Book Review: Dune: Exposures is a diary and memory album for Dune 2’s production        

Dune Exposures

A diary is the only place that someone writes with complete candour. So, only in a diary do we often get the truest insight into a person’s life and motivations. Dune: Exposures may be billed as a photo book, and although it’s true that Dune 2 cinematographer Greg Fraiser has taken some gorgeous photos capturing the film’s production, it’s truly Josh Brolin’s diary entries that takes centre stage.

Being a major member of the supporting ensemble cast Brolin was perfectly poised to document the experience of making the film. He didn’t have the rigorous demands of the main cast, yet he still had access to them, not only that, he had the time to watch and think and write. He writes about the extras baking in the sand, waiting for hours so that the wind might return the natural dunes. He writes about the magnetism of Florence Pugh, the irrational fear of not seeing beloved co-workers again, and waking up next to someone who still has her set wardrobe on from the day before.

Dune: Exposures is drastically unlike Dune 2’s concept art books, or the different features and interviews that have been published, or those Vanity Fair videos on YouTube. The Art And Soul Of Dune Part Two may describe the building blocks of this celluloid empire, but Dune: Exposure really gives a glimpse into the hearts of its makers. It doesn’t shy away from the less glamorous aspects of the production either: “A set is like a war”, Brolin says,  or the unseen pleasures of the work:

There will be a moment when all the red or beige runners laid under the flashing bulbs and bulbous protruding microphone heads will free-fall into an oblivion, and I will be fighting the fight of my life. Just for a moment, it will be real, all this silliness, and I will be eight years old headlong into a book that is transporting me into a world that I will find my feet on, as if I am really there.”

florence pugh, dune exposures

These musings and memories and poems are all artfully formatted. There’s wide open dunes of blank pages, with words blowing off the pages or trickling down like sand in the desert. And of course, the most transportive elements are Fraiser’s photographs, which catch the landscape and crew in dramatic moments – as they are in the film – as well as those candid moments between filming, when they’re out of costume and sitting in a tent, or when an assistant is holding an umbrella over their head.

This book was created by Dune 2’s right hand men – the cinematographer is to the director as Brolin’s character is to Timothee Chalamet’s – so their work on set was to support the vision rather than create it. The result is less a document of Dune 2’s filmmaking, than of the filmmaking process as a whole. And in a strange way, it takes after Dune’s inspiration, T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, more than it does after the sci-fi epic. After all, the work of creating something bears no resemblance to the result. And in that same way Dune: Exposures is distinctly separate from the film, yet still a reverent, contemplative, personal, and wonderful masterwork.


Dune: Exposures by Greg Fraiser and Josh Brolin is available from Titan Books. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

Branden Zavaleta

West Australian Writer & Photographer