By: Malcolm Rambert
It can be very interesting seeing anticipation for an adaption of a famed book series depending on where you interact. During the start of the pandemic last year, I started using Discord for the 1st time to chat with the fellow listeners of a podcast I listen to. Over time, I joined more and more servers and a number of them happen to be populated by fans of SFF (science-fiction and fantasy) literature, some of which are writers themselves! I give all this background because going in, I was reminded by how critically-acclaimed and influential the book series this film is an adaptation of thanks to these online communities.
For those who are new to this series of books (like I am), I’ll do my best to summarize: Dune is a series of novels by renowned SFF writer Frank Herbert and contains many themes on the ideas of destiny, fate, and belonging in a very cruel world. David Lynch first adapted the 1st novel into a film that was released in 1986, but the director of this new film, Denis Villeneuve, plans on adapting the whole 1st novel without any need for condensation, specifically in the form of a trilogy.
Going into this film, I had skimmed through some analysis of the books and film, so I was familiar with how steeped these stories were in Muslim culture and language. The film can be pretty hard to follow if you’re not paying attention or even just someone who gets bored easily. In the runtime of 2 hours and 30 minutes, there is more show than tell. The cinematography is the best part of the film, thanks to the brilliant work of cinematographer Greig Fraser.
As for the story, like previously stated, this film requires your full interest. It’s almost as if someone looked at Star Wars, and really wanted to make it more grandiose and technical. The cast is pretty star-studded, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster (pictured above) appears to be a breakout role.
If this all seems pretty vague, it’s difficult to criticize something that is just the 1st half of a story (the film even opens with a subtitle that says “PART ONE”). This film stops dead in its tracks without any resolution to the main conflict at hand, but it definitely looks like they’re building to something.
The film can be watched on HBO MAX with a subscription and is currently nominated for this year’s Academy Awards in 10 categories, including Best Picture.