Adapted from Frank Hubert’s culturally iconic work of fiction, Dune (2021) is a Sci-Fi action-adventure film, with intricate and well-thought-out political drama, which enriches its harsh but beautiful world.
Following the main character Paul Atreides, we see that his life is torn apart as the emperor assigns their house the mission to rule Arrakis, a planet where they harvest Spice – a valuable essential source that allows travel across the universe.
However, their mission is turned upside down, due to the hidden agendas of the past rulers of Arrakis (and even the emperor himself).
It’s not a secret how influential Dune has been on the sci-fi genre- it has revamped the whole concept of what was typically known as sci-fi.
Some may argue that Star Wars completely ripped it off (unpopular opinion?). From the striking similarities of Tatooine to Arrakis and the concept of the Force being similar to the voice, a power to manipulate people’s actions, Dune was definitely an inspiration.
However, setting controversial opinions aside, I wanted to highlight Dune’s impact and how this adaptation has elevated this; it creates a diversion from the two concepts the genre was associated with. These were books detailing “implications of future developments of technology” and “adventures in space”.
Hubert instead built his world from scratch and valued mundanity to express the ideals of his world. Dune as a film emphasised this, as the gorgeous planets of Caladan and Arrakis finally gave a picture to Hubert’s vision.
Dune was the first book that described the everyday life and mysticism of a declining post technological alien society in tactile detail.”
Credit: Reddit User’s Post
Personally, the feature that stood out to me the most whilst watching Dune in cinema was the score (music) created by the critically acclaimed Han Zimmer. Its use of harsh drums created a sense of supremacy; a theme closely associated with the untameable nature of Arrakis’ desert landscape.
Two of my favourite compositions on the soundtrack are “Dream of Arrakis” and “Night on Arrakis”, the latter conveys the sense of hopelessness Paul must feel on this planet as he meets people who refuse to know him and is faced with an empty desert, dominated by gigantic worms that lock onto any rhythmic sound pattern.
The fact that Zimmer placed so much effort and confidence in this soundtrack only adds to the iconic nature of Dune as being otherworldly and unlike anything we have seen in Sci-Fi. With a deterrence from the ‘typical’, Zimmer focused on utilising sounds such as scraping metal and Indian Bamboo flutes, to name a few. This inclusion of atypical sounds really cements Dune as its own world, a harsh and imposing one at that. Believing this is one of Zimmer’s best works, the score for Dune is impactful as it is a device utilised to paint a convincing universe the characters live in.
“Nobody had ever heard before.”
“Zimmer’s most unorthodox and most provocative.”
Credit: Darryn King, New York Times
However, diving into differing opinions I soon discovered the disappointment of the advertisement of Dune and its abrupt ending that didn’t quite give viewers everything they wanted. Looking into the trailer, in more depth, I started to see what other people saw- a trailer for a film that promised a lot but only gave little back.
This could be seen through the prominence of the character Zendaya plays (Chani), as she appears through visions throughout the film and is only properly introduced at the end of it.
It is also presented as an action-heavy drama alongside a romance, whilst the majority of the film is a political information dump with thrilling scenes only dotted throughout. People expected Dune to be action-packed, not a slow burner, but I thought this proved they had missed the point.
Whilst the advertising lacked a true depiction of what Denis envisioned, Dune was never supposed to be the ‘complete package’, it’s only part one to a much bigger story. It may be a package we have to wait another three years for, but if the next instalment is as breath-taking and passionately made, then it’s something I’m willing to wait for.
Another criticism was that it was too boring and full of world-building expository, that there wasn’t enough drama. However, I disagree as Hubert has so clearly put so much intricacy and detail into his world to make it feel real and connect with us. With a focus on politics, a lack of this would leave Dune to be empty and unexplored. Closing off your opinion on Dune by just watching part one doesn’t allow you to see the whole picture.
The film spends so much time trapped in expository sludge that it provides us with precious little actual drama or character evolution”
Credit: Kevin Maher, The Times
The director of this blockbuster, Denis Villeneuve, once an indie French filmmaker has absolutely proved the worth of foreign film, as the success of his career will ultimately lead to an uprising of indie voices reaching the mainstream.
Beginning his directorial debut with the low budget romantic drama August 32nd on Earth, Villeneuve has confidently improved into a filmmaker that is assertive enough to lead his own sci-fi franchise, gambling on a project that could potentially end his career, or through determination and risks, could prosper into the next big science fiction story.
Villeneuve, with his origins as a small-time Director, has bridged a gap between the traditional yet upsetting rejection of foreign film, as his path from arthouse filmmaker to Hollywood standard creator, illustrates a point for inspiration, that other foreign filmmakers should aspire to follow.
Though Villeneuve has entered the mainstream, he still values his past skills and creativity, pouring his complete filmmaking flavour into the sci-fi hit. Instead of depending on conservative techniques that aim to please an audience, the inspired director approaches the big screen with his own unique vision, further sketching an image that not all blockbusters must adhere to a specific model- there is room for innovation.
There are so many aspects of Dune I could write paragraphs on to present my opinion on it and how it’s not just a pretty movie to watch. There has been incredible passion poured into every detail by Villeneuve, from its intimidating soundtrack to the incredible performances by big names.
Although Dune may have been falsely advertised and left people disappointed by its abrupt end, I firmly believe with the whole picture through the next two instalments, that it may become the next sci-fi hit that is rewatched and remembered for years to come.
Words by: Olivia Davies
Edited by: Tamikka Reid