2021 K-12 2h 35min
“Dune” by Frank Herbert had already captivated me as a teenager – because a real SF nerd doesn’t put such a book aside even on a beach holiday in Italy… which is why – absurdly appropriate – there should still be some grains of sand between the pages of this massive paperback edition …
And this film version really manages to transfer the magic of this epic novel to the big screen. Plus the great music – Hans Zimmer!!! – goosebumps, even for me as an “insider”. One of those films you decide to buy the DVD or at least the soundtrack (or both) before you even leave the screening room. And you wanna watch the film in the movie theater again, for sure.
Be warned, however, of a certain feeling of frustration within the first few minutes – when the line “Part 1” appears under the title. On the one hand, it has to be done like this – the biggest mistake of the (failed) 1984 attempt was attempting to fit book 1 of the Desert Planet saga into a single average-size movie. Director Denis Villeneuve thankfully doesn’t even try – but for fans it means once again: WAITING.
And another thing I find incomprehensible – why not 3D as the ultimate Dune experience? Or rather, where is the IMAX version featured on posters you find on the world wide net?
But OK – very briefly to the story: The noble family of Atreides is entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy, the so-called spice, which can only be found on the desert planet Arrakis. But this means conflict all around – with other noble houses, with the Emperor and with the Arrakis people named Fremen – or even war.
As with David Lynch and the TV series, this version cannot entirely do without voice over narration. However, they keep it minimal and found clever solutions: a holo-encyclopedia, for example, gives the characters in the film and also the audience the necessary background information. Furthermore, the authors Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth have cleaned the script of – for part 1 – unnecessary subplots and characters and focus on certain essential scenes. Which means that even those who don’t know any of the Dune books should be able to follow the story.
In addition, the individual characters – familiar faces in the cast from mega-franchises, including Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Mission Impossible – receive more attention. (It’s brilliant that Duncan Idaho, one of my faves in the book, finally has some awesome scenes – and he’s played by Jason Momoa, YEAH!)
Timothée Chalamet as the gangly boyish Paul Atreides looks much more like the (main) character from the book than the far too adult and muscular Kyle MacLachlan (1984) and Alec Newman (TV series). So this cute tiny desert mouse – appropriately featured – finally makes actual sense … (the “insiders” know what I mean, everyone else will have to wait until part 2 🙂 )
Moreover, Dune 2021 certainly benefits from a mainstream audience’s adjustment to the fantasy/SF genre, epic story material – different noble houses fighting each other, like in Game Of Thrones – and fantastic CGI effects which became part of every day (online) life. Less convincing special effects definitely made the earlier attempts unwatchable. Plus, an advanced technology society does not automatically reject authoritarian, strictly hierarchical to fascist forms of government – which is currently being shown to us by various nations – overseas, in the East and also within the EU.
In short: A must-see. Brilliant. Can’t wait for part 2 (or the IMAX version…).
PS: Some of the scenes were filmed in AUSTRIA? Will have to take a closer look next time…
Timothée Chalamet – Paul Atreides
Rebecca Ferguson – Lady Jessica Atreides
Oscar Isaac – Duke Leto Atreides
Jason Momoa – Duncan Idaho
Stellan Skarsgård – Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Stephen McKinley Henderson – Thufir Hawat
Josh Brolin – Gurney Halleck
Javier Bardem – Stilgar
Sharon Duncan-Brewster – Liet Kynes
Chen Chang – Dr. Wellington Yueh (as Chang Chen)
Dave Bautist – Beast Rabban Harkonnen
David Dastmalchian – Piter De Vries
Zendaya – Chani
Charlotte Rampling – Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Babs Olusanmokun – Jamis