Denis Villeneuve’s gloriously unfriendly take on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic novel of the same title affords the ultimate cinematic experience and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. The plot that gets Dune underway is one so delicately interwoven in science, magic, politics, economics, religion, and love, and the film still astonishingly affords its many key characters the opportunity to bond with the audience in little over 2hrs.
Set in a richly fascinating dystopian universe, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is humanity’s reluctant messiah, who witnesses the obliteration of everyone he holds dear (including his dad, Duke Leto Atreides, played by Oscar Isaac) apart from his psychic mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), who is torn between protecting her child and preparing him for a dangerous assignment, following what feels like a suicidal mission given to them by the imperial leader of Dune’s aristocratic houses.
Arakis is the only source of the substance spice, mined in the Fremen territory and serves as the sole fuel for intergalactic travel, most importantly. Pretty much like crude oil during its discovery, to be in control of such precious commodity means to be put at the centre of envy. A decree by Dune’s imperial leader banishes the powerful and dubious and savagery Hakonnens from Arakis and hands over the control of the city and its mines to the Atreides, but it was all but a plot to eliminate the noble house, with Duke Leto’s influence perceived to be one that was growing within the universe.
Paul is a brilliant man with lots of abilities, but he’s a product of a dark eugenics and political manoeuvring by a matriarchal order of psychics known as the Bene Gesserit, of which the Lady Jessica, his mother, belongs. The hope of the Bene Gesserit is to create the Kwisatz Haderach- a messiah who may or may not be Paul. However, as the film progresses, Paul gradually becomes immersed in his dreams and the prophecies, accepting his abilities and hopes of finding his one true love, Chani, a Fremen girl (Zendaya) he eventually meets in the final scene, who opens the film by narrating the story of Arakis, the spice, and how the Harkonnen were treating the Fremen before the decree that saw them depart.
Asides its rich ensemble cast, among the numerous strengths of Dune include director Villeneuve’s imagination of the sand city of Arakis, the concept of the sandworms- horrifying, monstrous creatures that move in sand like sharks in water, dragonfly-like spaceships suspended in the air, it’s thrumming Hans Zimmer score, and its ghoulish villains epitomized by the pale looking Baron Vladimir of house Harkonnen.
Dune (2021) is, of course, the first part of two movies planned by the Arrivals director and judging by the high standards set in this first entry, there’s absolutely no reason why the green-lighters at Warner Bros shouldn’t be drawing up a budget for the sequel already.
We know 2021’s seen some massively impressive movie entries already, with many yet to arrive but, Dune stands out. Watch out for how it performs when the award season begins early next year.
Have you seen Dune? You totally should, before the spoilers ruin it for you.