In terms of literature that has been deemed unadaptable, Dune is one of the biggest examples in all of media. While there have certainly been attempts in television and film to tell the story of Frank Herbert’s classic novel, none of them really nailed the story in a way that captured the vision you would get from simply reading the book yourself and creating the world in your mind. Acclaimed filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is the latest director to try and take a crack at adapting this beloved novel, and one has to wonder – is it a bit too late? Although no fault to Dune itself, Star Wars has had an abundance of content as of late and heavily borrows from the mythology of Dune in such a way that might make it feel like a ripoff even though it was the trailblazer of sci-fi at the time.
However, from the very first frame you see from Dune, it is abundantly clear that Denis Villeneuve is not only the perfect man for the job but that Dune is as ripe as ever for an adaptation in 2021. In a world that is obsessed with being self-aware and jokey, it’s truly refreshing to see just a straight-forward and serious adaptation of one of the most beloved stories of all-time. The way that Villeneuve and co. design these iconic planets, bring these characters to life, and visualize all the suits, weapons, creatures, etc. that share the space with them is truly… astonishing. There is a part of Dune that feels like a once in a lifetime experience; an absolute feast for the senses that is the type of movie-going experience that you must see on the big screen for the your first initial viewing. It’s the type of film that you will always remember when and where you saw it.
The story of the Atreides family taking over Arrakis is so deeply political, nuanced, and classic – but Villeneuve finds a way to inject it with a newfound sense of urgency and scale that it feels all the more.. epic? Epic is such an overused word in todays culture, but Dune is one of the very few films of recent memory that feels genuinely awe-inspiring. And it’s not just because of the visuals and action of display, it’s also the amount of incredible actors they have in these roles. Timothee Chalamet is an absolutely marvelous Paul Atreides, somehow balancing the doe-eyed innocence of the present and the gloom of the inevitability of the future. Rebecca Fergusson, Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa – all are just a handful of an insanely stacked cast that make a huge impression with their performances, despite it being such an ensemble piece.
All of these elements come together in such a beautiful way to create an experience that is truly special and absolutely riveting from start to finish. From the performances, to the might of the scale in the action and world-building, to the music and absolutely jaw-dropping imagery and cinematography on display – Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is of the absolute best book-to-film adaptations every put to screen, that brilliantly tells its story but makes you eager to see the next chapter continue as soon as possible. A masterpiece in every sense of the word.