When the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” was released in 1984, it became a cult classic. The story tells about an intergalactic war between noble houses that are fighting over control of the planet Dune. This is followed by two sequels and now four more movies have been produced based on this popular novel.

“Dune” is a 1984 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. The story is set in the distant future, when humanity has colonized most of the solar system. In this dystopian setting, one family controls the world through its control of a drug called “spice,” which allows people to live forever and gives them enhanced mental and physical abilities. Read more in detail here: dune 1984.

DESERT STORM DESERT STORM DESERT STORM

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson star in the lead roles.

Denis Villeneuve is the director.

I’m still in a rut because I haven’t found a new theatrical project that is worthy of my abilities and star power. The screenplays that have been coming through special courier and parcel post don’t seem to be the kinds of things that a living legend like me should endorse. The only one that came in this week with any potential was a new Cervantes adaptation called Woman of La Mancha, in which I would play Donna Quixote, a modern-day fashion designer and descendant of the famous 16th-century hero who finds herself tilting at various metaphorical windmills in her attempts to break into the top ranks of European couture houses. 

The screenplay as written might benefit from some reworking, since Donna seems to vanish from the pages for a number of extended digressions into the textile import/export industry, and the few musical pieces look to be very drab affairs with little contribution from the dancing group. I’ve returned the screenplay with twenty-three pages of comments, and if they use my better ideas, we’ll have my people speak with theirs. At the very least, the film will be shot in Spain and Portugal, and a short overseas vacation seems like exactly the thing to shake me out of my depression.

Dune-2021-Starring-Timothee-ChalametThe dilemma is whether to tilt or not to tilt…

To commemorate the possibility of something new on the horizon, I gathered some of my closest friends, including Leah, my director of consumer products, Madame Mimi, my vocal coach, Lulu Pigg, my tap therapist, and Madame Laurie, my accompanist, and treated them all to lunch at Ardor, a recently reopened restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, where we dined on vegetable plates and drank three or four bottles of the house Riesling. We were all in no condition to drive, and the chauffeur had taken the day off, so we phoned an Uber and were soon crammed into the back of a Range Rover. When Leah proposed an impromptu beach excursion instead of returning to Condo Maine to continue the celebration, we agreed.

Our Uber driver, Jonathan, drove us to Venice Beach, where we purchased many pitchers of sangria from an esplanade café and proceeded to flirt with the guys while wriggling our toes in the sand. We decided to go to the cinema to see a movie together after more Sangria. We were all caked in sand from the human pyramid we’d built on the beach, which had fallen when Madame Laurie attempted to seduce a compact, but wonderful muscled beach lad to ascend to the top, so I recommended we go to the new sand epic Dune (Lawrence of Arabia not being on the bill this week). My proposal was enthusiastically received, so we all attended, with Jonathan accompanying us to ensure that we would have an appropriate driver waiting for us at the conclusion of the event.

Since I first read Frank Herbert’s book about Paul Atreides and the desert planet Arrakis in the early 1970s, I’ve been a fan of both the prior cinematic adaptations (David Lynch’s sumptuous disaster in 1984 and the SyFy network’s miniseries in 2000). For various reasons, none of the previous two efforts to bring Dune to the screen were successful. Despite some excellent casting and a stunning production design, David Lynch fell afoul of studio bosses at the time, and the picture was reduced to less than two hours and twenty minutes, leaving the storyline incoherent and the characters uninteresting. 

The miniseries allowed the tale to breathe and even included a few subplots for minor characters, although it was hampered by low-budget effects and casting. I’m happy to report that the third time’s the charm, and the new edition of Dune is a smash hit. Denis Villeneuve, the writer/director, has wisely divided the plot into two halves. The two and a half hour run time is just right for us to get the whole story, with the screenplay clinging faithfully to the book, allowing us to understand who these characters are, feel for their dilemmas, understand the desert planet, and get a sense of the larger politics that motivate the plot. 

Dune is a narrative set in the distant future, many thousands of years from now, when humanity has crossed the stars and colonized numerous planets, all under the dominion of the Padishah emperor. The planet of Caladan is ruled by House Atreides, which is commanded by Duke Leo Atreides (Oscar Isaac). Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), his long-term concubine, has given birth to a son, Paul (Timothee Chalamet), against the Bene Gesserit sisterhood’s wishes. These ladies have embarked on a lengthy human breeding experiment in order to create the Kwisatz Haderach, a guy with supernatural talents. 

Fearing the Atreides clan’s military prowess, the emperor orders them to leave Caladan and take control of the desolate desert planet Arrakis, which is strategically vital since it is the only known source of the spice mélange. The spice has an impact on human mind and is essential for interstellar pilots to be able to fold space and time securely for space travel, making it priceless. 

The malevolent House Harkonnen, commanded by Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard in a fat costume) and his nephew, Beast Rabban, had formerly controlled Arrakis (Dave Bautista). With the help of palace housekeeper Shadout Mapes (Golda Rosheuvel) and imperial planetologist Dr. Kynes, the Atreides family and their henchmen, including warrior Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), Doctor Wellington Yueh (Chang Chen), bodyguard Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa), and human computer Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson), attempt to adapt to their strange new surroundings (Sharon Duncan-Brewster). However, while the emperor plots the demise of House Atreides, Paul and Jessica find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, seeking assistance from the locals, the Fremen, commanded by Stilgar (Javier Bardem) and the lovely Chani (Zendaya). Will Paul be able to fulfill his destiny? Will he find the Fremen to be the friends he needs to take his vengeance? Will the desert’s enormous sandworms turn out to have their own secrets? Keep an eye out for the sequel.

As I already said, Dune is quite loyal to the novel, which is well organized, and this adaptation gets the tale correct by relying in Frank Herbert’s vision (he was an ecology who created the book in order to construct a story about a unique environment). We’re never confused about who’s who or what’s driving different reversals of fortune. A famous banquet scene when the Atreides first arrive on Arrakis and Paul begins to take his first steps towards manhood and understanding the nature of power, as well as an explanation of why there are no computers (machines that think having been outlawed earlier in human history – specially trained humans called mentats now perform those functions) are missing (likely to turn up in a director’s cut Blu-Ray). The mentats have been demoted to supporting roles, which is unfortunate since one of my favorite villains, Piter DeVries (David Dastmalchian), who serves Baron Harkonnen, has been reduced to a blink and you’ll miss his appearance.

Patrice Vermette’s production design for Dune is magnificent in that it seems very genuine, very ancient, and extremely lived in. Things don’t seem to be brand new or newly varnished. Anyone who has actually seen a genuine functional government building understands that even the ceremonial rooms have a patina of age, and that things tend to be messy and full of dark nooks outside of the public greeting halls. The diverse bas relief artwork in the Arrakis royal palace really captivated me, since it conveyed a feeling of primeval mythology and religious mysticism that we can only see and cannot grasp. The clothes of Robert Morgan and Jacqueline West also drew me in. These items have been used, cleaned many times, mended, and have minor stains. They don’t feel like court attire, but more like clothing designed for certain conditions. The somber musical composition by Hans Zimmer adds to the atmosphere.

Timothee Chalamet, who plays Paul, is highly believable in the starring part. When we initially meet him, his small form and light coloring make him seem inexperienced and immature, but he’s old enough and a talented enough actor to begin projecting a certain presence of mind and gravity as Dune progresses, and we can trust in his capacity to endure the obstacles placed against him. In the following film, it will be fascinating to watch how he handles the remainder of Paul’s trip. Rebecca Ferguson is equally excellent as Lady Jessica, and filmmaker Villeneuve makes the two of them the story’s central characters throughout the film. A large portion of the supporting cast is notable. Sharon Duncan-Brewster as the unflappable Dr. Kynes (a male character in the book) especially pleased me. In the context of the plot, the conversion to female makes great sense). Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac provide power and good performance to the film. Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista provide strength and comic-book appeal to the film.

Dune is well worth a night at the movies. If it’s available in your region, I’d even spend a few more bucks to watch it in IMAX. When the broad landscapes of the desert planet are magnified to their full size, they are breathtaking. Just make sure you’re both wearing masks before cuddling up to your neighbor. You may act like a Fremen and save your body’s water.

Sculpture of a bull. The dock rises out of the sea. Bath in mud. Pain in a box. Parasol with frills. Unnecessary bloodletting. Soldier who has been entombed. Tooth poison. Sand crawler is a threatened species. There have been several heroic deaths. Palm palms that have been set ablaze. 

See our introduction, her full back catalog, and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/missvickilester to discover more about Mrs. Norman Maine.

Image courtesy of Pixabay user krystianwin.

Mrs. Norman Maine

Mrs. Norman Maine sprang to life, full grown like Athena, from Andy’s head during a difficult period of life shortly after his relocation to Alabama. Originally from Seattle, Washington, land of mist, coffee, and flying salmon, Mrs. Norman Maine sprang to life, full grown like Athena, from Andy’s head during a difficult period of life shortly after his relocation to Alabama.

The “dune 2020” is a science fiction film that was released in 2020. The film stars Timothee Chalamet and Josh Brolin.

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