetypal power. “Better than the movie in some ways,” one YouTube comment reads.

Zhang’s no stranger to Hollywood herself. At just 20 years old, the Babst College student has practiced sand art for 10 years, ever since discovering the medium on the reality TV show Ukraine’s Got Talent while in fifth grade. Canadian-American artist Caroline Leaf is often credited with creating the genre of sand animation thanks to her 1968 short film Sand, or Peter and the Wolf, but humans have undoubtedly been drawing on beaches without recording their efforts for millennia. Over the past nine years, Zhang’s sand art has appeared on Fox News and America’s Got Talent.

“I am extremely honored to have created this artistic animation inspired by Dune: Part Two,” Zhang said of her latest project. “With flowing sand as the animation medium, I utilized the play of light and shadow and the narrative expression to convey the grand, climactic fantasy of this film.”

Dune: Part Two picks up where Villeneuve’s first film left off—with Paul (Timothée Chalamet) wandering the desert to recapture the resource-rich planet Arrakis from the antagonist Harkonnens. Although arid and ruled by sandworms, Arrakis also produces the universe’s greatest abundance of “spice,” a multi-use healing drug that empowers space travel. The cast is rounded off by returning players Zendaya, as Chani, and Rebecca Ferguson, as Paul’s mother; as well as newcomers Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha, Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, and Christopher Walken as the Emperor.

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