2021’s “Dune” is a movie adaptation of the 181,493 word epic science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert in 1965. So it is no surprise that this two-and-a-half-hour movie was barely able to scratch the surface of this very dense story. The second movie which is set to release later this year can hopefully tie up loose ends set by the first movie. There have been many adaptations of “Dune” throughout the years, most famously the “Dune” TV mini-series from the 2000s and the 1984 “Dune” movie. “Dune” has been called the greatest science fiction novel and the inspiration for the Star Wars franchise. The book’s large fantastical world and larger-than-life mythology still capture people’s attention to this day. People are drawn to it because of the themes of high fantasy fiefdoms and feudalism. However, the question remains whether movie adaptations of beloved novels (often complex and convoluted ones) are able to adequately satisfy both the reader and non-reader populations.
The story revolves around a character named Paul whose father is the Duke of House Atreides and whose mother is a member of a sisterhood who has trained to gain superhuman abilities. The Emperor reassigns their House to rule over Arrakis, the planet with spice. Spice is a product that the entire empire relies upon. The conflict comes when House Harkonnen, who used to rule Arrakis, doesn’t want to give up their post.
This movie was full of vibrant landscapes and atmospheres. As someone who has read the book, the movie does portray the essence of the writing well. “Dune” isn’t a plot or character-driven story, instead, it uses complex worldbuilding to illustrate its themes. This movie explores the complexities of human politics. It shows how jealousy and greed can lead to total disregard for human life in the pursuit of power. This movie inspects social psychology and how taking action can rob you of future self-agency. There are strong Catholic undertones throughout this story and I feel like this helps ground it to reality. Through the nun- like figures of the Bene Gesserit to the biblical names like Paul, this story took inspiration from religion and that comes through in the movie.
Though this movie was made for lovers of the book, many of them ended up unhappy. The movie underexplained many concepts and expected prior knowledge from the viewer. Unless you had a concrete prior grasp of these ideas it was a confusing movie that was inaccessible to the general public. The whole movie had an elitist air around it like it was made for people in the know, which it definitely was. To put it shortly, “Dune” was a long perfume ad with weapons and an intense alarmist soundtrack.