Dune - Brief Thoughts

 


I went to see David Lynch's Dune with 6-7 friends on opening night back in 1984 at the Dennis Theater in Dormont, PA. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Afterwards we all went out for our usual drinks and bullshit session, as nerd friends do after a milestone event. We all loved/hated the version of Dune we had just seen. Happy to have any version of Dune on the big screen and angry that so many weird liberties had been taken and that the epic story had been squished down into an allegorical video with bad special effects and strange choices. No matter how you feel about that version of Dune today, you have to admit it is a real mess. Your personal tolerance of that mess may vary from mine, but I recently tried watching it again (I've seen it dozens of times over the years)... but I just couldn't finish it. The years have not been kind.

Everything that we had problems with, or wished that had been different, are realized in the new version of Dune that has finally opened for us here in the US. Watching Dune I felt transported and engaged in ways I didn't believe possible for a story so often oblique and challenging. Exposition was scattered and more naturally presented. Internal voices were left on the inside. No strange weapons appeared. Ornithopters are actual ornithopters!! (And, as a side note, how much more like Black Hawk helicopters do they seem? A fact that only adds to the Iraq/Afghanistan allegory of this new film) I could go on and on with the nerd joy present on screen. But I suspect that not everyone is such a science fiction nerd as I am, so I'll switch back to normal people speak.

Honestly I have no idea how normal people will take this film. I hope they enjoy it. I can't know, because Dune is so engrained in me at this point. Dune was one of the very first science fiction series I read as a young man, a child really, and it has been one I have revisited from time to time in various forms. I'm not a weirdo about it, and I haven't read many of the more recent non-Herbert books. But Dune is in my soul much like Barsoom and other fantastical worlds of my youth. I can't be dispassionate about it.

Luckily that isn't my job. In my opinion Dune is a true modern masterpiece and it has arrived at the perfect time, just after we finally got our asses out of our longest running foreign war. And it desperately needs to be finished. It cannot be truly appreciated yet, because it is only partially completed. And I am more passionate about a Part Two than I was before seeing it. It needs to happen.

I'll be watching it again and again in the coming weeks. Luckily it is available on HBO Max to be watched anytime I want and I plan on taking advantage of that opportunity.

Most likely I'll probably write more about this in the coming weeks. Right now I'm still feeling the high.

Dune Part One, 9.5/10 (potentially a 10/10 depending on Part Two)



Comments

  1. "Honestly I have no idea how normal people will take this film." Really?

    I have yet to see Dune '21... however I, as normal a guy as you might meet (we did, years ago at 2 EVE meet events) loved the original Dune '84 and even liked the Jodorowsky's Dune from 2013.

    It tells the story as well as it could be told at the time and considering how much of that novel simply had to be squished down into an allegorical video of a truly epic story because it was just 1 movie, not the 10 part mini-series it really should have been.

    And, bad special effects and strange choices... I disagree especially considering that it was made in 1984... pretty damn good special affects at that time. And ALL movies make strange choices... you are creating a 2 to 3 hour teleplay out of a very deep and detailed novel... 2 completely different modes of communicating stories.

    I did however really hate the British version... every second of it.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing the new one... assuming it's ok for us merely "normal" people to do that. =P

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    1. I think you took my statement the wrong way. I hope regular non-nerd science fiction fans will love it, I really do. But not knowing any of those, I have no idea if they will or not. Dune is a complex, deep, and convoluted story wrapped around what seems to be a traditional hero-journey, which it isn't. It also happens to be rather allegorical. So, no, I'm not entirely sure how the masses will react.

      I hope you enjoy it.

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    2. Rixx, you and I blog almost exclusively about EVE Online (or in my case, EVE for 10 years, now Star Citizen) so I strongly believe the vast majority of EVE players are very deeply nerdy Sci-Fi geeks. At least the vast majority I met and played with over my years in that game were. And personally, I don't care how "the masses" react to anything.

      Anyway...
      So I watched the new DUNE. And yes the FX & cinematography are really amazing (it's 2021, they had better be amazing), but... I care only about the STORY. The original story, as written.

      (1) They "gender swapped" Liet Kynes from a man, the "Leader" of the Fremen and the "father" of Chani Kynes... into a useless angry woman. A really stupid, very political and unnecessary change.

      (2) They made The Lady Jessica, a Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood FFS into a mealy, whining, weak parody of the strong intelligent and highly trained woman portrayed in the book.

      (3) they got rid of Feyd-Rautha completely. The reason given is "Feyd is barely in the first half of the first book, and the new film won’t really get to the stage in Herbert’s story where Feyd does anything significant." I don't care. He is a character in the story... you don't get to change the cast of a story you did not create and say it's the same story.

      (4) When did they tell us it was a 2 part movie? Not once. That was just dumb. If you blink during the title, you miss the 2 seconds of "Part 1" being shown on screen.

      (quote about Feyd-Rautha taken from: https://www.inverse.com/entertainment/feyd-rautha-dune-villain-denis-villeneuve)

      So IMHO this rendition of DUNE was ok, not great but ok. Yes it was amazingly shot and yes the FX are excellent... but I don't like the portrayal of Paul and the changes made to Liet, Jessica & the exclusion of Feyd. And while I mostly like the portrayals of Leto, The Baron, Rabban, the Sandworms, Ornithopters and the rest, this isn't the story of "DUNE" as told by Herbert...

      I wonder what he would have said about these "little" changes to his work.

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