The Promise of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune

Dune is arguably the most celebrated work of science-fiction ever crafted. Pages worth of lore and mythos that has been begging for a worthy adaptation after years of less-than-stellar adaptations. 

So when it was officially announced that Denis Villeneuve himself will helm a new Dune movie, fans of the beloved series rejoiced all over the world — especially after his excellent outing in films such as Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, two masterful films that reminded the modern audience that gritty sci-fi can still be done.

Not only do Dune fans have an incoming film adaptation with a master at the helm, it also featured a dashing cast with Timothee Chalamet as young Paul Atreides himself, Oscar Isaac as the Duke Leto Atreides, the stunning Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Zendaya as Chani and veteran Stellan Skarsgard as the cunning Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

…and just as we expected, all the aforementioned elements were the parts that came together to make one satisfying film. Dune excellently brings the atmosphere of Frank Herbert’s Arrakis — translating years of lore into the silver screen with great performances from the cast, excellent blending of practical and computer-generated effects, all masterfully shot by Greg Fraiser’s cinematography.

But yet it is incomplete… 

Dune: Part One (as the opening title states, to the shock and dismay of many), covers approximately half of Herbert’s sprawling novel, showing us the fall of House Atreides to Paul’s acceptance to the Fremen. While Dune covers that as much, there were some brow-raising omissions that was done, such as the absence of important characters such as Feyd-Rautha and Princess Irulan.

These omissions would lead us to think that Part Two will be a packed adventure because it not only has to pick up where it left off with Paul’s journey. But the film must still continue the vast world-building that its predecessor did so well. Characters such as Feyd-Rautha and Princess Irulan play significant roles in Paul’s development. However, it is mostly curious to see how Villeneuve will handle Irulan, considering that she mostly resided in the chapter introductions and then becomes somewhat of a trophy at the end of the story. Something that the SyFy miniseries managed to improve on by expanding her role and involving her more in the narrative.

But Dune is much bigger than these characters, ultimately the most compelling aspect of it is Paul Atreides (or Muad’dib I should say), and how the character evolves…and eventually devolves. What sets Muad’dib apart from others is that he eventually succumbs to his own fear of failure, a trait that is mostly reserved for villains (i.e Anakin Skywalker’s fall to becoming Darth Vader). The last time someone tried to attribute this to a beloved Sci-Fi character — was The Last Jedi and people were not necessarily…keen on the results.

Readers of the book are already anticipating Paul Muad’dib’s arc, but for the uninitiated who were introduced to the sand dunes of Arrakis through Villeneuve — they might find themselves into a more interesting and jangly journey than expected, especially if Villeneuve does get the chance to adapt Dune Messiah — which was compelling in the most controversial ways.

But alas… This is the promise that Dune: Part One has made — a promise that fans will be patiently waiting for to be fulfilled, a deeper dive into the coarse-yet-beautiful world that Frank Herbert has created, retold in the silver screen.

Dune is Available Now in Theaters and HBO MAX

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