Spoilers must flow.
Movie adaptations of books cannot imitate the writing style of the author. Furthermore, it’s up to the filmmakers to come up with a style of visual storytelling than will show the content for the film medium. I didn’t watch this feature film expecting it to give me the same story experience than the book did, and I don’t think it’s fair to judge it by that standard. It is a beautifully crafted film, and it’s obviously the same story. The storyteller must rely on the strengths of film, and as such it is quite an accomplishment. If you have even a mild interest in this film, I do recommend seeing it.
Dune (2021) is directed by Denis Villeneuve based on the screenplay written by him, Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth. I have read the novel by Frank Herbert some years back, but I don’t count myself as a hardcore fan. I did watch the 1984 version by David Lynch, which despite it being cheesy I feel it has its place. Nevertheless, this is a completely new film. Paul Atreides (Timotheé Chalamet), son of the Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), has dreams about the mysterious world of Arrakis and a mystery Fremen girl (Zendaya). The Emperor has decreed the House of Atreides will take over the planet of Arrakis, otherwise known as Dune, from its current masters, the villanous House of Harkonnen. Paul tries to get the Duke’s right-hand man Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) to bring him along in the first trip, but he’s turned down.
The visual style is both simplicity and complexity, allowing a lot of the elements of the story to exists without devolving into exposition. Villeneuve wisely has shied away from explaining everything you see, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. I appreciate the concise storytelling with the visual style hiding other elements you can only fathom. You might miss more than a few, but for the audience looking for more detail, they can eventually grab a copy and go over each frame to find more.
I found a somber solemnity on each scene. Despite the enormous amount of material to cover, the filmmakers have opted to give each scene its time to instil on the viewer a sense of wonder. It’s not relying specifically on visual effects, but rather on the effect of each visual – if that makes sense. For that, I have to appreciate the sense of cinematography even if painted on an otherworldly canvas. It is both alien and familiar at once.
Extremely recommended for science fiction aficionados and specially for Dune fans. Casual audiences might have issues with its slower approach and its length, but I don’t count that as a reservation. I think this film has been made for the hardcore science fiction fan in mind, and I applaud the commitment to this vision. It might not be the stuff that fantasy style sci-fi fans are used to getting, but it will feed hungry minds wanting something with both style and substance. Definitely worth a watch.
That will do for now.