DUNE - More Thoughts

 


I've seen Dune three times now from start to finish and I have more thoughts to share about the film. But first I'd like to say a few words about how weird people have gotten. Or, at least, how weird they are willing to be online. They may have always been weird, but we didn't have to listen to them. I often find the feedback loop discourse to be strange when anything of public cultural importance happens and I could point to hundreds of recent examples. But let's stick with Dune. I've read a lot of online commentary and listened to a few review podcasts here and there, just to get a sense of the comments. All in all Dune is surviving the usual loop well and that is a testament to the film. 

Unlike other blockbuster series of the past, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter, Dune is not a complete story yet. This is Part One of a bigger story, it is half a story. I don't know why this is so challenging for certain people to understand. This is why Dune doesn't operate in a normal three-part act structure, we haven't seen the rest of it yet. We will in about 2 years or so. And yes, of course, Dune will be getting a Part Two. Don't worry yourself about it. It will happen. Trust me.

Certainly Denis could have constructed the story into two parts with each part given the usual three-act arcs, much like how the last Avengers film was built. But to his credit he didn't do that, as anyone who has seen the ending already knows, this Dune just ends mid-stream. And you may or may not appreciate that, that is your right, but at least you should understand why he chose to do it that way. I choose to respect that choice, you may not.

As for the rest, it all comes down to your own opinion. I respect that everyone has their own opinion, I just prefer it when those opinions are informed, educated, and knowledgable. And I know that is asking a lot these days. We don't all have to like the same things. It's ok. I happen to absolutely treasure this new vision of Dune. In fact, I think it has the "potential" to become the seminal work of cinematic science-fiction up to this point. Notice I say "potential" because I truly do believe we cannot judge Part One completely until we have Part Two available. This does not mean we can't discuss, review, and otherwise debate the merits of Part One - we should - but it isn't a complete work yet. So arguments about character arcs, and emotional resonance, are being made with half the information available. 

One more aside, as anyone who has read more than the first book in the Dune series can tell you, Paul's story is not another white messiah story. I don't want to spoil things here, but simply said - it doesn't go the way you think it goes. Efforts to contort the narrative of Dune into that perspective are doing so without knowledge of the scale of the story being told. Herbert was using Dune to tell many stories, and to build a science-fiction universe as an allegory to many issues. And much like Game of Thrones was intended to up-end many of the tropes of Fantasy, Dune was intended to do the same with science-fiction at the time it was written almost 60 years ago now.

I didn't intend to spend so many words on that. But I get tired of reading comment after comment on other sites from people who simply don't know what they are talking about. Again, you don't have to like the film.

But I honestly can't imagine why you wouldn't. That doesn't mean I think it's for everyone. It isn't a broad, four category blockbuster. It doesn't have attitude, or sarcasm, or in fact many jokes at all. Compared to most modern blockbuster filmmaking it is slow, plodding, and doesn't spoon feed you the narrative it wants you to follow. And it is, understandably, a little weird. Heck it doesn't even have a plucky sidekick. I get that it isn't for everyone. Your taste may vary. And that's fine.

Anyway, those are some more thoughts I had about Dune.

I hope that Part Two happens sooner rather than later and I hope beyond hope that it finishes the story arc from the first book in a satisfying way. I believe it will. But I haven't seen it yet.


PS: Just a few short hours after writing this:

“I just received news from Legendary that we are officially moving forward with Dune: Part Two. It was a dream of mine to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune, and I have fans, cast, and crew, Legendary and WB to thank for supporting this... This is only the beginning.” - Denis Villeneuve

Comments

  1. I subbed to HBO Max just so I could watch Dune. And I'm glad I did. I read the book back in high school and I've seen the 1984 version as well as the SyFy miniseries from .. what was it, 2000? Regardless... my memory of the book has largely faded, so a lot from this film surprised me in details, though perhaps not in the overall arc, I guess.

    I enjoyed it. Probably not enough to re-watch it until part 2 comes out and then as a refresher, but I was entertained throughout, never felt like I was wondering when it'd end, so I call that a win.

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