One of the first articles I ever published with Emerald Rangers was a review of David Lynch's 1982 version of Dune. Adapted from the revolutionary science fiction written by Frank Herbert, Lynch's version is notoriously strange and challenging to describe as either a good film or a good adaptation of its source material; with even Lynch himself being unsatisfied with the product he created.
Thinking upon this, Dune as a series has actually garnered a reputation as a franchise which destroys directors and defeats all attempts at adaptation. The source material is just incredibly dense, with many adaptations struggling to properly include everything required to pass as a serviceable adaptation without getting lost in the weeds of Herbert's worldbuilding or missing out on many of the subtextual themes and surrealist imagery which is so fundamental to the entire franchise. It is a precarious precipice to balance upon and I think it is absolutely incredible that Villeneuve was so fearless in his willingness to tackle this issue.
One reason might be his incredibly smart move of dividing this story into two parts. That's correct. Dune is actually only Dune, Part I and I am so fucking thankful for that. If I were to adapt Herbert's series into a visual medium, I would've chosen to do an HBO style TV show in the vein of Game of Thrones, but a two or three part film (if Villeneuve's desire to adapt Dune: Messiah goes through to complete Paul's story arc) is also a fantastic way to balance the story and still allow it to be dense enough to get everything that is so cool about Herbert's world can be on display.
So Villeneuve is on the right track in terms of dividing the story, but does the rest of the film hold up? Or does it fall into the same traps as its predecessors. I normally desire to cover the film as it stands, but for Dune, I think analyzing what it does better than previous adaptations also speaks to what it does well.
Also I think it is important to point out that this is the first film that I have seen in theaters since COVID-19, so what an amazing film to be reintroduced to my favorite setting in, huh?
- Directed by Denis Villeneuve
- Produced by Legendary Pictures
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Running Time: 156 Minutes
- 8/10*** (Until Part II comes out)