Mixed Emotions about Dune

Caveats: I watched it on HBOMax, not in a movie theater.

NO SPOILERS

I read all the Dune books as a kid and loved the first one, enjoyed the second one and waded through the rest. I attempted the son’s books, but didn’t make it past the first. A few years ago, I readed Dune on a cross-country flight. Now I felt it was a bit overwritten and the exposition killed me. Still, the worldbuilding of Dune is brilliant. There is SO MUCH.

The first movie was terrible.

This current movie was much better than I expected…. but

Dune logo
Love the moon making the crossbar of the e.

Just before I heard Dune was being remade (with a cool title logo), I thought with streaming changing budgets and scope that Dune could finally be made the right way as a series. Even just sticking to the books would give decades of seasons. Here’s why, and there’s irony in my answer. To include exposition.

This movie is part one of at least 3 from the looks of it. Even so, it all happened very, very fast. Valient effort at creating a relationship with the Fremen, but one meeting isn’t enough.

Thufir and Peiter are mentats with stained lips from drinking sapho, which enhanced their computer-like minds. Why? Because computers are no-no as a result of a cataclysmic past event. Never explained in the movie (they didn’t have enough time) so their lips have a rectangle instead of being stained. That’s a tiny bit of exposition that was wisely left on the cutting room floor but could have been explored in a series.

That’s a tiny example of worldbuilding that had to be streamlined.

As for the movie, I do think the screenwriter, director, crew, and actors did a spectacular job. Beautifully filmed, wisely cut… I was happy to be impressed. I don’t think you need to have read Dune to understand it, but it would help. Paul’s visions of probable futures is well played, yet could be hard to understand for newbies. They aren’t what happens, but what could happen depending on choices made.

Frank Herbert created one of the most extensive universes of fiction. He did it with notebooks (those paper things, not a tablet), PCs hadn’t been invented yet. He raised the bar on fictional universes and if you want to understand how far you can go in planet-spanning stories, Herbert outstripped Lucas by a mile.

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