Dune Movie Review


Lulu Vitulo

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Lulu Vitulo, Copy Editor

The movie “Dune” was released on HBO Max and in theatres on Oct. 21, in the U.S. It did well in its opening weekend, making about $41 million domestically. It has a running time of about 2 hours and 35 minutes, and stars popular actors such as Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya.
“Dune” is based on the book series “Dune”, by the same name, written by Frank Herbert. The series has six total books, which has made making a movie adaptation very difficult. Time writes that, “Over the 56 years of its existence, “Dune” has earned a reputation for being ‘unfilmable.’”
This can be seen in past attempts that have not gone well, as the book series is incredibly long. It’s difficult to fit so much information into a single movie. “The Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky famously abandoned his “Dune” movie in the ’70s, and David Lynch’s 1984 version was deemed such a disaster that Lynch himself disowned it. There was also a bland 2000 miniseries that at least understood that the book might be too dense to squeeze into a single film,” said a review by NPR.
In fact, a sequel to “Dune” is already underway. Denis Villeneuve, the director, had already planned for the movie to be in two parts, and Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. recently announced the reality of the second movie. This is due to the surprising success the first movie made. It made 41 million dollars at the box office in the U.S over the weekend that it came out on, and then 220 million dollars internationally.
Villeneuve said himself that there would have to be two movies. “”I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie,” Villeneuve said in April. “The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in the details,” reports CNET.
“Dune” centers around the son of a powerful family, the Atreides, who is being trained to one day take his father’s place as the head of this house. In this fantasy world, people rule over different planets, and are under the collective rule of a mysterious “emperor.” The movie deals with themes of colonization, as the family is instructed to take over a planet with a valuable resource, and successfully harvest it for the empire. The backstory of this planet shows that it was once taken over, and it’s people attacked and exploited, by a ruthless other family. The central conflict is between the previous rulers of the planet, and the house of Atreides.
There is a heavy influence of Islamic/Arabic culture in “Dune”, which has made it come under fire since the leading character(s) are white. “”Dune” uses explicit Islamic imagery and cultural elements, experts say. But the main cast doesn’t feature a Middle Eastern or North African, aka MENA, actor in a prominent role,” said NBC.
The movie does hint that the sequel will have more focus on the native people of the colonized planet, and there is still a lot of diversity present in the movie. Several characters that are integral to the story, or are foreshadowed to be, are people of color– such as Zendaya. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the leading character, described almost as a messiah or savior, is white (played by Timothée Chalamet).
Denis Villeneuve, the director of the movie, defended himself saying, “It’s not a celebration of a savior. It’s a criticism of the idea of a savior, of someone that will come and tell another population how to be, what to believe,” he explained. “It’s not a condemnation, but a criticism. So that’s the way I feel it’s relevant, and that can be seen as contemporary,”” reports Insider.
In terms of cinematography and production, the movie is beautifully done. “Dune” was mostly filmed on site, without CGI, in Hungary, Jordan, Abu Dhabi and Norway. The landscape shots of the deserts in the Middle east and mountains in Norway are breathtaking. “Dune”’s cinematographer is Greig Fraiser, who also worked on “The Mandalorian”, a series from the “Star Wars” universe. His influence explains how reminiscent the movie is of “Star Wars”, but viewers should remember that “Dune” was written long before then, with a difference of about 10 years.
The movie’s compelling plot and even more captivating cinematography was a hit with movie enjoyers internationally, and it remains to be seen if it will be up for any nominations in the future. And, if it’s sequel will measure up to expectations. As the New York Times writes, “Whether it will become the kind of gift that keeps on giving is up to the audience.”