DUNE – The beginning of Denis Villeneuve's massive Space Opera
The French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has accomplished what was thought to be impossible in Hollywood: writing and directing a movie adaptation of the groundbreaking 1965 sci-fi novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert.
First of all, it should be clarified that there is already a Dune movie. David Lynch created a film adaption of the book in 1984, which was not received well by audiences and was torn apart to pieces by critics. Lynch's original version took 3.5h but was cut down to just over two hours by the producer. He would later distance himself from the three-hour-long TV version and delete his name from the credits. This was not the only unsuccessful attempt at a book to film: Arthur P. Jacobs, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ridley Scott, and Paramount Pictures all tried to make a Dune movie, but all of their endeavors failed.
Now, Denis Villeneuve's Dune arrived in cinemas worldwide, and it is a breathtaking sci-fi epic that is made for the big screen. The director himself claimed in an interview with Total Film that watching Dune on television would be like "driving a speedboat in your bathtub."
The film tells us the story of Paul Atreides, who is destined by fate to play a role he never dreamed of. To secure the future of his family and his entire people, Paul must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe. Only in this world does a valuable raw material exist that could enable humanity to realize its full spiritual potential. But sinister powers want to seize control of the precious substance. A fierce battle ensues, in which only those who overcome their own fears will survive.
The most significant difference between this movie and the 1984 movie by David Lynch is that Denis Villeneuve only focused on the first half of the first novel. With a runtime of over two and a half hours, he is able to concentrate even on the small details, something that Lynch couldn't. However, it must also be said that this movie has no conclusion and only works as a prequel or, as Denis Villeneuve calls it: Dune: Part One. The movie serves as a stepping stone for a second part and more to come. Just like Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring served as the beginning of a larger story, Dune is just a taste of what is yet to come. Together the Lord of the Ring movies are great, but individually they are not enough.
It is definitely a slow movie and will probably be seen as tedious and confusing by my many viewers. However, this does not mean that the film is terrible by any means. The actors are near perfectly cast and carry their roles amazingly, even though some of them haven't received the screen time that they deserve, or some viewers would have loved to get. The breathtaking visuals combined with the fantastic soundtrack that really elevates the experience will stick in your mind for a long time, and goosebumps are guaranteed. The great Hans Zimmer turned down Christopher Nolan's Tenet to work on this movie, and his work is perfect.
In the end, I would almost describe this movie as a mixture between Star Wars & Game of Thrones. The world of Dune is captivating and mysterious but needs more explanations. It is almost similar to Mad Max: Fury Road, where you have to understand the world of the film by experiencing the movie. Therefore, the movie feels overwhelming at times, but Villeneuve tries to give us subtle information and guide us. The characters all seem interesting but need more screen time. All in all, it can be said that Dune is made for the big screen and will bring audiences back to theaters after nearly two years of closure. It is the beginning of something big. Villeneuve - as a huge fan of the book - has already started to write storyboards for this film when he was 12 years old and long before he owned a camera. This just shows how much passion and dedication he has put into this movie to make it his own masterpiece.
Mr. Villeneuve elaborated in his interview with Total Film that the pandemic is the “real enemy of the cinema”. He recognized that the industry is “under tremendous pressure” and claimed in an open letter to Warner Bros. that they had shown “absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience” as the film studio wanted to release the movie simultaneously in the cinemas and on their own streaming platform HBO MAX. In his letter the director also said:
“Streaming services are a positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems. But I want the audience to understand that streaming alone can’t sustain the film industry as we knew it before COVID. Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune’s scope and scale. Warner Bros.’ decision means Dune won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise. This one is for the fans.”
In the end, I agree with Denis Villeneuve: If you truly want to experience cinema at its best, go to your nearest cinema and enjoy Dune: Part One.
Written by DI