The Dune Thread

Started by Silver Nemesis, Tue, 14 Apr 2020, 15:27

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This thread, as the title suggests, is for all things related to Frank Herbert's Dune. The books, the David Lynch movie, the Westwood Studios videogames, the TV miniseries and the upcoming film adaptation directed by Denis Villeneuve.

I used to be a big fan of Herbert's Dune novels and read the entire series when I was a teenager. The original book is clearly the best and remains one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written. God Emperor of Dune is my second favourite book in the series, followed by Children of Dune and Heretics of Dune. I rate Dune Messiah and Chapterhouse: Dune as the worst of the bunch and have a low opinion of both.

I own some of the sequel and prequel books written by Herbert's son and Kevin J. Anderson, but have never really gotten into them. While the original 1965 book is a masterpiece, the quality of the series as a whole is very inconsistent. If you're new to the Dune universe, my recommendation is to simply read the first book and not worry about the sequels or prequels.

As far as previous screen versions go, I admit I love the David Lynch film. It's a total train wreck of a movie, but it has such a unique ambience and artistic vision that I can't help but like it. The soundtrack is excellent and for the most part I like how Lynch and his team visualised Herbert's universe. The performances range from solid to hilariously over the top, and the quality of the special effects is equally variable. But still, I love it.

I'm less fond of the TV miniseries from 2000. Some of the visuals are nice, but other than that it's forgettable.

The Children of Dune miniseries is better. Only the second and third episodes are actually based on Children of Dune, while the first is an adaptation of Dune Messiah. Overall, it's ok.

Then there are the Dune videogames. Dune II (1992) helped define the real-time strategy genre and is often cited as one of the most influential games ever made.

Westwood Studios, who also made the Command & Conquer series, would go on to produce sequels such as Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle for Dune. I still have my copy of Emperor: Battle for Dune. I was always more of a console gamer than a PC gamer, but this is one PC game I played extensively back in the day.

I have my doubts about whether Dune can ever be successfully translated to screen. So much of what makes the book great lies in abstract ideas and internal musings that are difficult to express on film. But if any filmmaker can do it, Denis Villeneuve might be the guy. He directed two of the best proper science fiction films of the past decade with Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Dividing The Hobbit into three films was a terrible idea, but dividing Dune into two might just be the key to making it work. The first images have appeared online in the last few days, and so far it looks promising.

Are there any other Dune fans on the site? Is anyone else looking forward to the new film? With Star Wars and Star Trek both dying a slow death, it's time we had a new science fiction film series to restore dignity to the genre. Dune should accomplish this, provided Villeneuve doesn't drop the ball.

The trailer for Villeneuve's Dune is scheduled to arrive in early September. In the meantime these Empire covers provide an early look at the film, including our first glimpse of a sandworm.

Timothee Chalamet would make a damn good Robin. Especially alongside Pattinson with this darker tone.

Quote from: Silver Nemesis on Thu, 22 Jul  2021, 18:37
New trailer.

Looking forward to an edit of the movie that removes these forced attempts at humor.

Not only did I read that Dune is debuting on HBO Max a day before it opens in theaters, I'm reading comments elsewhere online that it has already leaked on the Internet.

I can only imagine Denis Villeneuve is feeling really pissed off right now.
QuoteJonathan Nolan: He [Batman] has this one rule, as the Joker says in The Dark Knight. But he does wind up breaking it. Does he break it in the third film?

Christopher Nolan: He breaks it in...

Jonathan Nolan: ...the first two.


I recommend seeing Dune: Part I in theatres while it's still showing. It's a good adaptation of the first half of the first Dune novel, though I won't be able to fully judge its quality until I've seen how well the second film turns out. The production values in this first instalment are excellent, combing strong set and costume design with beautiful cinematography to create a picture that is very pleasant to look at. The cast acquit themselves well (Chalamet's acting is good, though I think he's too wimpy for the part of Paul), the pacing is deliberate but effective, and the action scenes don't drag on too long. If you enjoyed Villeneuve's earlier science fiction films, you should enjoy this one too.

One thing that struck me about Dune as an adaptation is how much it leaves out. I don't mean in terms of missing scenes, but rather in terms of significant characters, factions and lore that are glossed over or postponed until the sequel. For example, the Imperium is mentioned frequently, but we never actually see House Corrino, the imperial capital of Kaitain, the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, Princess Irulan, Count Fenring or any of the other important players associated with that faction. The Saurdauker are depicted well, and there is a brief scene on the imperial prison planet of Salusa Secundus. But other than that, the Imperium remains very much a shadowy presence lurking in the wings. For me, this creative decision works. It prevents the first half of the story from feeling overstuffed, while also building anticipation for the second half.

The Imperium isn't the only major aspect of the novel to be sidelined. Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, one of the main villains from the book, is also absent. The Landsraad is mentioned, but no explanation is given for how it functions. The Spacing Guild is mentioned, but the influence it holds over the Emperor and other political parties is not explored. The film also glosses over important matters of lore such as the Butlerian Jihad and the ban on machines that imitate the human mind (hence the need for Mentats). The mechanics of futuristic warfare remain equally obscure, with no mention being made of the outlawing of atomics, or the Holtzman Effect that prevents lasers from being deployed against energy shields. Newcomers might be left scratching their heads wondering why the combatants of the future favour blades over guns. If you've read the book, you'll know why. But if you haven't, then the futuristic battle scenes might strike you as quaint. The movie even glosses over the cause of the vendetta between Houses Atreides and Harkonnen. Again, this isn't a problem for fans of the book, but it might make the plot less accessible to newcomers.

None of these omissions are necessarily points of criticisms, mind. Merely observations. A major part of the book's appeal is the world building component and the feeling it evokes of being immersed in a rich and layered mythology. By holding so much back for the sequel, the film doesn't quite convey the epic scope of the novel (the sequel should though). Not for me, at least. However, the benefit of postponing or downplaying certain elements of the mythology is that the narrative in this first half is effectively streamlined, allowing for a central conflict that feels more intimate and a plot that feels more focused than in Lynch's earlier adaptation. That said, there are aspects of Lynch's version that I definitely prefer over this newer film. For example, (SPOILER) Lynch did a better job of illustrating the trusting relationship between Dr. Yueh and the rest of House Atreides, which made his betrayal of them more impactful. But all in all, Dune: Part I is a good start to the duology and the best new sci-fi movie I've seen in a while. Villeneuve has left himself with quite a lot of characters and ideas to introduce in the second film, and his success or failure at doing that will likely colour my overall perception of this cinematic enterprise. But right now, it's off to a good start.

The new trailer and poster for Dune: Part Two have been released.

I'm not sure about Feyd's hairless look.

In the novel he's described as having short dark hair, which is how he appeared in the TV series.

In Lynch's movie he had a Super Saiyan hairstyle that made him look like an anime villain.

I always preferred the look of Sting's Feyd. Granted, it wasn't accurate to Herbert's description, but then neither is how he looks in the new film.