Spectacle in cinema doesn’t come bigger than Dune. Covering the vast expanse of the known universe of the Imperium, Dune chronicles the diplomatic intrigue, commercial interests and political treachery between House Atreides, House Harkonnen and House Corrino.
Powerful rulers and leaders command the Houses. Duke Leto Atreides, Lady Jessica and their son Paul are the firm yet peaceful leaders of House Atreides. Baron Harkonnen is the brutal, ruthless and hideous head of House Harkonnen. The most powerful of them all is the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, who rules the Imperium bolstered by his unrelenting, merciless and fanatically loyal troops, The Sardaukar. A single substance controls the Imperium and all the Houses. That substance is spice. Melange to be precise. Commerce in the Imperium universe revolves around melange. At the Emperor’s behest, melange bestows immeasurable wealth on the House that controls the harvesting and export of the spice. Fremen, the indigenous inhabitants of Arrakis, are subterranean rebels who oppose the mining of spice and are resolved to terraform Arrakis into an arable world rather than remain a desiccated planet.
House Atreides: Lady Jessica, Paul, Duke Leto
House Harkonnen: Beast Rabban Harkonnen, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Giant sandworms roam the spice planet Arrakis
Everything in the Dune saga is controlled by and central to the spice melange, a by-product of the giant sandworms that inhabit the desert planet Arrakis, colloquially known as Dune. The giant sandworms are a dominating factor in the ecology of Arrakis. There are many leaders and would-be leaders throughout Dune, but, according to Fremen Liet-Keynes, there is only one master, Shai Halud. And Shai Halud is, indeed, formidable.
Melange’s higher value is its use as a mind-bending drug that allows its users to see visions to control the past and their future. The ultimate power of the spice is the Imperium’s absolute control of the Spacing Guild’s spice navigators, mutated creatures that are shrouded in a mist of melange that gives them the monopoly on all space travel, transport, and Imperial banking. They traverse the vast distances across the Imperium’s universe instantaneously through their spice-altered mental capabilities. Without them, space travel ceases.
The Spacing Guild's Spice Navigators
Beyond that, Dune and the Imperium is enveloped with its religiosity and the powerful women who are front and centre in all aspects of Dune’s chronicles. The Bene Gesserit are a mystical religious sect that invokes high-order, multi-dimensional powers involving prescience to build prophecies around the Imperium’s lineage. Among Fremen, Chani has presence and strength in her position within the sand dwellers and her connection with Paul Atreides.
The Bene Gesserit
If all of that is not enough to provide a sense of the breadth of Dune’s spectacular cinematic vision of Frank Herbert’s book, then you need to look to the dominating landscapes, sumptuous costumes that delineate characters and their status, colossal battles, and resonant—some would call it loud—sound. And there’s so much more.
Director Denis Villeneuve has pulled all these pieces together in an intricate and understandable flow of carefully delineated characters, solid storytelling, politics, wealth, colonialism, betrayal and treachery set against a universal scale. Dune needs the full 2 hours and 35 minutes to explore all that is Dune. It is epic in its nature. Dune’s impact and intricacy is due to Villeneuve’s fascination, bordering on obsession, with Frank Herbert’s Dune books trilogy.
“The first audience member I wanted to please was myself,” the director Denis Villeneuve said of tackling his Dune adaptation.” from The Atlantic
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By David Sims 28 October 2021
There are clearcut references in Dune to movies such as The Fifth Element, Star Wars, and The Greatest Story Ever Told, but a movie that references previous films is not the same as a derivative movie. Dune and Denis Villeneuve respect and understand the richness of film heritage. Villeneuve references them but makes Dune his own project.
For those of you who bother to watch films to the end of the credits and read the last section of film reviews, the full title of Dune is Dune (Chapter One). In the true sense of a film saga, and in keeping with the sprawling universe of the Imperium, Dune needs and has received the correct treatment by director and co-writer Denis Villeneuve. He has presented a multi-dimensional tale in a manageable and clear manner.
Official Trailer Dune (Chapter One)
Dune is a saga in the fullest meaning of the word. The second instalment will deliver the final chapter of Dune and unveil the secrets and expectations that were revealed in Chapter One. I, for one, will wait expectantly for the continuation of the saga surrounding Paul Atreides, the Bene Gesserit, Fremen and the spice called melange.
Strictly speaking, if science fiction is not your preferred genre, Dune’s science fiction veneer is built on a foundation of power, corruption, commerce, survival, life and death in a style reminiscent of other sagas such as the original Star Wars’ trilogy, The Godfather trilogy and Ben Hur. The Godfather is about Mafia families and criminal allegiances. Ben Hur follows the travails of Judah Ben-Hur during Roman times. Each of those films is imbued with more than the characteristics of their genre.
In keeping with that thinking, Dune is expansive beyond its science fiction attributes. Having said that, if you still don’t enjoy science fiction, that’s fair enough.
By Nate Jones, 26 October 2021
My recommendation is to see Dune in a cinema with a huge screen and an encompassing sound system. You will experience a loud and comprehensive viewing. No matter what size TV screen
you own, it will not do Dune justice and will not give you the full spectacle that Denis Villeneuve has created. Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune demands a complete cinema experience. Streaming will not allow you to immerse yourself in the universe of Dune. See it in a cinema!
Dune (Chapter One)
2 hours 35 minutes
Cinematic Spectacle & Dynasties
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather--Part II (1974)
The Godfather--Part III (1990)
The three films in The Godfather trilogy were nominated for a total of 28 Academy Awards, for which they won nine Oscars. For the Best Supporting Actor award, both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II had three actors nominated for the award, which is a rare feat.
Ben Hur won 11 of the 12 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Charlton Heston). Wyler's 1959 film was an adaptation of the bestselling novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, published in 1880 by Lew Wallace.
Episode IV--A New Hope (1977)
Episode V--The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Episode VI--Return of the Jedi (1983)
BOOKS OF DUNE
The Original Trilogy by Frank Herbert