Movie Review, Dune


Story by Victoria Fondeur and Alex Paulino

Dune, in film form, has been attempted numerous times. In 1984, we had David Lynch throw his hat into the ring with his adaptation of Dune. It was a complete incoherent mess that even Lynch himself despises. Going into Dune (2021), my hopes were not very high. Audiences maintained the idea that it would be better than most Dune attempts, but were still extremely skeptical. The cast was filled with an overload of A-list celebrities, such as Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Oscar Issac, amongst others. After its premiere on October 22, the question fans are asking is, was it worth all the hype? With this in mind, it was worrisome that perhaps Dune would try to balance the abstract concepts of the novel with classic hollywood-fluff, just like the Lynch film that preceded it. What viewers got instead was a surprisingly faithful film that marks its own legacy without trying to obstruct the original source material.

“Fear is the mind killer” -Lady Jessica

Dune is not an ordinary scientific fiction narrative, it’s an expansive space-opera odyssey with political elements that preach the ideas of individualism and youthful uprising. Dune follows the story of Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet), the heir to the House of Atreides. Paul’s father, Leto (played by Oscar Issac), is assigned to become the new ruler of Arrakis, a harsh desert planet that holds a valuable spice. Paul keeps envisioning a future in Arrakis, filled with new faces and turmoil. While Paul is questioning whether colonizing Arrakis is a good idea, the fight for spice production continues, with Paul having no choice but to endure the potential dangers of Arrakis. 

An attempt to thoughtfully summarize Dune in a spoiler-free setting would be useless. Dune has a multitude of spiraling parts that would prove difficult to describe in just one paragraph. However, this complicated plot structure is truly what carries the interest for Dune, as it makes it extremely unpredictable. 

“It lacked a bit in some story aspects, but I feel like that’s what will make the next chapter so intriguing,” said sophomore Samuel Schweitzer. “Overall, it was a very good watch.” 

Dune was full of symbolic moments that movie buffs loved to uncover. Most of them were surrounding Paul and his journey from being the Duke’s son, to being the Duke of Atreides. Early in the movie Paul’s grandmother met with Paul to discuss his impulses, and Paul had to undergo immense pain by putting his hand in a torture box, or die if he pulls his hand out of the box. Paul overcoming this physical pain showed his mental strength and willingness to succeed. 

While these are not the only marvels of the movie, the plot came with some confusing resolutions, or lack thereof. One plot point that the audience did not get to see much of was the relationship between Lady Jessica (played by Rebecca Ferguson) and the Bene Gesserit, a mysterious political sisterhood. As of now, all we know is that Lady Jessica was supposed to have a daughter to be “The Chosen One,” and Paul keeps having visions of Lady Jessica with her newborn. 

Dune is mystical in both its story and presentation. There are a myriad of interesting cinematography choices that highlight the scope of the film. There are multiple moments where the film takes a breather to express the beauty of planets like Arrakis and Caladan, which is great for getting the audience adapted with the film’s settings. The CGI in this film is spectacular, particularly the designs of it’s spaceships and architecture. It’s interesting to discover not just the characters, but where they reside. 

Additionally, this film introduces a variety of futuristic technologies to immerse the audience in the universe of Dune. On the planet Arrakis, there is no water, so the Fremen, and now the newly arrived Atreides, need to learn about and use the technology for conserving and reusing water. The Stillsuits seen for most of the movie are designed to protect the characters from the harsh elements and have a system built into them that collects sweat and other fluids to convert them to drinkable water, which is essential for survival on Arrakis. 

From the first scenes of the movie, the set and costumes were quite literally “out of this world.” There was immense attention to detail for the different types of costumes for the different houses. For example, the costumes of Atreides and Harkoneen symbolized their wealth and status and were more formal and dark compared to the Fremen. The people of Arrakis look as if they scavenged their suits from a variety of sources. All the characters from each house look unique with their costumes, giving the feeling of nomadism, which fits well with the Arrakis people. 

This film is packed to the brim with interesting plot elements, visual effects, cinematography, and costume designs. The key issue really relies on how it chooses to export these aspects to a broader audience. A fan of the original Dune series will find this film to be quite stellar, but it will most likely be the contrary for newer fans of the series. 

This makes the film’s choice of A-list actors as its headlining feature to be quite confusing, as it implies that the film is trying to be approachable to a standard audience, when in reality it is not. Regardless, it is still difficult to critique Dune too harshly. It’s just a shame that film viewers will have to wait a few years before getting the answers to their most burning questions in the part two sequence.


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