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Home > ‘Dune’ (2021) As a Step Beyond The Novel Series

‘Dune’ (2021) As a Step Beyond The Novel Series

‘Dune’ as a film is more about adapting ideas and concepts rather than strict accuracy. Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides in "Dune: Part One" (2021).

More Than Just an Adaptation

As esteemed film director Denis Villeneuve places Dune: Part Two in the hands of audiences in theaters, it’s crucial to take a look at how he has been able to expand on the universe of the novel franchise in visual form. Having dreamed about working with the source material for a film of his own since he was 13, Villeneuve had a multitude of ideas and concepts to think about if he was going to make it work on the big screen. From highly impactful themes to immersive universal contexts, the original Dune novel by Frank Herbert created a masterful story that continues to peer into modern society as audiences know it. Villeneuve seems to have known this from the very beginning and was thus able to be the ideal man to create an adaptation of the novel series. 

Where It All Started

Being Frank Herbert’s most popularized work and one of the most influential sci-fi novels of all time, Dune was able to scratch an itch that readers had been looking for during the time it came out. It surrounds a unique concept that sets its characters in a futuristic timeline whilst also putting those futuristic elements aside for a more grounded and realistic feel. The best way to describe it is that the world of the novel is so technologically advanced that it has had to regress to bare-bones ways of living in order for peace to exist. This is prevalent in the combat that takes place throughout the story, with soldiers having shields that bullets can’t pierce and thus having to return to hand-to-hand combat. Spaceships and interstellar transportation do exist but on a significantly less computerized scale. The main way to use space travel is through a large ship that uses spice resources in order to generate the necessary fuel to support travel. 

Speaking of spice, that is where the main inciting incident forms due to the fact that the only place abundant with the resource is the desert planet of Arrakis. The protagonist of the novel, Paul Atreides, is part of the royal family of House Atreides, led by his father, Duke Leto Atreides. His family is visited by members of the Imperium, who are basically the main people who govern the universe of the novel. The Imperium tasks House Atreides with taking ownership of the spice manufacturing and trade by sending them all to Arrakis. This would be the event that launches the story into what would span several novels and subplots following the events of this assignment from the Imperium. 

Not Just About Spice

The idea of the spice trade and manufacturing being used for interspace travel and technological advances is cool, but the message behind the events of the attempted acquisition of spice from Arrakis is way cooler. Part of this comes from the native inhabitants of Arrakis, the Fremen. These are people who have lived with the burden of their planet being conquered again and again due to the technological discoveries that have been made with their spice.

‘Dune’ as a film is more about adapting ideas and concepts rather than strict accuracy. Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides in "Dune: Part One" (2021).
Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides in “Dune: Part One” (2021). Image courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

They are outcasts for the most part and live in a way that ties them to the nature of their world and, as such, envelop a highly religious way of living. They are characterized by their unique interactions with the planet of Arrakis as well as their piercing blue eyes, developed through prolonged exposure to the spice sands of their planet. 

As the story develops its own world and culture, it becomes apparent to the audience the parallels between the novel and human history. The novel, in its essence, is often referred to as a mirror of the colonial era of human history that saw indigenous cultures being oppressed and extinguished in many cases for the purpose of facilitating a “New World.” There are other parallels beyond just the contexts of the fictional universe, as the story of Paul Atreides serves to be reminiscent of Jesus’s story and the stories from the Bible. Paul is often seen throughout the story as a Messiah and a chosen one who’s destined to lead those in peril toward paradise. The unique part about this story in the time that it came out is that it explores how Paul ends up being a false Messiah who forcefully takes control of the world around him in the name of leading the Fremen to a greater calling. 

Denis Villeneuve’s Exceptional Interpretation

With his 2021 adaptation film, promptly named Dune, director Denis Villeneuve was able to bring about an exemplary form of cinematic expression. Many have referred to the film as the ideal way of creating any sort of adaptation from other forms of storytelling. What works so well about the film is how it not only is able to masterfully set up the world and its struggles but mainly how it tackles the scale of the events and the importance of the story getting told. Villeneuve is able to find his own way of interpreting the language of the original novel and translate that into a visual medium that feels believable to the audience. It never feels in any way clunky or roughly patched together and instead feels cohesive in its design. Additionally, it has several creative elements, such as clothing, weaponry, infrastructure, architecture, and many more. Nothing ever feels out of place in the film, and it creatively sinks viewers into its universe. 

Denis Villeneuve is the Man

Coming from several highly acclaimed successes in the film realm as a director, Denis Villeneuve was given the chance to tackle his lifelong dream of bringing Frank Herbert’s Dune to the big screen. Time and time again, throughout the first film, Villeneuve proves that he is the man for the job and was meant to tackle that story and universe. This is further supported by the immense success that Dune: Part Two has received since its March 1 release, just a few days ago. Fans are racing towards theaters in order to experience the new film in all its majesty. The success of the film reassures audiences that the integrity of cinema is in good hands. 

Dune: Part Two is now showing at all major movie theaters around the U.S. 

‘Dune’ as a film is more about adapting ideas and concepts rather than strict accuracy. Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides and Zendaya as Chani in "Dune: Part One" (2021).
Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides and Zendaya as Chani in “Dune: Part One” (2021). Image courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

Dune: Part Two (2024) Official Warner Bros Pictures Trailer

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Hi! I am a Dramatic Writing and Performing Arts major at SCAD from Puerto Rico. I have an intense passion for all things film, tv, and music. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and putting it out there is the most important.

Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.