Dune belongs to that category of books whose film adaptation has been cursed. Ridley Scott resigned from the project due to the complexity of the script, David Lynch made a first approximation in 1984 which was beaten by critics and the public and from which the filmmaker himself resigned due to its terrible editing. And already in 2000 another approach was tried through a miniseries of three chapters whose cast headed William Hurt.
Neither project came anywhere near the complexity and majesty posed by Frank Herbert in his saga, a special epic in which the planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, became the center of a universal conflict for control of the spice-drug (melange) that allowed both acquiring cognitive powers, lengthening life or making special trips by folding space.
Master in creating worlds
Villenueve, one of the greatest talents in today’s cinema in the elaboration of atmospheres (Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, The Arrival), he has been the first to manage to transmit to the public part of the sensations that the work captures.
His first great success has been put a complex story in order which admits many interpretations and has done so by placing the pieces one after another, somewhat simplifying the depth of its characters and offering a story of ambition, politics and betrayal understandable to the viewer. It is a kind of Game of Thrones space, not in vain George R.R Martin He was inspired by this story to create his universe. With him he shares many characteristics: different noble houses that fight for power, the hope of a Messiah, betrayals and an intangible evil that threatens everyone.
Dune is a multifaceted film where each viewer will focus on what is most familiar to them from the prism of today. Some will see certain parallels with the current political situation where two superpowers fail in their attempt to dominate a hostile land with an enormously valuable resource and inhabited by a people, the Fremen, with many cultural similarities to the Muslim. Others will interpret it as a hymn to ecology in the face of the indiscriminate exploitation of nature. For a few it is the struggle for power without any ethics and where economic and religious factions struggle to impose their influence regardless of the personal values that have to be trampled on. But above all those visions there is a epic tale on a planet, Arrakis, that fascinates with its desolate and serene beauty. The Villenueve Desert combines the adventurous component of David lean on Lawrence de Arabia with the light and hostility of David O. Russell on Three Kings.
Spectacle in the visual
The film has a good rhythm, the first third is dedicated to the presentation of the characters and to contextualize the situation, something that for which one day David Lynch used a voice-over (in addition to explanatory brochures that were delivered at the entrance of the cinema ) and that here flows naturally. Villeneuve once again shows virtuosity when it comes to creating environments and with an excellent use of light and photography. Despite being a Science Fiction film there is no abuse of special effects and the creation of machines and cities is done with great pleasure. It is a sight to see the mechanical dragonflies with which they move through the deserts of Arrakis. It is the first post-pandemic film that is essential to see on the big screen to appreciate all that it offers.
Hans Zimmer returns to give a resounding soundtrack, which combines elements that are familiar to him from other films such as Interstellar or Black Hawk Down, and which adapts perfectly to the narrative rhythm of the story. Despite the fact that there is not as much action as is usual in science fiction cinema of recent times, one has the feeling that the film does not give up and that every moment it is shaken by Villenueve.
As for the cast, two figures overshadow the rest, on the one hand it is Timothée Chalamet (Paul Atreides) who is confirmed with the most promising young talent of the moment and on the other, Rebeca Ferguson (Jessica Atreides). The first is capable of creating a credible Paul Atreides, adjusted to the novel and restrained in his acting. As for Rebeca Ferguson, she endows her character, Duke Atreides’ concubine, with a strength that the rest of the secondary girls lack: Oscar Isaac (Leto Atreides), Josh Brolin (Halleck), Bardem (Stilgar), Jason Mamoa (Duncan Idaho), Dave Bautista (Glossu Rabban), zendaya (Chani) and Stellan Skasgard (Baron Harkkonen). Among them stand out Jason Mamoa with his jokes, Bardem with his English with a marked Spanish accent and Oscar Isacc in an excessively Manichean role. While the presence of Dave Bautista or Zendaya is merely testimonial awaiting a second part that allows them to take focus.
Dune becomes, before the absence of the second part of Avatar, in the great reference of the genre for the coming years. Regarding its entertainment capacity, suffice it to say that after 2 hours and 35 minutes of footage, one is left wanting more and excited about a continuation that, as of today, still has no confirmed date. The wait will be long.