Dune – poised to become a landmark release for sci-fi cinema. It has already given us many reasons why we should be excited about the highly-anticipated adaptation. Based on Frank Herbert’s influential 1965 novel of the same name, it tells the story of Paul Atreides – a young man and an heir to his father’s title as Duke whose family serves as the stewards of a planet called Arrakis. Aside from that, he may also be a messiah… of some sort.
Everything you need to know about Dune
In this interstellar feudal society, familial houses like House Atreides vie for power. There’s nothing more powerful than spice or melange, a multi-purpose substance upon which this entire futuristic civilization runs. However, there’s only one place to get it – Arrakis. Paul Atreides’ story may be the heart of the chronicles, the thematic ground it covers span the cosmos. The 2021 movie adaptation is not the first one to be released to the public.
However, a lot of fans feel that David Lynch’s film and the 2000 mini-series both fall woefully short in their own ways. Some also believe that no adaptation can do the source material justice. Of course, this didn’t stop fans feel a little bit of excitement and intrigue with the upcoming epic adaptation under Denis Villeneuve‘s direction as the French-Canadian filmmaker vowed to base everything from the books themselves.
Dune is set 20,000 years in our future, revolving around the evolution of mankind both physically and mentally over the course of several thousands of years. The first book introduces the character Paul Atreides, the result of a breeding program that had been going on for many generations which Bene Gesserit has orchestrated. The Bene Gesserit are an exclusively all-female group that pursues mysterious political aims and wields superhuman physical powers. They manipulate the inhabitants of the Imperium through the use of their many mysterious skills.
Melange, often just called ‘spice,’ remains the most-valued commodity in the universe. Without it, no commerce would occur between the thousands of worlds in the universe and the Empire would fall. Aside from commerce, melange also has properties that allow it to greatly extend the life of whoever consumes it. Without it, the witches of Bene Gesserit would lose many of their powers. It increases longevity and heightens awareness. However, it has addicting qualities that if one stops taking it, the intense withdrawals would mean their death.
Melange is only found in Arrakis or also known as Dune. It is a harsh desert planet where giant worms roam the sands attacking all rhythmic motions. The ancient Fremen descendants of the Zensunni wander during the night in stillsuits which maintain the moisture of the body. Paul and his family move to Arrakis. They were forced into a plot, orchestrated by the Emperor, his father’s archenemy. Together, the Emperor and the Harkonnens intend to destroy the noble Atreides. The first novel details the awakening of Paul’s hidden abilities and his rise to power.
The ensemble cast remains promising and astounding. All things considered, we can’t think of any other actors better suited to play their characters in this much-anticipated adaptation. It includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Batista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, David Dastmalchian, Chang Cen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
Sure, Chalamet and Zendaya may be young. But, both have proven themselves multiple times over. Furthermore, the presence of such consistently excellent performers like Ferguson, Isaac, Skarsgard, and Bardem guarantees that the acting will be top-notch. As for Momoa and Batista, we can only hope that we’ll get to see these two heavyweights trade blows. This already has ‘Best Ensemble’ written all over it.
A lot of critics and fans believe that Villeneuve will do an excellent job in cracking the code of this seemingly unfilmable chronicle due to his excellent track record. He produced several well-received French-language Canadian films. Then, he broke into the mainstream in 2013 with Prisoners and Enemy. Both of which showcase his ability in tackling challenging subject matter with grace and nuance. With Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, he has since distinguished himself as one of the most capable cerebral science-fiction directors of his generation.
The science-fiction genre has given us countless fictional futuristic societies. However, only a handful of those remains as lovingly crafted as that of Dune. This refers to the level of complexity comparable to what J.R.R. Tolkien achieved with the history of Middle Earth. Of course, the Star Wars extended canon also comes to mind. Although these remain works of fiction, the attention to detail makes the fabricated society feels fully functional to the point that it could exist.
Frank Herbert released six books in the Dune Chronicles. He taught his viewers many things about the trappings of power and the dangers of religious fanaticism. Aside from that, his books also display the lesson behind the harm that can be caused when individuals blindly follow their leaders without question. The series also remains an example of how an author can completely subvert expectations but interestingly and cleverly. Ultimately, Herbert teaches us something about the human condition.
The biggest hurdle of making a sci-fi adaptation is getting the reader or the viewer to suspend their disbelief and feel transported into this larger-than-life universe. A world this rich has rarely, if ever, been brought successfully to life on the big screen before. To bring Frank Herbert’s world to life effectively, Villeneuve remains meticulous as he goes above and beyond to create such a set design as seen on the trailer. The director has given us something to look forward to, something as close to reality.
From costumes to ship and technology, everything we’ve seen so far feels as if they came from a painstaking pre-production process. According to Villeneuve himself, a year of planning went into the sandworms alone. Of course, this includes the texture of the skin and the system of how it eats its food in the sand. They made it their mission to make the creature as real as possible. He remains passionate about this project, endeavoring to do the novel justice. Reading all the books of Dune, he finds beauty in the world’s complexity and the richness of the fictional culture.
Sci-Fi as a genre encompasses an endless variety of tones, approaches, and sub-genres. For Villeneuve, his interest in sci-fi seems to be in its potential to explore high-concept ideas that remain deeply human. He also remains poised to do Herbert’s novel proud in terms of Dune‘s mind-blowing themes and far-reaching ideological questions. From the looks of the trailer, the director gives us Christopher Nolan levels of spectacle, ensuring that Dune remains a feast for both the mind and the eyes.
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Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.