A masterclass in science fiction cinema – Q30 Television

Evaluation: 5/5

Through will tear

“Inadaptable.” This is the word that has been attributed to Frank Herbert’s seminal science fiction odyssey, Dune, countless times since it was released in 1965. Since then countless failed productions, 2 botched SyFy shows from the early 2000s, and a comically terrible 1984 film by legendary filmmaker David Lynch. Now, if David Lynch, widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers to ever hold a camera, couldn’t put the brakes on the wild sandworm that is Dune, then no one can. The original text is filled with a rich history that is almost impossible to fit into any visual medium consistently. It touches on too many themes to fit into a single film. Enter French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve entered Dune straight out of critically acclaimed films such as Enemy, Prisoners and Sicario. He went on to tackle blockbuster sci-fi movies like box office hit, Arrival. He was even able to do Blade runner 2049, which met poor box office returns but incredible critical reception. According to Blade Runner fans, it even managed to outperform the original source material. So a complicated hardware adaptation challenge is something Villeneuve certainly knows about.

Dune is finally made public with day and date streaming on HBO MAX and in theaters around the world. It’s a technical masterpiece from start to finish. The audio work is transcendent, comparable only to the audio found in Star wars. The sound design perfectly matches the architecture and design of the ship which clearly draws inspiration from brutalist architecture which creates the feeling of being perfectly timeless and futuristic. Modern audiences know the difference between CGI and the real thing and what looks old-fashioned and what isn’t. But in Dune, they complement each other perfectly. No one could ever question the appearance of a 400-meter sandworm roaming the Sahara Desert. The scale of the sets and the CGI is enormous, almost as large as the vastness of the Arrakis desert garbage shown in the film. I have to compare it to David Lean’s masterpiece Laurence of Arabia in this direction. I cannot be more adamant that all of this MUST be experienced with a full sound system and the biggest screen available. The best way to watch it is to go to the movies and get the full experience of Dune.

The casting is as good as the technical aspects. He claims a massive list of fully A-listers. The stars are Timmotheé Chalamet as protagonist, Paul Atreides, Oscar Isaac as father, Duke Leto Atreides and Rebecca Fergeson as mother, Lady Jessica. Chalamet is the perfect Paul as if he were taken directly from the text. He has the air of a slight naivety in someone in his late teens but inherent intelligence and intensity, and plays Paul masterfully as such. Oscar Isacc sports the appearance of an aging, benevolent king with a certain weariness of the world and at times desperate need to be taller with grace than only the Duke of House Atreides would have. Rebecca Fergeson as Lady Jessica is by far the most complex character in Dune. She is to be a mother, queen, spiritual guide, wife, leader and refugee. Fergeson is to play Lady Jessica as someone who is as adept at charming house guests as she can wield a Chrysknife. Fergeson manages to do all of these things while giving Jessica a fragility in the midst of her strength, a trait not even present in the book.

Speaking of things that are not in the book, how true to the book is he? It’s quite DUNE: PART ONE, as voiced in the movie’s opening credits, because you just couldn’t do a good Dune adaptation in under 3 hours. Part 2 will be announced pending Warner Brothers Mentat calculations on the film’s box office returns and HBO MAX views and new subscribers. Villeneuve still manages that little story and the character choices that were the perfect additions to the material to give a largely intelligent but slightly heartless story the heart it needs to anchor a modern cinematic audience. Still, there are a lot of things that are taken straight from the text, many do a lot better than author Frank Herbert wrote. Thus, that of Denis Villeneuve Dune is half a full story and it feels like it. It ends quite abruptly accompanied by the line “This is only the beginning”. A line as much directed towards Paul as towards the public. This decision not to have a full story in a movie has its critics, but Dune: part one this is not the end, it is the journey. This film cements Villeneuve as one of the most exciting new filmmakers of the 21st century. Just like Paul Atréides, we are witnessing a legend in the making. Rating: 5/5

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