Frank Herbert’s Dune

It took me a few days to wrap my head around the film release of Frank Herbert’s Dune by Denis Villeneuve. I made an Instagram comment about how it was obvious to me that the script and/or the buildup of the movie was a clear indicator that part two was necessary. A few days later, one of the writers who adapted the script was interviewed and mentioned how he wrote it on a really old-fashioned computer and only wrote 40 pages. Sounded interesting! I didn’t realize writers went to those lengths to keep adaptations confidential, but it’s Hollywood, so I’m not totally surprised. I get it; lately, I keep everything in my brain until last minute. Also, it reminded me that script adaptations don’t necessarily need to be exceedingly lengthy.

One of the unique and, honestly, disturbing aspects of the film was the musical soundtrack. Oh my God was it kind-of perfect but also tooth-cracking. I was caught between being reminded of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. It just had those otherworldly, creepy, eery vibes. And, it freaked me out half the time while the visuals were simultaneously so alluring. Such a strange experience. But, then I read that Hans Zimmer actually intended to do that and spent time creating new sounds. Well, if the experience I described was what they were going for, they totally hit the mark.

I’ve read a lot of snip-it reviews about Dune: Part 1 (2021). And, I can almost guarantee that the ones that absolutely hate it did not read one word of the book. And, if they read it, they probably lacked the literary background to really dig deep. The book reads very similar to what Villeneuve’s visual intentions seemed to be for the film. It was supposed to mix a sense of awe but also a disjointed, jarred cut-to-scene action feel. One of the reasons why I think the book reads this way is because of the history of the planet Arrakis which Frank Herbert takes so much time to elaborately explain in the book(s). Arrakis is a planet with a long history of violence, war, and colonizer domination. In the end, the reader is left asking his/herself, is this a white savior narrative or a science-fiction version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness where the wild conquers the heart of the civilized?

I will take points away for not building some relationships between characters better. The casting was good, extremely good, but I think there was something missing in the connections. It broke my heart when Duncan Idaho died in the book (spoiler!), but it hardly felt it with the movie. Bummer! I kind-of wanted to cry a little; I was hoping they’d really break my heart at the theatre, but damn. Well, that’s why I’m waiting on Part 2. The nature of Paul’s gift involves, as explained in the film, breeding a mind that could connect time and space. So, I’m betting on some flashbacks in the next film. Also, why is Zendaya only in like 2 minutes? WTF. False advertising. Just kidding, though the buildup of that relationship is intense. With the relationships mildly lacking in Part 1, if Paul and Chani’s chemistry doesn’t deliver in Part 2, it will be a disappointment. No pressure guys! And, good luck.

Works Cited

Herbert, Frank. Dune. New York, Penguin Books, 2016.

Dune: Part 1. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Legendary Pictures. 22 October 2021.

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