Movie review of DUNE (2021)
By Dan Watt
I read the original Frank Herbert, Dune series, before high school. And like many others felt an immediate familiarity to Maud’Dib, enough so that I named a Dungeons and Dragons character after him.
In the original David Lynch movie two things stuck out as noteworthy to me: the worms and Baron Harkonen.
Before watching the Denis Villeneuve version I watched the trailers (Denis Villeneuve directed the amazing sci-fi/thriller movie Arrival (2016)).
Dune, as Frank Herbert admitted and tried to do, was next to impossible to write a script for.
As Stellan Skarsgard (who plays Vladimir Harkonnen) said in an interview (paraphrasing): To make a book work on screen you have to remove 90% of it. I would say Villeneuve succeeded!
Is Dune important, yes! The first book was published August 1965 by Chilton Books. Eleven years after J.R.R. Tolkien’s first Lord of the Rings book: The Fellowship of the Ring. And it came out nearly twelve years before George Lucas’s: Star Wars. The use of politics, greed, and the devastating effects on nature are comparable. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, to me, spoke of the damage done by industry, and there was evil brought about by the eye of Sauron. In Star Wars, entire planets are eliminated through the use of technology; and there is the light and dark of the Force. In between is Frank Herbert’s Dune; where technology has turned a living world into a desert in the name of greed and addiction; and there is the spice that allows for space travel and foresight along with other special abilities.
Political comparisons could be made between the Dune books and George R.R. Martin’s series: A Song of Ice and Fire (August 1, 1996). In both, families war against each other in both physical and mental battles in order to rule all.
Before I saw the movie a friend told me the effects and soundtracks are amazing. I mentioned this in an Instagram message to Tina Guo who plays on the Dune soundtrack (she has also played on other soundtracks by Hans Zimmer. You can see more of her at: tinaguo.com).
The movie introduces a number of families and groups worth looking up on the internet if you aren’t familiar with the story: Fremen (original Arrakis dwellers); Bene Gesserit (witches who have many secrets); The Atreides (you’ll have to watch to see what happens to them); The Harkonnens; and House Corrino. There is of course the gigantic sandworms who produce the spice that allows rapid space travel. There are others you will likely meet in the upcoming films.
My recommendation is see Dune on the biggest screen you can.