Herbert released the Dune novels in 1965 and was heavily influenced through his experience using magic mushrooms, so one story goes, and Dune is said to be the best selling sci-fi novel in the world.
It has also been said to be a nightmare to try and bring to the screen, just ask David Lynch. Whilst Herbert was pleased with Lynch’s adaptation, many others were not, including Lynch himself.
Anyway, none of this has stopped Villeneuve who has cast Timothée Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”, “The King”) as Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto Atreides, Oscar Isaac (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, “Annihilation”), the leader of the House Atreides, ruler of the ocean planet Caladan.
They are sent to the planet Arrakis, a god-for-saken desert planet, but is also the only source of ‘spice’, which is what enables space travel. As if the scorching sun, never-ending sand and lack of water wasn’t enough, there’s also giant 400ft sand worms, drawn to vibrations.
They are taking the job of spice-mining from House Harkonnen, which is led by the enormous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Stellan Skarsgård (“Chernobyl (TV)”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), and they aren’t happy with this arrangement.
Harkonnen enlist the help of the Sardaukar’s and attack House Atreides not long after they’ve arrived on the planet. Led by Beast Rabban Harkonnen, Dave Bautista (“Army of the Dead”, “Avengers: Endgame”), they quickly remove the majority of House Atreides.
Only Paul, his mother Lady Jessica Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”, “Life”) and Duncan Idaho, Jason Momoa (“Justice League”, “Aquaman”), survive and make it out in search of the native Fremen’s, whose leader Stilgar, Javier Bardem (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge”, “Escobar”), he’s already met.
All this is mixed with a few other stories going, and Paul continuously having visions or dreams, usually involving Chani, Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Far from Home”, “Euphoria (TV)”), a Fremen, though his dreams can get muddled.
If this all sounds a bit heavy, that’s because it is. Villeneuve has elected to split his Dune into two parts and this first part, at just over 2.5 hours in length, is just the beginning. The second part is supposedly in pre-production now.
So, to the movie, well straight away I can say that Dune is visually stunning. Villeneuve and his DoP Greig Fraser (“Rogue One”, “Lion”) have done a remarkable job. Filmed in Norway, Jordan and Abu Dhabi the scenery pops from the screen, it’s truly a joy.
There are some similarities with Star Wars and some with Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, in fact there are some shots in Dune that reminded me of the original Blade Runner, which is no bad thing.
All of this is before we get to the sound, Hans Zimmer is the person responsible for the music, but it’s all the sounds on the movie that make it. From the throat singing…music? Whatever it is, to the sounds of the dragonfly-esq fliers, the sound is truly brilliant.
The story is a tad slow, but it needs to be, there’s a lot to take in here and Villeneuve and co are at pains to ensure that they don’t cut Herbert’s novel down too much. What they have done though is cut things right in the middle, should this movie not do well, things will end here, which would be annoying to say the least.
I went into the movie unsure whether I was going to like, having been a bit indifferent about Villeneuve’s previous work, however I was pleasantly surprised, more than that, the more I think about Dune, the more I liked it and I look forward to part two.
22nd October 2021
THE QUICK SELL
Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.