Here's The Dune Moment Director Denis Villeneuve Wishes He Could've Included In The Movie

Director Denis Villeneuve's upcoming film adaptation of "Dune" includes all sorts of wild imagery from author Frank Herbert's seminal 1965 science fiction novel: massive sandworms, intricate costumes and weapons, and alien spacecraft that feel unique to the world Herbert created. But there was one element that Villeneuve could not figure out how to incorporate into the final cut of his movie: the baliset.

What is the Baliset?

The baliset is a musical instrument similar to a lute or a zither, described as having "many strings." Its appearance was never fully laid out in the novel, so it's been left up to interpretation as to what it actually looks like. Gurney Halleck – the war master of House Atreides, trusted advisor to Duke Leto, and mentor to the story's protagonist, Paul – is a formidable warrior, but also a sensitive soul who plays soothing music on the baliset in his down time. Patrick Stewart played that character in David Lynch's 1984 movie, where the baliset makes an appearance. But according to a recent roundtable interview with Denis Villeneuve attended by /Film's Vanessa Armstrong, Villeneuve could not figure out a way to get the instrument into his version. When asked if there was one thing he could not include from the books that he desperately wanted to, he replied:

"I will say something to you guys that ... There's one thing that it's painful for me. It's Gurney Halleck's baliset. It's something that I shot. It's something that exists. Josh was awesome but for several reasons, I was not able to put it in Part One."

That leaves the door open that we could get some sick baliset action in a "Dune" follow-up, which can be ready to film next year if it receives the go-ahead from the Warner Bros. brass.

Brolin's Baliset Blues

I wonder how Josh Brolin feels about the baliset not making the final cut. During a different "Dune" press event that /Film attended several months ago, Brolin explained that he did, in fact, play a literal version of this instrument on the set – but one of his co-stars ended up making him feel self-conscious about it:

"Me being an amateur musician, when it was brought to the set it was immediately grabbed out of my hands by Oscar Isaac and played incredibly – don't forget Llewyn Davis – played incredibly by him, which threw me into this awful, vulnerable state that I would never get it right. And then when we actually did the playing and the singing, Denis threw that on me the night before. So I think I would have been so nervous and screwed it up so badly, but because it was kind of thrown on me and [I only had] six hours to prepare for this, I think it went much better."

Isaac, who has a background as a musician and indeed did incredible work in the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," joked that he hadn't heard Brolin's baliset playing at that time and was looking forward to "tearing him apart" once he did. But now it looks like the rest of us also have a long wait until we get to hear it (assuming we ever do). Fingers crossed Villeneuve finds a way to work it into the sequel.

"Dune" arrives in theaters and on HBO Max starting October 22, 2021.