Dune (2021)
October 21, 2021 1:56 PM - Subscribe

Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity's greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
posted by Omon Ra (179 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

oh, wrong Dune, sorry
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:28 PM on October 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really hope they have part two in the can, because this is like the beginning of the story and it looks great.
posted by Catblack at 3:13 PM on October 21, 2021 [10 favorites]

I read somewhere (I don't have the link/remember where?) that they didn't even bother to start filming part 2, to see if part 1 was going to be a hit or a bomb before they wasted the money or not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:01 PM on October 21, 2021

I'm really looking forward to firing this up later tonight. As an appetizer, I enjoyed this story from Farscape's Claudia Black of her connection to a previous version of Dune.
posted by Zonker at 4:15 PM on October 21, 2021 [10 favorites]

Turns out it was totally filmable.
posted by whuppy at 4:50 PM on October 21, 2021 [23 favorites]

Hopefully this erases the 84 Lynch disaster from our cultural memories. Excited to see this one at home and not have to brave the theaters though I will say.
posted by Carillon at 5:55 PM on October 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

My whole family loved this movie, even those who hadn't heard of the books. We haven't come out of a movie theater this energized in a long time!
posted by bakerybob at 6:11 PM on October 21, 2021

I was expecting something kinda-pretty-good but at least pretty, and that was notably better than I was expecting.

I liked how they made things weird enough but not a sort of stupid, self-indulgent weird. There were people in weird clothes, but *mostly* the clothes looked like sort of old-timey ceremonial garb -- like seeing people in academic regalia, and not so much like a movie costume designer fucking around.

And the carryalls with the balloons! Weird, but kinda functional-looking! And how did it take until the third attempt for someone to do ornithopters that aren't really silly but are still ornithopters?

And they seem to be leaning into Dark Paul, jihad Paul, kills tens and tens of billions of people Paul because he's not willing to pay the personal price of going down the Golden Path.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:15 PM on October 21, 2021 [7 favorites]

Good movie. I was grinning and bouncing in my seat like a little kid at the sand worm maws and the desert flowing like ocean.

Only 3 other people in the theater for the first showing, all aging geeks like me. So IDK about audience.

There was one CGI scene I'd rather they had cut, and some dialog was hard to make out over background noise, but it was mostly the mantras I know in my bones.

Yeah, being willing to go there with the full jihad vision.. I wonder how many of the sequels might end up being filmed. If the film doesn't sink into the sand without a trace.
posted by joeyh at 7:35 PM on October 21, 2021

Hopefully this erases the 84 Lynch disaster

It's only a disaster to the purist. I loved it!
posted by Beholder at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2021 [25 favorites]

I avoided the books growing up because the way they were presented by my age cohort made me suspicious of the saviour trope and random usage of Muslim/Arab terms. Of course over the years, the first concern was apparently more of how teenagers would typically engage with the work, and the second was apparently not just cosmetic - just last night I'm reading this, linked from Tor's newsletter: The Muslimness of Dune. (And over the years at this rate I've read/watched enough commentary, and even the SciFi Children of Dune miniseries, I might as well!)

I mention all this because as the first minutes rolled, it struck me I'm in the middle of a mini-era of space operas, since I'm currently avidly following the Foundation series on tv. Now those books I have read (and maybe that's why I considered I had enough of Great Men in space...), and that knowledge increased my appreciation of the adaptation and the choices it made.

With this one, I'm not sure yet. I'm still at that phase I think every Muslim-raised/adjacent person must've had in the first encounter with the story: deep lol? (Look, I'm not from the culture who, if you're raised in a certain way, can anticipate a plot point because you caught the ref, and have it happen as a matter of course or regularly in western content. So when I first heard "lisan al-ghaib", i was like, wow didn't expect my Quranic education to come in handy! Or to chuckle at the coffee-making scene). Yet, I also think a lot of that dimension has been denatured in the film, so you get stuff that's now really cosmetic. And I don't know how to feel about that choice when the same was being done with the homophobia associated with Baron Harkonnen in the books. But! It could also be I didn't catch the internal references. (But it could also be neither did the screenwriters, and that's why. Certainly the backend of the production doesn't leave me well-disposed)

So that's the deep stuff. As a movie though, Villeneuve certainly proved the critics wrong. He and the writing team really have done a heroic job in corralling the story into a narrative that wasn't just filmable but just, so well-done in breaking the story for film. And then of course with the talents on board (please insert what i think a reasonable question of where's the MENA (even Asian side of the muslim world) presence in front of the camera here), it's a remarkable feat of storytelling economy. A lot of wonderful moments, and wonderful unspoken moments as well.
posted by cendawanita at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2021 [19 favorites]

Hopefully this erases the 84 Lynch disaster from our cultural memories.

posted by Saxon Kane at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2021 [8 favorites]

I love that they showed spitting as currency!
posted by porpoise at 9:23 PM on October 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I really appreciated the subtitles with my home-viewing experience. I know the story a bit, but I'd have missed a ton of dialogue without the subtitles.

And I also liked the ability to pause and explain stuff about the Bene Jesserit, and why the mentats, and just what the Sarduakar were that kept being mentioned before we saw them on screen.

Villaneuve really did an amazing interpretation, he packed so much in, and did a great job portraying story beats that I thought would be hard to explain in a compelling, succinct way. (the emperor's political intrigues, the Bene Jesserit schemes, Paul's death cult future visions, etc.)

I'll definitely catch it in the theaters to take in the visual impact when I feel better about the general state of covid, knock wood.
posted by ishmael at 11:47 PM on October 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I debated seeing this is the theater but ended up watching it on HBO, and while I would love to get the full theater experience of the gorgeous cinematography (and a fantastic score!) as mentioned above there is a lot of whispering and mumbling and I had to turn on subtitles to follow everything. I really enjoyed it and I’m only bummed that it’ll probably be a couple years until part 2 given that it hasn’t even been scheduled yet.
posted by cali at 12:07 AM on October 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Watched it in the theater last night and loved it. I'm amazed that Villaneuve has managed to get right what multiple filmmakers have failed at.

I agree with the issues with the sound mix though.
posted by octothorpe at 4:20 AM on October 22, 2021

Odd trivia: In looking back at the SciFi channel adaptation from twenty years ago, I noticed that the director of that, John Harrison is an executive producer on this one.
posted by octothorpe at 4:27 AM on October 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

The sound, omg. The theatre I was in decided to crank the sound ALL the way up. It was literally deafening. The speakers were popping. I had my fingers in my ears for most the film. Could not believe it.

Otherwise, very enjoyable! I love Villaneuve's ship designs. And the callbacks to his other films (the hanging Arrival type ships, the Blade Runner blocky figurines, etc.).

The scene with the strategically placed table corner made me giggle very much, thank you.

It's also stunning how much plot that Star Wars borrowed from Dune, tbh.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:29 AM on October 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I really liked this - doing it as a long movie (hopefully followed by another long movie) gave them the space to show it in terms of political wrangling rather than just straight-up Hero's Journey stuff. Villaneuve has a great way of showing deliberateness in his 'epic' shots where other filmmakers would just do big flashy things.

I watched it at home on a pretty good sound system and was glad I had subtitles on - the main dialogue wasn't bad but all manner of background dialogue got lost, I think.

octothrope: When I see weird production-level overlaps like that, I assume it's something to do with how the filming rights were negotiated.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:47 AM on October 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I saw this last night in IMAX last night and recommend that experience if you can. Partly for the aspect ratio; Villeneuve shot it with IMAX's squarish frame in mind and while it's not essential, it works. Also the sound and color are both fantastic; you'll get that in any theater, not just IMAX, but not at home. In particular there's whole scenes that are shot very dark, like 35% brightness, and they look great in the theater. (Many thanks to Dunepod for the screening.)

It's fair to compare this Dune with Jackson's movie of Fellowship of the Ring. The production quality is that high. And another genre epic, lovingly made and stopped mid-story. The writing for Dune Part I here works, the film ends in a reasonable place and they have plenty of time available for the story for Part II.

I was surprised at how much this production borrowed from the Lynch production. The good parts: the rich production design, the aesthetics of empire. Happily this film fixes the script problems of the Lynch version. And of course it brings its own things in new; the thopters were just fantastic.

If for some reason you want to read even more on my thoughts, I wrote something up on Letterboxd.
posted by Nelson at 6:03 AM on October 22, 2021 [7 favorites]

What I wrote to friends this morning:
The new Dune movie is incredible. It also lives up to the “Star Wars for Goths” meme. It’s not that hot topic emo 2000’s goth, it’s that Bauhaus 80’s deep abyss. It’s the concept art come to life and then colored by an artist with the Restoration Hardware 2010 color palette and vantablack. It will make you want to iron your clothes and look goddamn elegant presentable and go walk in a sand dune. If the sequel doesn’t come out tomorrow I will go immediately into mourning, but that’s ok because everyone in this film is dressed for the most beautiful funeral of all time.

I can’t wait to see it again.
posted by haplesschild at 7:28 AM on October 22, 2021 [32 favorites]

It's been years since I read the books, but did Paul's duel with random Fremen dude happen at all? I liked the world-building and visualization, but that last duel felt like it had been added just so that the hero actually had to overcome and defeat a challenge before the movie ended. I'm not sure I remember what the Fremen guy was so angry about that he demanded a duel to the death (Jessica being a Bene Gesseret witch? Paul and Jessica coming with them?).

Felt very much like a "Part 1" movie - hope we get to see the other parts some day.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:49 AM on October 22, 2021

The duel with Jamis is very much in the book.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2021 [21 favorites]

It's been a while, but that duel was there and there was something left out of the movie, I think. Didn't Jessica ask Paul how it felt to be a killer in order to force him to think?

And, again, been a while, but I thought that Jamis was resentful that Paul had eluded him? or something? That didn't happen in the movie.
posted by bleary at 8:16 AM on October 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I remember 2 things from the fight with Jamis in the book. Paul final move was always slow because he trained to penetrate his opponent's personal shield by moving slowly. Also, because he had never killed anyone, he was delaying the inevitable. This gave some of the Fremen the impression that he was toying with Jamis.
posted by redyaky at 8:34 AM on October 22, 2021 [12 favorites]

In the book Jamis hoped to prove Stilgar was wrong and supplant him as leader; he fought for essentially conservative political reasons. And was a hothead.

"There’s too much of violence in Jamis for him ever to make a good leader—too much ghafla, the distraction. He gives his mouth to the rules and his heart to the sarfa, the turning away. No, he could never make a good leader. I’ve preserved him this long because he’s useful in a fight as such, but when he gets this carving anger on him he’s dangerous to his own society.”

posted by joeyh at 9:21 AM on October 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Jamis duel is super important part of the book; it establishes Paul's legitimacy as one of the Fremen. He mets them in their cultural ways and bests one of their warriors in combat. He's now one of them, as Stilgar says in the movie.

What's not in this movie is the Feyd Rautha duel, or any hint of Feyd at all. There's been a lot of fan chatter about that; gold bikini Sting is such an iconic part of the Lynch film. I think it mostly works, in particular Rabban is plenty Evil Harkonnen minion enough for this movie. I assume Feyd will be in the next book and it's delicious speculation who that might be. My vote is for Tilda Swinton.

Another scene that establishes the Atreides' legitimacy is earlier, the rescue at the Spice Harvester. Leto is willing to risk his and his son's life to save the spice workers and the whole planet duly notes their honor. I'm really glad Villeneuve centered that scene in this film. It's a little odd to me there's no dialog pointing out how important this act of decency is, you just have to sort of accept it, maybe through Kynes' eyes.

The other thing Villeneuve uses the spice harvester scene for is to set up Paul as a mystical hero with his spice hallucination. I don't honestly recall how this works in the book; IIRC the scene is a little less Paul-centric. But it works great in the film: establishes the spice as a psychoactive force, establishes Paul as a mystical leader, and introduces the whole essential-but-hard-to-swallow precognition thing.
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on October 22, 2021 [13 favorites]

There's a lot to like in this version. The scale of the Houses was the first thing that wowed me. The enormity of the spacecraft, the giant open spaces, the rows of soldiers. The 'Thopters was the second thing that wowed me....just fantastic imagining of an iconic vehicle in Dune.
I thought it was interesting that they dwelt so much on Jessica's insecurities. Perhaps prejudiced by other film portrayals, and even though I read the books this year in anticipation, I was taken aback by the depth of her character in this. I never pictured the woman who defied the entire Bene Gesserit order trembling and weeping.

This film definitely emphasizes how the visions and the overwhelming weight of prophesy begin to take over as Paul loses his old sense of self.

I did not love the way the desert was portrayed. It seems that Villenueve was going for something like the planet in Pitch Black -- so bright that it's all a yellowed out haze...but he failed in this IMO. The desert is a character in Dune. This was all so very CG, and, while it was dusty and windblown, it never came across as dangerous, or even hot -- as evidenced by the characters tripping along with their facemasks open and no eye protection. Deserts are not monochrome, even on alien worlds. This was a big fail for me.

I was not expecting it to be a part I, which, I guess is a credit to how much I avoided most discussions before seeing it. It's nice to have a longer retelling, but I will be expecting:
Someone as cool as Sting to play Feyd
Gurney to sing
No Rain

I saw the Lynch film on opening day. I remember being handed a scroll with glossary terms as we entered. That's why I went to see this late last night, and I wasn't disappointed.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:39 AM on October 22, 2021 [7 favorites]

I really enjoyed that. So many little touches that I'm going to have to go back and see again: the shape of the Guild ships echoing the sandworms, the little references to the bull that killed the Old Duke, Isaac gradually showing the strain on Leto. Bring on Part 2!
posted by Zonker at 10:17 AM on October 22, 2021 [5 favorites]

I don't understand why they included a scene with Shadout Mapes, but left out the part where Lady Jessica dresses her down for sheathing a crysknife without blooding it first. It's important in showing Lady Jessica's understanding, I think. The scene as it was just said 'crysknives exist, and here is this person that gets killed in a few scenes'. I'm guessing they shot it, but were dissatisfied with it for some reason.
posted by Quonab at 11:55 AM on October 22, 2021 [12 favorites]

It was a stunning depiction of events but I think much of what I liked in that book wasn't events. The pacing felt so breakneck -- here's some events, here's some other events -- that I had event fatigue but at the same time I felt like nothing happened because all of the thoughts, intrigue, and internal motion was elided. I guess you're supposed to mind read these people based on their facial expressions or something?
posted by yonega at 12:08 PM on October 22, 2021 [5 favorites]

Apologies for the wall of text.

The Alan Smithee television cut of Lynch's 'Dune' will always be "my" version (aside from the book, which I sought out immediately after I saw the tv movie) so I can't help but compare against that.

On it's own, this is a very competently done movie. I liked the first half a lot better than the second half which felt rushed despite a ~140 minute runtime.

I would argue that it does borrow visually from Lynch's, which is fine as it chose my favourite elements; the far flung future Baroque, and implements it better. It's believably alien yet has ties to feudal humanity (which sadly appears to be how humans are hardwired - qv oligarchs and billionaires).

Though I like Lynch's stillsuit and the weathering effects better than the stillsuits here. Also - no goggles?

This looks like a Villeneuve movie, which is no bad thing, but maybe too soon after Blade Runner 2049.

I do love the clothing, even if some of it is mall-ninja Apple-store and much to 2020's in terms of materials (esp. the armour). I do want to point out the high-heeled geta.

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya are both impressive. No matter how much I liked MacLachlan as Paul, these two surpass him and Sean Young.

I was concerned about Rebeca Ferguson as Jessica, but enjoyed her interpretation over Francesca Annis' reserved opaque abyssal depths. I'm ok with Momoa as Duncan, especially given Duncan's characterization much (much) later in the books. Richard Jordan made 100% sense at the time. I'm growing fond of a mature Josh Brolin, but Patrick Stewart 4eva.

Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Kynes is ok. I got the feeling that Max von Sydow was cast to ego boost Frank Herbert, and he was impressive as always and brought gravitas. Javier Bardem easily trumps Everett McGill as Stilgar. Kudos for casting a E. Asian person for Yueh, but why does he as an imperial have an accent? And a stereotyped E. Asian one at that?

10,000 yers in the future - I like the subtle dig that the Houses might have completely fabricated their history (Atreides being descendants of Agamemnon (?), at least allegorically by having Greek looks, alluded to in the books) by tossing a bagpipe player in there. Another is that 'thopter controls are analogue/ physical, very much so. I hate the idea of touch-displays as interfaces for (esp. combat) vehicles.

Ornithopter - very close to what I envisioned from the books, but the design is crap. Especially in a gritty (literally) desert environment. Helicopter service lives are completely shot in desert environments, these ornis would flap themselves into metal filings.

Shields - as much as the Lynch version was constrained by computing, I don't like these skin-contoured shields. EM fields are governed by inverse cube. I'm conflicted over the colour slow/ fast colour change.

Crysknife - I was surprised at how much flex the prop had when the Shadout Mapes presented one to Jessica, which is a neat detail if intended (made from the organic tooth of a worm, "may thy knife chip and shatter"). It and the primary Atreides sidearm are about the dimensions of a gladius - I approve.

Mentats - no ruby stained lips? Bah. Crimson lips would have clashed with the colour palette, but. Instead we got that eye thing. Not in the text, but I'd imagine that the hyperstimulant sapho, by overclocking brains, would cause cranofacial rubor and/ or an episode of skull sweating/ flopsweat.

Also, no general sweating, or obvious indoor air-cooling/ HVAC equipment, massive outdoor heat exchange infrastructure.

"It's a Fremkit!" was outstandingly terrible. I did not like the transition of Paul and Jessica to Fremen, it felt way too easy and tasted of white saviour, which to be fair doesn't really get examined until after the first book.

I know time is scarce, but I wish the movie showed more of the townies'/ villagers' plights. Begging for used hand towels to wring moisture from, in contrast to the tropical greenhouse, etc.
posted by porpoise at 6:43 PM on October 22, 2021 [8 favorites]

I loved it. I have my complaints, but they’re minor. Above all, I think the casting was top-notch. (Though, I wouldn’t have minded a pug presence in this telling.)

A little, little thing I especially liked was the Atreides salute. I found it oddly stirring.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:43 PM on October 22, 2021 [7 favorites]

Kudos for casting a E. Asian person for Yueh, but why does he as an imperial have an accent? And a stereotyped E. Asian one at that?

From glancing at a couple of interviews, that appears to just be the actor Chen Chang's accent when speaking English.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:52 PM on October 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

It's been a really long time since I watched the Lynch version or read the book, so there are bits and pieces of the timeline that I have to remind myself happen _much later_ in the story. But yeah, I enjoyed it, I think it was well done, I sort of hope that the last mmmm 15 years of pop culture media has accepted that sometimes you can tell a story without having to explain everything - the people in the audience that care will go and find out, and most of the rest of the audience will just go "eh ok fine".

I mean, I think there was maybe a little less time given to the various Atreides House retainers? But, like I said, I can't remember how much of what I remember actually happens in the last third of book, y'know?

(My big dumb problem is that Zendaya is just So Very Mary Jane, I kept wondering if Tom Holland would pop out from behind a rock in a stilsuit...)
posted by Kyol at 8:31 PM on October 22, 2021

iamkimiam theatre I was in decided to crank the sound ALL the way up

Not 'Dune' but I saw 'Venom' recently after not having seen a movie in a theater since BR2049. Good grief! It was deafening.

I think it might have to do with sound system "certification" from various studios. 'Venom' was presented in (at least 2) different rooms with different certifications. I don't go to movies enough even guess at the difference. Maybe certain sound systems are tuned for dialogue vs explosions and vice versa? Producers probably mandate decibel intensity as part of their distribution deals, and continuing data analysis are driving that LOUDER = MOAR$$
posted by porpoise at 10:16 PM on October 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I had hoped for a movie that was beautiful, even if it wasn't coherent/great (like BladeRunner redux - trim 45 min off that at it could be fantastic) - I watched the Lynch version (almost 40!! years old!! (I remember seeing it in the theater!) ack!) again a couple months ago and was struck at how not-great it was: Kinda kitschy kinda camp, but not enough to make it out of its own mess. This version was tight, lovely, really, not just in how it looked but also in the story-telling - this time it was (for me) much clearer why the emperor sent Atreides etc etc etc. And what a tough, human spot the doctor was in.

Villeneuve's films are all pretty great but this one was everything I hoped BR2046 would be. Gorgeous, compelling story. (The production design is ... remarkable - I was thinking about the Star Wars movies and the difference here between these two: and in Dune the Pomp is much more realistic, somehow - it's a bunch of craziness that goes on around the characters, not a thing that sweeps up the characters and takes them with it. And design struck me the same way - it's what the people wore, where they lived -and there was what they did, as people...)

Never read the books - still on the fence about it - lovely, lovely movie though. If the next could be as smart and beautiful, that would be a hell of a feat. (And I had a similar thought about the desert not seeming hot enough - I'm not a desert expert, but I've been in Texas in August and... the heat is a malevolent force, I missed that here - people doing anything and everything possible to keep it at bay.)
posted by From Bklyn at 5:19 AM on October 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

The ships and vehicles looked really nice. There were a few gorgeous moments.

One of them was NOT the aerial view of Dunetown which looked like nothing, like somebody copied and pasted one bunker a thousand times and made something about as interesting looking as porridge on a recycled paper plate.

I think I should have realized that scifi!Villeneuve would be a better fit for Dune as opposed to Arrival or BR:2049. The latter two are kind of about humanity and humanness and would benefit from portraying believable humans IMHO. But Dune is much more a story where you can arrange pretty dollies on pretty sets, and that's enough.

I really just don't like Chalamet at all. Boy's got no charasma. I also feel like Villeneuve forgot to tell Rebecca Ferguson to not show emotion. She was going all out. Maybe too far. But she's a good actor and Jessica is I think the only interesting character in the story, so fine.

The shield-fighting aspect of the shield-fighting did not look good or work well, it just looked like normal fighting, it just seemed random whether anything would have a blue or red flash on it. It was sort of okay to have my eye drawn towards "important" touches in a Scott Pilgrimmy kind of way but it seemed mostly distracting.

One weird thing about both Dune movies is how significant Chani is made to seem vs. how irrelevant Chani actually is, I mean I know this is a muad'dibildungsroman and there's thresholds to be crossed, but it just feels like basic-ass portentousness.
posted by fleacircus at 6:00 AM on October 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

I haven’t read the books, and found the 80s film basically inscrutable. This looked great and made the story and the motivations comprehensible.

The comments here about the sound are interesting. The sound design really impressed me. I saw it in a theater, and it was loud but effectively so. The Voice was initially shocking and always impressive. The bass-y ship sounds reinforced their visual massiveness. The score is bonkers in a good way. I watch everything with subtitles, and I didn’t miss them in the theater.

I was pleasantly surprised by how good this was.
posted by jeoc at 6:04 AM on October 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

How Hans Zimmer Conjured the Otherworldly Sounds of ‘Dune’

The 30 bagpipers in a church with hearing protection at 130 decibels! That was amoung my favorite parts of the score. The "sacred musical laboratory" of the singer's closet! The guy in a barn scraping on saw blades and cryogenic tanks!
posted by joeyh at 6:21 AM on October 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

I also feel like Villeneuve forgot to tell Rebecca Ferguson to not show emotion. She was going all out.

Based on this VF Notes on a Scene, oh, that was deliberate. I don't know how to feel about it exactly, but by now I have the Arrival, BR2049, and this one to have an idea of his preference on female characters and their expressions, imo.
posted by cendawanita at 6:40 AM on October 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Great job showing sand liquefaction and making the sandworm locomotion looks sort of, almost plausible.

penetrate his opponent's personal shield by moving slowly

They sort of threw this out the window when Aquaman was slaughtering the Monster Energy Drink commandos.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:21 AM on October 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

I thought this was excellent, way better than I expected. I have enjoyed all the previous dune adaptations, but mostly on the level of world building - this one I actually cared a bit more about the characters. Honestly that may be somewhat true of even the book, this did a good job of humanizing them somewhat.

The sound and music was fantastic enough that it actually made me kind of angry - the music is by Hans Zimmer in the way the film is by Villeneuve, he has a whole bunch of people working with him and they deserve explicit credit just as much as say, Hat Designer. One of Zimmer’s team, Andy Page, used to be a dance music producer, and is a phenomenally gifted synth wizard, I felt like some of the music elements had touches of his sounds.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:30 PM on October 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

As a huge Dune nerd, what really impressed me about this is that every time I started getting the urge to launch into an explanation of something for the folks watching it with me, the movie more-or-less immediately explained the thing.

I will be very sad if they don't film the other half.
posted by jordemort at 3:18 PM on October 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

It’s been a long time since I read the book but iirc there was something about “the Duke wanted a son!” as Jessica’s justification for defying orders. I was glad that wasn’t included here and it was her ego driving that decision instead.
posted by cali at 6:16 PM on October 23, 2021 [11 favorites]

As a huge Dune nerd, what really impressed me about this is that every time I started getting the urge to launch into an explanation of something for the folks watching it with me, the movie more-or-less immediately explained the thing.
I had exactly the same experience. This film was SO tightly constructed, especially given the bewildering amount of lore it had to carry.
posted by simonw at 9:32 PM on October 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Wow! I mean I loved it and really hope there's a part 2. What a film. I usually tap out of long movies and either have to come back or start dicking around on my phone after the 90 minute mark, but was rapt the whole way through, and could have kept going (a rarity).
posted by Carillon at 12:42 AM on October 24, 2021

I’ll add my voice to having profoundly enjoyed the film, which is possibly unfortunate as that mostly called to mind all the ways I thought it could be slightly improved.

I guess to start with highlights: I very much enjoyed the casting, and in general the visuals were excellent. I especially liked the way the Sardukar were envisioned, especially with that weird crucifixion ritual. The film made the Dune universe look significantly more casually brutal than Lynch did, if that’s possible given his Harkonnen. Jessica and Paul’s hand signals also get a special mention as being especially cool, and if anything I wish we had more of them from the Atreides.

I think the film suffered slightly from trying to be the Anti-Lynch. While constant voice over isn’t everyone’s cup of tea I definitely found myself missing it, especially in the scene with the Hunter Killer. Given that they didn’t want to have any VO I was hoping for perhaps a little more dialog which would convey everyone’s thoughts on what had just happened, but perhaps that’s a matter of taste.

Weirdly the most jarring part was any character attempting more naturalistic acting. I thought Idaho had some great moments, but when we went from the epic, formal scenes to his character building it felt fairly jarring. Similarly, the weirder everything gets the more American accents jump out at me. Just my cultural bias, I know.

Here’s hoping for part 2! I’m super curious as to whether they’re going to include Harah, among many other things.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 5:28 AM on October 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

going to include Harah

Yeah! It was a source of conflict in the books between Paul's youngness, Chani (who is only half ethnically Fremen, which I'm guessing they're going to drop?), and conservative Fremen culture.

Also, missing Harah's kids (one by Jamis, the other from before). But perhaps all best left for part 2.

I'm going to have to keep an eye out on the rewatch(s), but I didn't get the impression that the Bene Gesserit had been running infiltration ops and implanting the idea of an offworld saviour into Fremen culture for hundreds of years? There was a very brief scene with the locals calling out "Mahdi." There's the mention of Sayyadina, but not that they/ specific ideas associated with them were BG plants, aside from maybe Mapes presenting the crysknife to Jessica (and as Quonab mentions, that Jessica as BG should have know about Fremen culture [blooded unsheathed crysknives] and that they've been primed to "respect" BG).

This is a bigger issue for part 2, so I'm not too bothered, but if they don't explicitly address it (perhaps by Paul finding out about it firsthand?) then it's going to stink up the Mahdi/ Kwisatz Haderach thing (because the concept of this specific kind of Mahdi is dirty pool). I guess this was the biggest issue with the unbelievability of how easily Jessica and Paul got accepted into Fremen culture regardless of being anti-Harkonnen (they are just another imperial colonizer after all, aside from rescuing that harvester) and pure fighting ability.

Also, windtraps. Given how well the movie did for the vastness of space, I want to see their take on windtraps and secret troves of water. And the whole ecological engineering thing, which is a big chunk of the original DNA for 'Dune.'

The brief Caladan scenes did a great job of depicting a waterworld; whereas Lynch went for massive storms, Villeneuve went for the Pacific North West dampness which makes more sense for a habitable world and contrasts more strongly with the marginality of Arakis as habitable.
posted by porpoise at 9:52 AM on October 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

Porpoise I think yes, the BG absolutely had been planting these seeds for generations, not just on Arrakis, but on any world worth their attention. In the books, Jessica is keenly aware of this, and takes advantage to have them be easily accepted; but also can see what it will make her son, she knows she is helpless in the face of it and therefore surprised by some of Paul's decisions. There is an enormity to the place into which the BG cannot see, despite the fact that they felt they were in control of creating the Kwisatz Haderach.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:50 AM on October 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

OHenryPacey - I know about the BG activities, I was expressing that the film didn't effectively convey those activities to me on initial viewing, and that I need to keep an eye out for whether the film did or not.

As for the place that they cannot see, totally agree; with so much pan-nicience, the frustration of being denied access to something could easily power paranoia, especially with the BG playing so much dirty pool that they fall victim to accusations in a mirror, and maybe even inadvertently push "the opposition" to do harm to them (the BG).
posted by porpoise at 12:58 PM on October 24, 2021

For what it's worth, I came to this completely blank (haven't read the book(s), haven't seen any prior adaptations), and I definitely thought the film made clear that the Bene Gesserit had been laying the groundwork for their weird chosen one among the Fremen. In fact, I thought the general plot and motivations were surprisingly lucid, for all I'd heard about the density of the book. I'm sure there were a million things left out, but what made it to screen was totally legible for me.

It was too loud and too long for my tastes, but the visuals were stunning. I didn't really connect with any of the characters though, so it didn't move me much. Still, even as not a huge fan of this installment, I hope it does well enough that they make the second part. I want to see the Fremen cave villages!
posted by the primroses were over at 1:33 PM on October 24, 2021 [11 favorites]

I LOVED that, first film in years where I’ve left the cinema buzzing. It was a very Denis Villeneuve film I thought, although I could definitely cope with that and thought he was well-suited to the material and it does feel like he’s been preparing for it. Clear stylistic callbacks to his other films - not just BR2049 (colours, pyramid buildings, general slow scifi epic adapted from famous source material thing) but also Arrival (ships) and Sicario (desert landscapes, booming sinister music over lingering landscape shots). My friend also pointed out that the Baron Harkonnen frequently looked a lot like Kurtz In Apocalypse Now, for some reason?

I went in without having enjoyed the trailers very much at all, so I had happily low expectations that the movie just... exploded past. I also know the book basically by heart - misspent early adolescence - so spoilers weren’t an issue and I could mostly just relax and see where and how they had restitched the material to make it work for film.

I wasn’t totally sold on all of the casting and performances, and the Jason Momoa X-Wing sequence would have been better left on Tatooine. I also felt like they could have cut the run time a lot by using fewer slow motion sequences, which tied into my feeling that it was maybe a little too serious overall and could have done with some lighter beats - Jason Momoa was supposed to provide them but much as I like him, he was high on my list of “casting that didnt quite work for me”. Also, as leaden as the dialogue is in the books, I felt that the times they used original dialogue was broadly better than their new dialogue.

I liked the use of editing to show how the Voice worked, especially with the Reverend Mother. I liked how much time they spent on the pageantry - War bagpipes! Terrifying throat singing during a human sacrifice ceremony! - and details like the Harkonnen human spider experiment (brr) that all fit with Villeneuve’s insistence of filming absolutely all his movies like they’re horror movies. The baddies were genuinely horrifying, but in a sort of weird unfamiliar way and didnt slip to far into being panto villains. I liked the big empty architectural spaces, the general emptiness of the universe (Dr Evil finger: “one MILLION Fremen!!”) and the ecological station where they retreated to, which seemed to me to be styled directly after Mexico City’s Anthropology Museum.

I also could have done with more insight into how the characters felt and what they were thinking, and could quibble with some of what they took out / left in, but otherwise thought it was a massive achievement to make the book seem like it was destined for the screen, which it totally wasn’t - combat and ornithopters alone make it difficult, let alone the structure and long digressions into politics and ecology.

They took a lot of the weird sex subtext out that was present in the book, although I got a very weird quasi-incestuous vibe from the treatment of Paul and Jessica’s relationship - it was often his mother’s voice intruding into dreams that he heard as Chani, theirs was the only relationship shown with any emotional depth, and the forehead-to-forehead moment they share at the close is the kind of thing that other movies have conditioned me to expect from romantic leads.

Doing it as a long movie (hopefully followed by another long movie) gave them the space to show it in terms of political wrangling rather than just straight-up Hero's Journey stuff. Villaneuve has a great way of showing deliberateness in his 'epic' shots where other filmmakers would just do big flashy things.

This had ultimately been my big fear, and what I loved about it so much. The universe was shown at an epic scale, with epic stakes, but that didn’t translate into epic battles, and the switch between unimaginably grand conflicts and individual, human-level conflicts were handled really well - that’s one thing that the books get very right, balancing the two sides of what the social sciences call the “structure vs agency debate”. History rolls forwards with a sense of inevitability, but small actions at key moments add up to big changes, and those actions depend on people and their existing relationships.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:47 PM on October 24, 2021 [10 favorites]

(I also saw this a few days after The Green Knight, which just got a release where I am, and while watching TGK had been thinking how well suited Dev Patel would have been to the Paul role, and how well the witchcraft and generally uncanniness of TGK would have slotted into the Dune universe.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:54 PM on October 24, 2021 [6 favorites]

My friend also pointed out that the Baron Harkonnen frequently looked a lot like Kurtz In Apocalypse Now, for some reason?

I noticed that too, and a couple of reviews have noted it as well. I can't imagine it's not a deliberate choice, most especially the scene where he emerges from a pool of liquid. Both Paul and the Baron both make regular nods to filmic colonizers, Lawrence of Arabia and Kurtz, which is pretty apt.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:41 PM on October 24, 2021 [11 favorites]

I loved this with only a couple of quibbles, the biggest being that I agree with OHenryPacey that the desert's brutality wasn't emphasized nearly enough. If you would die in 2 hours without a stillsuit then there's more to it than crunching footsteps and ducking inside when the wind picks up, which is basically what it felt like in the movie.

The other quibble was that I found the music annoyingly intrusive a couple of times.

I liked Oscar Isaac as Leto and I *really* liked how Jessica was portrayed because I remember thinking she was really weak in the book and, imo, they didn't skim over that in the movie.

I still think it's weird to expect your underage son to take over planning and flying in an emergency but I suppose that happens when there are strict rules about who learns what.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:43 PM on October 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

The bombs felt unsettlingly realistic. I've gotten used to war scenes in movies and they're very tedious to me, but these kept my attention. I didn't find the soldier-to-soldier battle scenes nearly so compelling, but to the film's credit, they didn't spend a lot of time on those.

I was also surprised by how little Zendaya there was in this movie. That said, I loved that the main relationship here was between Jessica and Paul. They have their own language! They fight for each other! Chosen One stuff is a little ugh for me -- I know they're doing something with it, but still -- and it's far more tolerable when the Chosen One is constantly being assigned homework by his preternaturally lovely mother.
posted by grandiloquiet at 5:51 PM on October 24, 2021

I'm very lukewarm on Chalamet, his Paul feels like he lacks any seriousness to me, I don't know. I also wasn't too happy with how passive Jessica was presented to be, I feel like her character is much more complex than it was reduced to in this movie. I could quibble with this or that being left in or taken out, but overall it was better than I expected, a solid 3.5/5. I enjoyed it visually, and I think Villeneuve did a solid job of explaining things without over-explaining. I do feel that Yueh's betrayal would have been surprising to the viewer if there had been any explanation of Imperial Conditioning, but you can't really have everything in 2.5 hours. I hope that part 2 gets made, it would be interesting to see how Paul's growth and development is handled, as well as Jessica and Aaliyah.
posted by wintermind at 6:06 PM on October 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is one of those discussions that I wish were threaded - I certainly agree with you wintermind regarding Jessica, which is to say that I feel that while she absolutely could have been an emotional wreck for the events of the movie, her Bene Gesserit training would have kept her from showing it. I loved the scene where she was crying in the hallway and made it disappear as she passed through a door, but I wish that was the only time she cried.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 6:18 PM on October 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yes! re: BG training

This is definitely non-cannon Jessica, but I feel that her acting out (for the film audience) is a substitute for a voice over or reality/ internal flash in/ out that has been used in film to signify the distinction.
posted by porpoise at 6:26 PM on October 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Very well filmed, but didn’t care about any of the characters. The foreign messiah for the natives trope hung over the film and not in a good way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 PM on October 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think I've got the most nits to pick out of this entire thread, so here goes. I write all of this as someone who's only barely read the first book, whose memories of it are half-formed from early high school (I completely forgot about the Weirding Way voice, that's how lacking I am as a fan).

The film is a shadow of the masterpiece it could be. My main problem is that it was far more conventional than it could have been. For ages, Dune has been a property associated with the likes of Jodorowsky, Dali, Lynch. And what we get from Villeneuve is fine- cyclopean grandeur, Promethean starship (and villain) design, and a ton of visual imagery that's basically a best hits from the director's prior work. Stone oval ships, starships falling, even a city on fire reminiscent of Juarez after the mob boss is arrested. So much of it looks familiar. It also looks rather- Christopher Nolan. Grayscale austere scenery populated by po-faced characters.

And such small portions! The Fellowship of the Ring ran a solid two minutes shy of three hours. Wish they could have stretched out this one with a few more character-establishing scenes, let alone world-building. Leto and Jessica's conversation takes place five minutes before the fall of the Atredies. Couldn't they have had explored Arrakis and the space courtly life for a few minutes more before they throw it all asunder with action? The pacing was great for a 2.5 hour movie, maybe a couple more conversations wouldn't have hurt? Despite Jason Momoa's magnetic performance and berserker glee, does Duncan Idaho ever become more than a stock character?

And for all of Villeneuve's directorial chops, I was struck by how the cinematography was oddly lacking at some points- too many scenes shot through hot tub haze, smoke, cloud, or just dusk dim light. They looked muddled or incoherent without being evocative. The Atredies vs. Sardaukar fight, despite some great setup complete with battle poses, were also confusing and often too draped in darkness to follow.

I think the film could have handled the visual design of the fantastical better. A lot of the scenes felt a little too special effects- not just CGI, but funnily enough like apparent practical effects. The ornithopter in the Coriolis sandstorm looked like a model toy. The design of the city, as nicely as it evoked retro '70s sci-fi contours of Battlestar Galactica or Space: 1999, looked like lifeless sandy ruins- or a model city. The first sandstorm encounter was too much CGI- it didn't have a decent handling of scale. The second one, with the rock mouse setting the scene, I found to be much better because of that scale. Sadly without details like that, the vast expanses of sand often look unreal, but in a more boringly monotonous rather than dazzlingly surreal way.

I also don't get what's with depicting the visions as photorealistic and indistinguishable from actual scenes happening in the movie. Isn't it going to be cheesy when those scenes happen later on and look like the movie repeating its own footage? And wasn't a fan of the haunting whispers effect clashing with the already captions-required quiet dialogue.

As far as the music goes, Hans Zimmer continues to disappoint. The score on this one was loud and bombastic but about as forgettable and unremarkable as his work in No Time to Die. The man is simply incapable of producing memorable melodies any longer, and can't even be bothered to recycle the ones from Gladiator, as he did with Pirates of the Caribbean, to great success.

Overall: still 8/10. A good film but not a great one. Which is more of the pity, because while this is a very competent and well-produced film, I wouldn't think of it as a classic epic adaptation akin to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For all of its gleaming edifice, it feels a little hollow.

Please make the second part. And then let this and Apple TV+'s Foundation birth a new neofeudal space trend so we get Hyperion adapted as well.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:00 PM on October 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

There is one moment that I liked that I didn't notice when I saw the movie the first time.

For some reason I didn't register that the movie was showing that Paul's visions are of potential futures, and not, as I thought, predictions requiring interpretation.

And so at the end when he kills Jamis, I think part of the reason he was hesitating was because he didn't want to lose that relationship.

I don't like the idea of Jamis being fridged for Paul's personal growth, but I did like the moment itself, where a relationship flashes before a character's eyes before he loses it again in an instant, and then having to deal with the grief of a lost loved one while committing to a sense of duty. So much is lost in that moment.
posted by ishmael at 12:26 AM on October 25, 2021 [25 favorites]

For some reason I didn't register that the movie was showing that Paul's visions are of potential futures, and not, as I thought, predictions requiring interpretation.

The “potential futures” thing is very true to the source material, and it occurred to me that this gives the filmmakers considerable in-universe latitude to depart from original plot lines or details, if they want to - they actually could have decided to have Jamis as a friend and mentor of Paul; they could really do whatever they feel like. Have Paul follow one of the plotlines gestured at in the book, or something totally new.
He had seen two main branchings along the way ahead – in one he confronted an evil old Baron and said: ‘Hello, Grandfather.’ The thought of that path and what lay along it sickened him.

The other path held long patches of gray obscurity except for peaks of violence. He had seen a warrior religion there, a fire spreading across the universe with the Atreides green and black banner waving at the head of fanatic legions drunk on spice liquor.
Lots to of directions to go in! Even showing a small departure from the plot of the books could be quite effective, like... how does Paul end up with the name Muad’Dib? If that came from some unexpected source (rather than Paul choosing it for himself) it could startle both Paul and the audience, in a way that nevertheless would feel true to Paul’s predictive abilities and their limitations.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 2:00 AM on October 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

My friend also pointed out that the Baron Harkonnen frequently looked a lot like Kurtz In Apocalypse Now, for some reason?

I would expect that Heart of Darkness was an influence on Frank Herbert when writing Dune.
posted by octothorpe at 4:47 AM on October 25, 2021

Did anyone else have Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck switched in their heads? I had read Gurney as the boisterous one and Duncan as the serious one.

One element that I hope gets emphasized more in the second movie was how the emperor's actual motivation wasn't Duke Leto's increasing popularity in the Landsraad, but the fear that the Duke was going to make the Fremen into a fighting force to rival the Sardaukar. It created another layer of deceit between the Imperium and the Harkonnen, and highlighted how Emperor saw democracy as secondary to military power.

An interesting series of essays on the "Fremen Mirage" about "hard times creating hard men" has been covered previously on the blue.

As someone who grew up reading every one of the books (everyone.gary.oldman.gif) this was a phenomenal adaption. If it's not LOTR quality, you can see it from here.
posted by LegallyBread at 6:05 AM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

In both the film and the novel, little Paul is up to his neck in father surrogates. There’s his father, Gurney Halleck, Duncan Idaho, and Stilgar. Why is that? What’s going on thematically there?
posted by chrchr at 7:09 AM on October 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

After sleeping on it, what strike's me most about this movie adaptation is how old it feels. It's clearly a product from the '60s and feels heavily self involved with itself. I had said none of the characters were interesting, but on reflection, I think Leto was pretty fascinating, as a seemingly caring, but politically savy ruler of his house. How did he get like, what in his background shaped him to be that? I'd love the story.

The political intrigue of the houses and the Emperor also sounded interesting, but that's difficult to explore in a movie, a tv series could have handled it better. That could be downright fabulous.

But Paul? An astounding flat character, at least in this movie. I get that there's supposed to be sequels, but there's not enough there to hold my interest. I only watched it because it was HBO Max for free, had no interest in going to a theatre for it.

FYI, never read the books.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 AM on October 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

In both the film and the novel, little Paul is up to his neck in father surrogates.

I liked my friend's take on it
DUNE (2021) is the story of a pensive Space Twink that has no fewer than three (3) Space Daddies of various degrees of grizzledness and how he loses them one by one.
My reading is that this is a son-of-the-Duke thing. He's got various teachers whose job it is to make him into a man fit to take over the Dukedom and each has a skill he teaches Paul. Very feudal. Then also the wildcard, that his mother has been teaching him witchy woman's magic.

The weirder thing is Paul has no friends his own age. Most modern stories like this have a buddy character, often a stand-in for us, the reader. It seems important that Paul does not have one growing up.
posted by Nelson at 8:41 AM on October 25, 2021 [13 favorites]

I reread the book a couple months ago in preparation to see the film. I have probably read it a half dozen times over the years.

I really enjoyed the film. My sister who came along and has not read the book was fine with it, but far less enthused. She also was bothered more by the sound design. On sound design, I think our theater had the volume cranked too loud for the number of attendees at our noon matinee. Bodies in seats make a huge acoustic difference and when a theater is only 10-15% full I wish they would compensate for that, but I don't think they do.

I also feel like Villeneuve forgot to tell Rebecca Ferguson to not show emotion. She was going all out.

This also threw me at first, but I quickly got used to it. And they came back to show how dangerous she was through use of the voice and the 'weirding way' of fighting. I actually appreciate it. On the re-read of the novel I was really struck by the degree that the main beats are structured around what Jessica does for love rather than power or politics.
posted by meinvt at 9:09 AM on October 25, 2021 [8 favorites]

I too am a huge Dune nerd and have read the book(s) several times. The Villeneuve film captures a good portion of the essence although not as much as Jackson did with Lord of the Rings. Here are some touches I liked:

Holtzman shields: I always visualized them as farther out from the body and more ellipsoid. But I liked what Villeneuve did with them: Just a couple inches out and shaped to body contour. The blue sparks as fast-moving objects are repelled and the red sparks indicating entry was an excellent touch even if not in the book. Ditto the bumblebee-needle weapon which slows down as it gradually penetrates the shield.

The Voice: Not bad. It’s rumbly, dreamlike, and gives the impression of happening more in your head than via sound waves.

The gom jabbar/nerve induction pain box. Good, although I think the box was a tad too shallow.

Caladan: Well imagined. Rain on the skylight, lakes, green trees.

Timothée Chalamet: I was prepared to dislike him but, good job. One would expect him to capture Paul’s boyness. But he also was able to show us the maturity within that boyishness.

Ornithopters, thumper, stillsuits, tent, static compaction tool. All good although I imagined the stillsuits as less rigid and more like wetsuits.
posted by mono blanco at 9:17 AM on October 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

The foreign messiah for the natives trope hung over the film and not in a good way.
FYI, never read the books.

In the books, where he leads the Fremen is to their own cultural genocide. The book doesn't have the movie's introduction from Chani; that's Villeneuve's doing. It's unlikely that it just *accidentally* ends with "Who will our next oppressors be?"
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:54 AM on October 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

I really enjoyed it - never read the book but absorbed a lot of the meta-plot by cultural osmosis. The sound mix was often not great - if I didn't already know the Litany Against Fear I might not have really got what was being said. The music was great though, and I loved the visual design.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:55 AM on October 25, 2021

One touch I liked - when Dr Kynes is stabbed, water gushes out of the wound (from the stillsuit) rather than blood.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:56 AM on October 25, 2021 [16 favorites]

watched this last night. I was extremely impressed. I felt like I was watching a new epic classic emerge, on the scale of the original Star Wars.

great writing and acting, gorgeous costumes, the special effects were great esp the sand worms. beautiful art direction all around, I can't wait for the next one!
posted by supermedusa at 10:09 AM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

and the ornithopters were the coolest thing EVAR!!! I need one.
posted by supermedusa at 10:11 AM on October 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

haplesschild we may be soulmates...

The new Dune movie is incredible. It also lives up to the “Star Wars for Goths” meme. It’s not that hot topic emo 2000’s goth, it’s that Bauhaus 80’s deep abyss. It’s the concept art come to life and then colored by an artist with the Restoration Hardware 2010 color palette and vantablack. It will make you want to iron your clothes and look goddamn elegant presentable and go walk in a sand dune. If the sequel doesn’t come out tomorrow I will go immediately into mourning, but that’s ok because everyone in this film is dressed for the most beautiful funeral of all time.
posted by supermedusa at 10:18 AM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

To reiterate two points from my rant:

1. The movie's biggest flaw has to be the scenes that are filmed in low light, through smoke or cloud lenses, in murk. The whole ending sequence in dim dusk was difficult to see and seemed amateurish in the way modern big-budget blockbusters can spend lavish amounts of money on production and then have an entire scene that is difficult to see.

2. They mention the sandworm tooth dagger like three different times and never do anything with the concept. I guess the payoff is that Chani lends Paul hers at the end so he could use it in the duel and become a Fremen. But then what was the point of that only Bechdel test passing conversation between Jessica and the housekeeper she hires? She never ends up doing anything with the knife she is given, it doesn't become a survival tool in the desert or anything.

This is why I think the movie could have stood to have a few more scenes to flesh out the world in an organic way, and develop characterization. Movie feels oddly rushed despite some scenes that have plodding pace.

I still stand by an 8/10, but in some ways this film is more of a disappointment than if it was bad, because it's so close to being legendary and for the ages and is instead merely very very good.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

To answer the question about the crysknife given to Jessica by the Shadout Mapes:

It is not referenced again in the books after it is given to Jessica. Essentially, when the Harkonnen attack and Yueh arranges for Jessica and Paul to be flown out in to the desert, it is left behind where ever Jessica was keeping it in the bunker. It could still be there for all anyone knows, but it is not referenced again so is considered just "lost".

It's actually something discussed for years on various Dune internet forums (just google search "crysknife" and "Jessica" and you will have a litany of posts asking this very question).

There's no way for Yueh to know about the crysknife, so he would not have known to pack it with the survival gear he stashed for them.
posted by daq at 5:52 PM on October 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

re: Rebecca Ferguson cast as Jessica

Ah, after starting to watch 'The White Queen' - I'm getting the suspicion that Ferguson was cast as Jessica specifically because of her performance in TWQ as a reimaging/ alternate interpretation of Jessica.

In TWQ, Ferguson's character is criticized in-show specifically for her lack of ("appropriate") emotional suppression, and the character becomes quite ruthless (albeit as self protection/ protection of her children/ blood-family), and even has "magic" powers.

In my mind, I see bookJessica as reserved and in complete (outward) control. 1984Jessica hews close to that whereas 2021Jessica wears her heart on her sleeve instead of suppressing her feelings with BG prana bindu training (which we see 1984Jessica exercising).

I guess it's a compromise for the not doing any voiceovers/ internal monologue decision - because bookJessica has lots of internal turmoil that she strives not to display.

n-thing that 2021Jessica choosing the spermatozoa to birth a boy-child has more to do with her ego (a shot at making the KH) than that "Leto wanted a son" (which I always read as a cop-out excuse in the books, and that she really did think she could make the KH - or something close[r]) is a great writing change decision.

X/ Y chromosome selection (of which sperm to allow in) isn't a huge stretch, but I wonder if BG technology extends to in vivo/ utero genetic sequence detection/ controlling genetic recombination during ovum fertilization. Or releasing multiple ova and then selecting from the ones fertilized to maintain?
posted by porpoise at 8:12 PM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

For those who had issues with the sound:

I watched this with friends and family in our living room on an average sized TV and the sound was terrible. Constantly had to turn the volume up for the whispered parts and then way down for the overly bombastic soundtrack.

This evening I did a partial rewatch on my laptop with earbuds and the sounds problems just... went away.
posted by gwint at 8:16 PM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

This film and Christopher Nolan's oeuvre has got to be the reason for why AMC is doing this:

The world's largest movie theater chain is adding open captions at 240 U.S. locations
posted by Apocryphon at 8:56 PM on October 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

In terms of sound - I had zero problems with my home setup.
posted by porpoise at 9:15 PM on October 25, 2021

Just saw this, and I think the most striking thing was the sheer scale of everything in this world. Really impressive how big it all felt. And what great atmosphere is created, especially with the music and then the silences in those huge palace spaces. I appreciated that there was very little spoken exposition, and when there was, it didn't seem too forced: the stillsuit fitting; the computer encyclopedia explaining how the Fremen walk, etc.

The only moment that jarred me out of my suspended disbelief was when Jessica says "that was insane!", which seems like a very modern American vernacular, inconsistent with the other dialog.

I haven't read the books, but this makes me want to. I'm still confused at Paul's visions, but I'll trust that there will b an explanation in a subsequent movie.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:56 PM on October 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Since a lot of people new to Dune might not know this, a Public Service Announcement: each Dune novel is substantially worse than the one before. My best advice to anyone considering the series is to read the first book and stop. It’s a genuine classic and still ranks near the top of “genre fiction with a distinctive authorial voice.” (And I mean that in an intensely positive, non-sarcastic, non-hipster-ironic way)

Each novel after, you’ll have more answers to “hey whatever happened to Person X, or Plot Point Y?” and with each new answer you will have an increasing amount of regret. I made it as far as the fourth book, which according to words on the cover is a novel about a god emperor worm-boy but according to words inside the cover is a memetic weapon for inducing migraines, boredom, and cringe. I get what it’s trying to do but that doesn’t make it suck any less.

The movie was pure excellence. Someone finally gave Dune the good Peter Jackson treatment, or near enough that I don’t feel much need to defend the point. This was also the first time I have ever gone to an IMAX theater without a weaponized sound system - it was a bit overwhelming, but never painful. Which was a pleasant surprise and a perfect fit for a version of Dune that was equally a pleasant surprise. The dark scenes were quite clear so I suspect the streaming conversion either needs a little retuning or somebody needs to have a yell at somebody about HDR settings somewhere.

If you’ve made it this far, Novel = yes but only one, IMAX = yes but bring ear plugs just in case.
posted by Ryvar at 11:48 PM on October 25, 2021 [19 favorites]

The only moment that jarred me out of my suspended disbelief was when Jessica says "that was insane!", which seems like a very modern American vernacular, inconsistent with the other dialog.

I was similarly bothered by Paul asking Jessica "Are you good?" after the 'thopter crash, but I knew the language wasn't going to be completely to my liking as soon as Paul addressed Leto as "dad" in the trailer.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 12:36 AM on October 26, 2021 [11 favorites]

Watched it again, this time on HBO, and really enjoyed it even more this time. I could relax and just enjoy the filmmaking and story-telling without being all tensed-up and worried that Villeneuve would fuck it up. The visual composition of shots is just remarkable; the cinematographer also did Rogue One, a movie that I have issues with but it really is the best looking Star War.
posted by octothorpe at 5:41 AM on October 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'd love to watch this film with the score entirely replaced with Scott Walker's work at low volume. And I say that as someone who mostly liked the score.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:10 AM on October 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ryvar, it's not that I disagree with you overall, but "Chapterhouse: Dune" is nuts, in a mostly good way. I'm not sure I'll ever read "God Emperor of Dune" again, but I'll probably dust-off "Chapterhouse" once or twice more over the years.

One of my friends pointed out that there is no mention in NewDune of the fact that Paul is receiving Mentat training, as well as the usual ducal instruction and the "forbidden" Bene Gesserit teaching from Jessica. After thinking about that for a couple days it seems to me to be an important oversight. Paul's destiny as a "messiah" isn't just a fate of birth, it's also the result of several other factors, including the unique education he's receiving that allows him to do things other people can't. I always appreciated that - without the mental and physical discipline he was taught he wouldn't really be able to become Muad D'ib. As I age, I also better appreciate how Leto tried to ground Paul's thinking in terms of humanism and obligation to others, even if the Atreides view that largely through the lens of some noblesse oblige. At least it's there somewhere, and that can't be said for a lot of space opera.
posted by wintermind at 6:27 AM on October 26, 2021 [11 favorites]

Honestly if there's a minor complaint I have with NewDune it's that the Mentats kind of got left out of the story entirely even compared to OldDune. They're just weirdos who roll their eyes up and do sums. Woo? Not that I think they got a whole lot more attention in OldDune, or that OldDune really integrated them into the movie. On the other hand, without bringing up the Butlerian jihad and the lack of electronic computers and etc etc etc, they just end up like Lobot - a kind of weird unexplained character with some utterances that are important to nerds.
posted by Kyol at 8:03 AM on October 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yeah mentats get short shrift in this film in general. Villeneuve has talked about this:
There are some characters that are less developed that I’m keeping for the second film — that’s the way I found the equilibrium ... We tried in this movie to stay as close as possible to Paul’s experience. Then, in the second one, I will have time to develop some characters that were left aside a little bit. That’s the theory. I hope it will work.
There's no mention at all of the Butlerian jihad, or what mentats do, or Paul's mentat training, ... I'm OK with it, this film decided to focus more on the Fremen story than the other stuff and it works for me. Liet Kynes' role here in particular is great, including her exciting death. But I do miss the other things.

The way the film starts with Chani talking about being exploited is a really nice update. The novel is framed by Princess Irulan, whoever that is. I was always uncomfortable with the book's perspective on colonialism and white guy saviorism. Making Chani visible from the start recenters the Fremen story. It's awkward because she doesn't really have anything to do in this movie, at least until the end, but she's a visible exponent of the Fremen perspective with a voice, something this story greatly benefits from.

Sorry for anyone experiencing sound issues. FWIW I saw it in a real IMAX theater (Metreon in SF) and the sound was great. Theater-filling but not unpleasantly loud. There did seem to be a couple of dialog mix problems to me. Most was fun but a couple of things like the Litany Against Fear from Jessica were mumbly. Given how meticulous post-production on this film has been I have to think the filmmakers thought it was OK but it did not work for me. Definitely not as bad as, say, Interstellar though; 95% of the dialog came through crisp.
posted by Nelson at 8:07 AM on October 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

The novel is framed by Princess Irulan, whoever that is

I thought it was a nice bit of foreshadowing, the bit with Paul contemplating a marriage to the Emperor's daughter, who is, in fact Irulan. She, as Paul's wife, is the chronicler of his life.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:46 AM on October 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

I'm looking forward to the introduction of Irulan, Alia, the Emporer, Guild representatives, Feyd-Ruatha and Count Fenring. I wonder if they will include Tuek and that little 'side-quest' by Gurney Halleck. As can be seen from the list above, there's a pretty long critical cast of characters still to include. I'll be a bit sad if they cut the Count from the story.

There is a lot of world-building in the novel that was entirely skipped in the movie, but which I think is okay to be missing. Things I immediately noticed weren't mentioned yet though mentioned in the first half of the novel;
X are the ones I think they can and should skip;
* I expect in the next movie:

x Kanly
x Mentats
x Butlerian Jihad
x Orange Catholic Bible
x Carthag vs Arrakeen as capital city
x Water opulence/decadence of the royal palace (and note left for Jessica)
x Dr. Yueh's imperial conditioning
* Gurney's musical performances
* Lasguns and lasgun/shield danger
(Ample opportunity for a mention during Duncan Idaho's escape flight
or during the assault on Liet Kynes redoubt.)
x Family Atomics
* Guild Navigator Spice Addiction
* Other Bene Gesserit bloodlines and relationships
posted by meinvt at 10:41 AM on October 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I only found out recently that Dune the book was originally created out of two serialised novels, so this approach does have some precedent (and as I understand it, the first novel ended at a similar place to this movie).
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:55 AM on October 26, 2021

On Gurney's music: Dune's Denis Villeneuve Says One Cut In Adapting The Sci-Fi Book Was 'Painful' For Him.
Okay, I will say something to you guys, there's one thing that is painful for me: it's Gurney Halleck's baliset. It's something that I shot; it's something that exists. Josh [Brolin] was awesome, but I couldn't, for several reasons, put it in part one.
There's a short interview with Josh Brolin about it but no actual instrument. You'll have to make do with Lynch's baliset, featuring a spinning wheel like a hurdy-gurdy and yet no audible drone.
posted by Nelson at 11:08 AM on October 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Part Two is a go.
posted by Nelson at 11:20 AM on October 26, 2021 [11 favorites]

I was always uncomfortable with the book's perspective on colonialism and white guy saviorism.

The first novel wasn't as clear as it might have been on this point, despite Frank Herbert putting his cards on the table with a character saying that "no more terrible disaster could befall [the Fremen] than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero". Even so, the ending looked simple enough -- Paul defeats the bad guys, liberates the Fremen, and they all (might) live happily ever after -- that you had to doubt whether Herbert really meant it. Dune Messiah made it very, very clear that he did (which is why I always recommend that new readers continue at least that far).
posted by Zonker at 11:53 AM on October 26, 2021 [12 favorites]

I thought that ornithopters flapped (and flexed) their wings like a bird, not like a dragonfly.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:45 PM on October 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I read the book first as a teen-ager, and then thought Duke Leto was kind of a cold fish (and also obviously doomed). Watching it now, like when Oscar Isaac talks to Paul before leaving Caladan, my head turned around 180 degrees.

Separately, I agree with Ryvar that there's a Logarithmic Scale Of Nuttiness to the books, and stopping after the first one is probably juuuuust fiiiine.

I want the second part to come out ASAP, and I am totally comfortable if it's like four hours long! I haven't been able to sit still through an entire movie in...God, years, honestly -- and the first half of this one passed smoothly without me ever checking my watch or my phone. I have no idea what's different about it, but I was transfixed.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

MetaFilter: just weirdos who roll their eyes up and do sums.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2021 [20 favorites]

I understand that I am in the minority, but I like the sequel more than the original. Dune is a big buildup of preordained destinies. Dune Messiah is a total takedown of that way of thinking. In my mind, part of Frank Herbert's whole idea of writing Dune was the chance to tear it down in the end. I love it.

God Emperor of Dune, however, is a whole different thing.
posted by Quonab at 5:33 PM on October 26, 2021 [9 favorites]

Nelson: Lynch's baliset, featuring a spinning wheel like a hurdy-gurdy and yet no audible drone.

That baliset is based on a Chapman stick.
posted by porpoise at 6:06 PM on October 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

The background info on the sandtrout always reminded me of all the whaling info in Moby Dick: not totally vital to the plot, but too good to just throw out.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:37 PM on October 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

The lack of any background on Yueh's Imperial Conditioning made it difficult to understand both the depth and surprise of his betrayal. I really do get that there's just too much in the novel to translate into two films, but it wouldn't have taken much time to insert a comment about it.
posted by wintermind at 7:55 PM on October 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

I thought this is interesting but not sure if it deserves to go into its own FPP, but the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative is doing a two-part livestream on Dune and Muslim World Building: Significance of Social Commentary of Race, Imperialism, and Faith in Contemporary Science Fiction. It's mainly on USA timezones so it's a bit too early for me, but this Friday will be them discussing the movie itself. Last Friday was a more general panel on Dune and SFF in general and Muslim influences therein. The only online copy of that stream is hosted on FB though, but if you can bear the FB Live platform, here's the recording. I really enjoyed the panel, as it also includes ppl like Dr Maytha Al-Hassen, who also writes for Ramy, and Dr Ali A. Oolomi, whose Twitter is a must-follow, personally.
posted by cendawanita at 11:16 PM on October 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

Maybe the nice thing about this movie not actually bombing is the memes that might actually mainstream islamic(ate) terms enough that the right-wing media and shows like 24 wouldn't be the only sources of dinner conversation trivia. This personally left me on the floor.
posted by cendawanita at 5:01 AM on October 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

Not much more to say about the film, really enjoyed it thoroughly and was surprised at how much my kids (age 13 and 10) both enjoyed it as well. However, the epic bagpipe fanfare for House Atriedes on their landing on Arrakis made me suddenly realize how much I needed Hans Zimmer space bagpipes in my life. It's a lot. I've loved Zimmer's work since Backdraft, loved bagpipes all my life, loved space movies all my life and now . . . all in one place.

Seriously, pull up the soundtrack on Spotify or wherever (the "Sketchbook" album for some reason, I don't know what that's about) and listen to it. You'll thank me or curse me later.
posted by dellsolace at 6:16 AM on October 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was so enamored with the atavism of the space bagpipes I made a short video clip of the arrival on Arrakis. Just the solo, not the full scene. I can't quite find the actual track from the movie online but the Dune Sketchbook Soundtrack has similar material in a different mix in House Atreides around 5:30.

More about the bagpipe recording here and here
One of the major and more surprising musical moments in “Dune” occurs during a ceremonious arrival on the desert planet Arrakis. The scene is announced with the portentous drone of bagpipes, an aural assault generated by a battalion of 30 highland pipers playing in a converted church in Scotland. Ear protection had to be worn: the volume reached 130 decibels, the equivalent of an air-raid siren.

That unholy din in particular permeated Zimmer’s home during his late-night work sessions. “My daughter told me the other day she has bagpipe PTSD.”
The arrival hit me differently in the movie. The solo bit in my video is really sad and plaintive, lonely. It doesn't sound at all like traditional bagpipe music; non-Western scale, unusual melody. It's not at all like a marching-to-war soundtrack. The bagpipes come back in the battle scenes later and sound a lot more martial.
posted by Nelson at 7:54 AM on October 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Huh, this movie just seemed like a remake of Lynch's Dune, but with the clinkers fixed. And that's not a bad thing! Also, Part 1 ends right where Lynch's script fell apart! At least with a part two in store, we won't get that awkward "Did I mention that Paul and Chani fell in love?" segue after Lynch quite obviously edited all that out. Chalamet really is the "It Boy" of the hour, isn't he? I liked how the director said Chalamet won him over for the part, when what probably happened is the studio said, "By the way, your lead actor is Chalamet." I missed some things from Lynch's version: Yueh's tears of betrayal, Baron Harkonnen's perversion. I liked how they replaced the clumsy voice-overs of Lynch's film with subtitled mumbled foreign language/sotto voce. It works! I hope this does very well, although not well enough to spawn a 'Dune cinematic universe.'
posted by jabah at 12:17 PM on October 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hm, I rewatched the 1984 Dune the same day I watched 2021 Dune, and they both seem to hang on the same skeleton, with the same story beats. I also skimmed through the novel (which I read forty years ago) to see if that was inevitable, and I don't think it was. For instance, the opening scene of the novel is the pain-box scene, while both films take a while to build up to that in similar ways. I think Lynch's Dune is definitely more imaginative (example: the Guild Navigator throne room scene, with Eraserhead's baby, all grown up!), while Villeneuve's is more finely executed and coherent.
posted by jabah at 9:09 AM on October 28, 2021 [9 favorites]

While the movie itself was bombastic, impressionistic, alien, and beautiful, a warning: I saw it in a "liemax" theater and the sound was so loud I think it might have actually caused some hearing damage. Not cool.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:28 PM on October 28, 2021

Really liked it! Great atmosphere, great visuals. I didn't think anyone could make an ornithopter plausible, but having the wings vibrate super-rapidly like helicopter rotor blades really sold it.

Couple of niggles.

In the book, Baron Harkonnen is presented as sinister but kind of a genius. The movies seem to make him dumber.

Jessica seemed kind of nervous and high-strung. Thought she could have been presented as calmer and more capable.

I really liked Shooboo's link above. I think it does a good job of explaining why Herbert's take on Arab/Islamic culture is problematic but not to the extent that the book needs to be thrown away.

Dune and Dune Messiah were originally a long serial in Analog magazine, which I think makes it OK to slice up into different chunks, I'm glad they didn't try to rush the whole first book into one movie.

In general the books get worse but I really liked God Emperor which has a strong focus and a great conceit. "The predator does not hate its prey... Prey assuages hunger. Prey is good."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:22 AM on October 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

I once saw someone say Denis Villeneuve gets itchy whenever there's more than two colors on screen at a time and I've never been able to forget it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:13 PM on October 30, 2021 [14 favorites]

My takes:

- The book: didn't really like it as a teen, but I felt like it was required reading to be an SF fan; might do a re-read to see if it works better for me now. (I didn't even finish LotR until after I'd seen the Jackson movies.) I found the ideas and approaches to technology fascinating, but Herbert's prose style deadly. (I read another book of Herbert's some years before I read Dune, called Hellstrom's Hive.) I also read the bit in Herbert's short story collection Eye that talks about Lynch's movie and how bitter he was that Star Wars stole their thunder. (I don't agree; if someone is going to brood over someone else doing movie with black-clad villains, heroes with special powers, or even desert-planet settings, they're going to have a very bad time of it.)

- The 1984 Lynch movie: not really successful; it may have been the best movie adaptation of the book that you could have reasonably expected from the guy who'd previously made Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, for what that's worth. A lot of the designs, and some of the casting, were compelling--I recognized the guy who played Gurney Halleck in another SF franchise a few years later--but lacked a really plausible Paul in Kyle MacLachlan (who would himself do much better in future Lynch projects). If Herbert really thought that Lynch's movie would have made Star Wars money if it had come out first, he really didn't get the movies.

- This adaptation: much better! Chalamet makes for a much better Paul; he seems haunted by his visions, and seems to take initiative much more naturally and more often than I remember either the book or Lynch version doing. I also get a better impression from his mom than I did in previous versions.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:55 PM on October 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

It was sufficiently gorgeous for a big-budget action film that it feels somewhat churlish to complain about the relatively disjointed characterization. Quite happy to have seen it on the big screen.
posted by praemunire at 11:10 PM on October 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hans Zimmer’s music could have undercut the visuals by adding some tenderness and emotion; instead the roaring and BWAAA and doomsounds amplified the austerity and gigantism. I would have preferred the former. Some contrast between the scale of the settings and the intimate concerns of the individual characters would have been helpful. But I suspect that was at least as much Villeneuve’s choice as it was Zimmer’s.
posted by argybarg at 8:01 AM on October 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I've been thinking that the soundtrack, while impressive and still resonating in my head the next morning, was rather one-note, but that seems to have been a deliberate call by the director.

(needs more booj)
posted by praemunire at 8:22 AM on October 31, 2021

A few years ago Matthew Morettini posted Recovering the Mindset, a comparison of three interpretations of the same scene from the novel Red Dragon as filmed in Manhunter, Red Dragon and the TV series Hannibal, assembled by cutting them together to show how closely they followed the original text but how they differed in style (previously on MetaFilter).

I'd love to see something similar for the two film adaptations of Dune and the TV miniseries. The Gom Jabbar scene is the obvious one to use, but I'm sure people familiar with all three can suggest others that would work well.
posted by Major Clanger at 10:29 AM on October 31, 2021 [6 favorites]

Rewatching the Smithee version:

The Paul/ Jamis fight is without the blue eye effects (of course, the scene was cut before post-prod).

Everyone has 70's long hair; that's gotta be bad for stillsuit moisture reclaimation! Wouldn't head-to-toe depillation be a thing? Head and body hair, iirc, wasn't mentioned in Herbert's first book/ 2 parter that became the first book. Oddly apt that the BG are head-shaven in the Lynch visioning.

Chani also has an overly elaborate quasi-Japanese-ish hair bun-holder-thingy (this was 1984), that the high-heeled geta in V's 'Dune' is consistent with.

I know "people" hate voiceovers, but the coloured-pencil/ pastel board drawings (based on the movie post casting/ filming) and the narrative description of the State of the Universe was compelling for 11 yo me and still mostly works for me now.

Rewatching, it reminded me that the original idea was not that machines/ AI took over humanity, but that people complacently allowing machines to mould their lives paved the way for other (oligarchical) people controlling the machines directed those machines to take over humanity (to further oligarchical rule).

Very fucking apt. Like, Facebook, etc. apt.

It bothers me that Herbert framed the revolution against machine interference as "religious," but with MAGA and anti-vaxx, that's so scarily appropriate.

Herbert was kinda hippy/ hippy adjacent - I can't recall if smell (other than melange) was ever mentioned in the book. Some of his kid's terrible fanfiction might have mentioned body odour, but wasn't a consistent thing.

Stillsuits would/ should (?) stink (at least like hockey equipment?) from microbial metabolic products, but also human pheromones. I can't help but have a subconscious like/ dislike of people based on their underlying body smell. In a sweat-soaked culture, that's going to be more prominant.

IRL, I'd expect a lot of personal odour suppression to be involved - to avoid being smelt while stalking someone in order to murder militarily murder them. The book stillsuits have masks to breath out of (the mouth) but breathing in is still through the nose. Maybe everyone's olfactory senses are dulled by the ubiquitousness of melange?
posted by porpoise at 8:29 PM on October 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Startlingly missing from the V movie,

Paul: "Water. Millions of decaliters. A treasure."

Stilgar: "Great than treasure, Usul. We have thousands of such caches. And only a few of us know all. And when we have enough, we shall change the face of Arakis.
posted by porpoise at 8:53 PM on October 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

EndsOfInvention: "when Dr Kynes is stabbed, water gushes out of the wound"

In the Lynch version; the stillsuit was cut open. No need to actually kill someone in-person, just break their stillsuit and leave them in the desert.

The non-referenced text here is that Kynes is an Imperial agent and has immunity and Imperial protection.

Anyone who is involved with killing him faces consequences from the Emperor.

Slicing open their stillsuit and leaving them out in the desert allows passing"I didn't murder/ kill him" to pass BG/ polygraph tests. In the books, the Baron went that far and further - got those people that transported Kynes to a reasonable location killed too.

"So far as I know, the Imperial Ecologist wanted to go somewhere. I let him go."

(not spoken; I had some people pick up Kynes in response to his wanting to be transported somewhere. I had some other people rough them up. I had some other people slash their stillsuit. I had some other people transport them to where he wanted to go.

Spoken, truthfully; I had some people pick up Kynes, I had some people transport them to where they wanted to go. I have no idea what happened afterwards - maybe Kynes is the reason for the uprising.)
posted by porpoise at 9:06 PM on October 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

Herbert was kinda hippy/hippy adjacent - I can't recall if smell (other than melange) was ever mentioned in the book. Some of his kid's terrible fanfiction might have mentioned body odour, but wasn't a consistent thing.

"Paul slipped out his nose plugs, swung the mouth baffle aside. The odor of the place assailed him: unwashed bodies, distillate esters of reclaimed wastes, everywhere the sour effluvia of humanity with, over it all, a turbulence of spice and spicelike harmonics.


Farok took a deep breath. 'The smells of home,' he said.

Paul saw that the man was enjoying the stink of this air, that there was no irony in his tone. He heard his mother cough then, and her voice came back to him through the press of the troop: 'How rich the odors of your sietch, Stilgar. I see you do much working with the spice … you make paper … plastics … and isn't that chemical explosives?'

'You know this from what you smell?' It was another man's voice.

And Paul realized she was speaking for his benefit, that she wanted him to make a quick acceptance of this assault on his nostrils."
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 12:29 AM on November 1, 2021 [12 favorites]

I saw this yesterday and was delighted by how good it was. Sat there enraptured for 99.9% of the whole running time, which is super rare for me. Can't wait for part 2 now.
posted by knapah at 6:59 AM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I started the book years ago but couldn't get into it and put it down. Never watched any of the other adaptations of it.

Loved this movie though. Could nitpick a few things but not really worth mentioning. Some suspension of disbelief is necessary for any movie. Especially in the Sci-fi/fantasy genres.

I'm glad to see I wasn't the only person struggling to hear some dialog. I know I am getting old and have lost some hearing but was hoping it wasn't that bad. I liked it enough I went to see it a second time in IMAX with open captioning. Was much better. This old fart hopes that captioning catches on in more places.
posted by Justin Case at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2021

I saw this with my wife late Saturday night, had to see it in IMAX before Eternals comes out next week and takes over all the screens, and we both enjoyed it. My wife knew nothing about it going in whereas I read all 6 books + the encyclopedia back in the day. I thought the film did a pretty good job of explaining what needed to be explained but my wife had a couple of questions about things afterwards, most of which was actually covered in the film but you had to be paying attention and some subtitles probably would have helped. I think some sort of Star Wars text crawl or other into could have better explained the big picture, which again was explained in the movie but you had to be paying attention and able to make out all the dialogue.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:34 AM on November 1, 2021

I liked some of the hippie sensibilities, (or sixties insensitivities,) Jessica paraded out in her concubinage wardrobe, the beauty of the gauze scarves playing out in the wind at a formal, military, investiture, with Dad in uniform and the Kid in his "Sunday best." I too was jarred by the casual register of street English in a few passages, it almost felt as if they dropped character. I loved the Ornithopters, they really shook the D-box theater where I went. It is a huge film and seeing it on a small screen is a waste of the magnitude of this production. There were so many amazing concepts in Herbert's books, the personal details of the players, the court psych tec, the mentats seemed much more human when I read the book. I can't wait to see how the next production handles the spice heightened "tweaker" Guild Navigators. I worry that though I am generally sound attuned, I have no memory of the score at all. I probably need a second listening.
posted by Oyéah at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

For the longest time, the joke is that Dune gets mistaken as a Star Wars knock-off by the uninitiated simply because both have desert planets. The funny thing is with this adaptation, one could imagine newcomers to accuse it of being a Total Recall knock-off, because the way they bring up the idea of Arrakis becoming a terraformed and lush planet (but was foiled by colonial neglect) in an aside at the abandoned imperial ecology center, and Paul asserting right then his desire to become space emperor and deliver that salvation to the Fremen, was done so hurriedly and out of left field (when did he previously show any capacity for ambition to do that, when he's a day into his new role as the leader of house Atredies?), that an uninformed observer can say this movie was cribbing from earlier established tropes. Even more delicious is that the terraformer space messiah angle wasn't in the original Philip K. Dick story. Villeneuve copies Verhoeven!
posted by Apocryphon at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I had the problem that I've read the book upwards of 10 times, so I could recite a lot of the parts of the dialog that were from the book by heart, and noticed when they changed or took out individual words. I'm not saying this in a 'they destroyed my childhood' way, but rather that I could understand and generally agreed with a lot of the changes they made to the text, which parts they changed and which they left out. Liet-Kynes' death, for example, was better IMO than the father-dream sequence in the book.
I loved it and thought it was a great adaptation.
posted by signal at 2:53 PM on November 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Did the worm laugh? That was awesome. Sad that I couldn't see it in the theater, with the pandemic.
posted by eustatic at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2021

Here's the review you've all been waiting for, by Paul Krugman, Nobel* prize winning economist.

* - the econ nobel is arguably a fake nobel, but in sci fi threads, Krugman gets full plaudits.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:18 PM on November 1, 2021

It was a stunning depiction of events but I think much of what I liked in that book wasn't events. The pacing felt so breakneck -- here's some events, here's some other events -- that I had event fatigue but at the same time I felt like nothing happened because all of the thoughts, intrigue, and internal motion was elided. I guess you're supposed to mind read these people based on their facial expressions or something?

Missed this post, agree entirely. While some individual pace was thoughtful and slow (to detractors, ponderous and plodding), the script as a whole just rushed way too fast. It feels like a lot of people are tuning into this because they are fans well-acquainted with both the book and prior adaptations. The low expectations established by those failed attempts has allowed this competently-made production to sail over, easily.

But when you get down to it, the movie doesn't do the vital work of explaining a lot of important things. And I'm not talking about the CHOAM or the Spacing Guild, or even plot elements like Imperial Conditioning. I'm talking about giving the characters depth beyond the actors' fine performances. It feels like a lot of fans who are knowledgable of the franchise are filling in the gaps that the movie presents with content from the books and from Lynch's film.

I keep going back to the Lord of the Rings because as a similarly fair-weathered casual fan towards that series, I found Peter Jackson's adaptation positively encyclopedias in bringing to life the world, its characters, and essential plot to life. And it did so with perhaps even more characters than Dune has. Whereas in this movie so much of what is shown on screen are mere sketches of what they could have been.

But enough of my adaptation grousing. Hyperion is happening. HYPERION IS HAPPENING
posted by Apocryphon at 9:48 PM on November 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

Slightly concerned about Hyperion given that Dan Simmons went full right-wing fruitcake ("Flashback" spoilers) a while back. For once it's a good thing if they don't let the author have any input.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:59 PM on November 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Terror was a big hit on AMC, and doesn't seem to have been affected by Simmons' political views.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:18 PM on November 1, 2021

I could recite a lot of the parts of the dialog that were from the book by heart, and noticed when they changed or took out individual words.

Any theories as to why "total obliteration" was changed to just "obliteration" in the Litany Against Fear?
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 11:44 PM on November 1, 2021

I keep going back to the Lord of the Rings because as a similarly fair-weathered casual fan towards that series, I found Peter Jackson's adaptation positively encyclopedias in bringing to life the world, its characters, and essential plot to life.

Jackson was working with much more familiar types and, let's be frank, a better writer, steeped in storytelling technique. The major characters of Dune are much more alien from the get-go. I don't disagree with the general point that his characters are a lot more legible, but he was on an easier setting than Villeneuve is in tackling Dune.
posted by praemunire at 7:01 AM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Several people have mentioned thus far that they were looking forward to seeing the Guild Navigators depicted in the next installment. My take is that we have seen them, and they are kinda cool, just understated.
They were the ones in the white suits, with the full face shield helmets that appeared to filled with spice fog.
While I did miss what another commenter has described as "Eraserhead baby all grown up", Villenueve was never gonna top that so keeping them low-key is a good move.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:22 AM on November 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

I really liked this. As a huge book nerd I was delighted by how many story beats they managed to stick in competently from the first half of the first book, including awesome flavor stuff I didn't expect to make it in like the Atreides sign language. I thought Paul's vision showing him and Jamis as best bros in one possible future was a good way of showing that he sees many possible futures, not just the one that's going to happen, though I'm not sure how easy it would be for non-book readers to pick up on it. Presumably in the next movie they'll expand on that more.

There was one thing that was not quite faithful to the books that I still thought was very skillfully handled: in the scene with the gom jabbar, we see Jessica outside the room saying the Litany Against Fear, and we cut back and forth between her and Paul with his hand in the pain box. In "reality" Jessica, with her Bene Gesserit training, would never say this kind of thing aloud, or display any visible outward signs of fear or discomfort, but this scene allows the audience understand what she's feeling, and when we see her quickly compose herself before anyone else can see her, we are shown that she possesses this kind of self-control, and that it is important in her role as the Duke's consort not to be visibly upset.

Meanwhile, as we cut back to Paul the film implies through juxtaposition that he is also saying the Litany to himself as he has his hand in the box, but he does not say it aloud, again showing the importance of self-control and the outward appearance of it. (Does Paul explicitly run through the litany in the book? I thought so, but I can't quite remember.)

I think this kind of thing was a big part of the reason the book was seen as difficult to film for so long. A great deal of the action is internal, and revolves around people picking up exceedingly subtle cues from one another, thinking about what it means (often in the context of truckloads of world-building lore which Herbert is able to make palatable to his readers in a way that no film plausibly could), and then consciously not displaying an outside reaction to it at all.
posted by whir at 10:02 AM on November 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

I'll also chime in and say that the truism that each of the Dune novels is worse than the previous one is not really accurate, in my opinion, and while it's hard to live up to the grandeur of Dune proper, there is a lot of really awesome stuff in the next two books. Gholas! Face dancers! Abomination! Much as I loved it as a younger person, though, I have to admit that on my last read-through I came to believe that God Emperor is a bad novel, despite having a lot of great ideas, and final last two seem a lot more dated than the previous ones, for some reason. (I guess mainly it's the sex stuff.)
posted by whir at 10:11 AM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've been telling friends that have started reading Dune that the series is either 1, 4, or 6 books depending on how far you want to go. I understand that there are more books after that (and I did notice that Kevin J. Anderson had a fairly prominent credit in the film) but I never saw the need to read those.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2021

They were the ones in the white suits, with the full face shield helmets that appeared to filled with spice fog.

So that's what Daft Punk is up to these days. And the Vorlons.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:32 PM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Saw it as my first theater film back - what a choice! Agree with most of the comments here, but have a few additions that hadn’t seen above:

- I thought that the set design/city planning on Arrakis was perfect in that it was so plain from the outside, as it underscored the harshness of the environment in a way that some of the other plot elements did not.
- This was some of the best spaceship design I’ve seen in a long time. Epic and otherworldly.
- It seemed to me like they inserted about 50% more “flash forwards” than were strictly necessary for plot and character development, which I’m contributing to a desire to get more Zendaya in the first film
- One moment that struck false to me - the worm-rider we see in the distance at the end was a big tonal shift to the slow build in the rest of the film; seemed very “extreme sports” to show up in that way. Would have rather waited until Paul’s training to see it happen.
- Was somewhat underwhelmed at the physical design of the sand worms for that matter - i feel like they oversimplified for such a large creature and it felt scaled up somehow.
posted by q*ben at 4:53 PM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

So that's what Daft Punk is up to these days.
Actually I thought they were more like the Sardaukar (the Sardaftpunkar?).
posted by HeroZero at 5:29 PM on November 2, 2021

My take is that we have seen [the guild navigators]

In a similar vein, my take is that the Herald of the Change will turn out to be Count Fenring
posted by Zonker at 6:24 PM on November 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

whir: "(Does Paul explicitly run through the litany in the book? I thought so, but I can't quite remember.)"

Yes, and Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam notices and comments on it even though he doesn't say anything out loud.
posted by signal at 6:31 PM on November 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Gurney to sing
No Rain

Er... like this?

I saw it tonight, two weeks into its run: five people in a seven-hundred seat auditorium. It was very Denis Villeneuve movie, I'll say that: sprawling and epic, but curiously inert for me. I'm glad others enjoyed it, though.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:49 PM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Bret Devereaux's "Fremen Mirage" series of essays was mentioned earlier and he's now posted Miscellanea: Reflections on the Sands of Dune (2021).
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Speaking as a Dune neophyte, I enjoyed this more than I was expecting; due, I think, in large part to the impressive, and occasionally disconcerting, visuals. Somewhere I saw an observation that Villeneuve gets itchy when there are more than two colours on screen at any one time; as that’s more or less my aesthetic in a nutshell, it’s not really surprising his style works for me.
And while I don’t think they were cribbing anything whole cloth, much of the imagery — particularly the floating, semi-obscured monoliths, monochrome palette, and the unsettling feeling of a slightly wrong take on a familiar subject — had for me a strong Zdzisław Beksiński vibe (particularly the Harkonnen aesthetic; the spider-human and the Baron levitating from his chair felt like they could have emerged from of one of his canvases). And while there’s not one specific thing I could point out as a reference, many of the palace interiors gave me strong Villa Straylight vibes.

The soundtrack was pretty good overall, but skewed very Epic Zimmer at points, e.g. when the Atreides forces begin fighting back the Harkonnen attack, and the Chalamet hero-shots in the departure from Caladan. I at first thought Lisa Gerrard wasn’t involved this time round, but I just hadn’t recognised her at first, maybe because Loire Cotler was also doing vocals, maybe because she used less of that deep, resonant, DCD-style sound here.

That brief scene on Salusa Secundus will haunt my dreams. Everything about it was so viscerally unsettling, familiar yet wrong, and far more effective at instilling a sense of dread than more conventional signifiers of power or ruthlessness. The manipulated throat-singing, the sunlight lensing through lashings of rain, the blood of the sacrifices mingling with rainwater to anoint the troops, the voice of the Sardaukar warrior speaking to Piter. I found a YouTube clip of the priest’s chant which already has about 2.5m views, and I totally understand why — it’s so creepily hypnotic, I want to both listen to it forever and never hear it again.

Most of the casting I thought was really good, as well. (I’m not totally sold on Chalamet, but don’t know that I could suggest a replacement.) Stellan Skarsgård was a great choice for the Baron; that gravelly voice has some Lawrence Tierney scary badass vibes to it, and I definitely agree with the previous comment likening him to Col. Kurtz. Specifically his introductory scene, where he passes a hand over his wet, bald head and down his face, felt almost like a direct homage to Brando in Apocalypse Now.
I saw a video where Villeneuve described Rebecca Ferguson as a “Stradivarius”, which seems apt. Her emotional calibration and control are extraordinary. And that amazing dress she wears for Charlotte Rampling’s visit, with the loose black cowl like a frame for her hands and face. I actually wondered for a few moments during that scene if there was some psychic connection between she and Paul, as it seemed like she was experiencing his pain during the ordeal, but rather it was was her own fear and pain which she then brought under control by speaking the litany.
Not having read the book, for me her performance helped to show the incredible pressures she and her family are under, and her ability to overcome that and present a cool detached demeanour to show the character’s power and strength. (I understand this is an example of the screenplay going a bit off-piste, as the book character was shown as having impeccable control at all times, but I think it works well here as a way to visually convey both her inner turmoil and her ability to master it when necessary.)

I’d agree with previous comments that the inhospitability of the desert could have used more showing and less telling. Most of the characters seemed physically unaffected by the environment, and IIRC with the exception of Thufir Hawat and the date palm guy I don’t think we even see anyone sweat, though Duncan Idaho being bearded on Caladan and shaven on Arrakis was a nice detail. And I understand they’re paying a premium for pretty, recognisable faces but having all the leads bareheaded and unmasked at the precise moments you’d want as much protection from the elements as possible will never not be a little irritating.
Would also agree on the casual speaking register — “Are you good?” “That was insane!” &c. — was jarring, and that Paul’s visions of friendship with the Fremen he ends up killing in combat was effective at showing both that his visions aren’t a certainty, and the more universal experience of loss. Most of us have had to deal in one way or another with the reality diverging from the potential, the sense of grieving something that could have been, and I found watching Paul, haunted by the visions of their friendship, having to kill that person and the potential future he was a part of to be devastating. It was an amazingly powerful bit of visual storytelling, those few scenes illustrating such profound loss.

Dune is one of those books I’d always intended to read but never quite got round to, but after this I’ll almost certainly be picking it up, and it looks like part 2 has been greenlighted, which is something to look forward to.
posted by myotahapea at 6:45 AM on November 9, 2021 [11 favorites]

Right. So, credits where they're due, after scrolling up apparently the 'somewhere' I saw the comment about Villeneuve's colour preferences was not in a tweet, but in Mr.Encyclopedia's comment. And it was in the Gom Jabbar breakdown video which was linked a few comments above that he compared Rebecca Ferguson to a Stradivarius.
posted by myotahapea at 12:29 PM on November 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

On first viewing found it distant, middling, and stark, particularly the characters. The action was too Hollywood but I suppose that's unavoidable. The King on Netflix, is way better in how it handles violence and Timothée Chalamet is also very good in it.

Second viewing, enjoyed it a bit more. Loved the last half hour the first time and even more the second time. Hopefully this is an indication of the direction of the second film. Great to see the desert be ocean like. That Chalamet played Paul as a young man would be in that situation.

The Duke, Yueh, Hawat, Gurney were all flat, stock, and uninteresting to me. Incredibly underdeveloped. I hope the second film has better characters.

Still feel a multi-season Anime version of Dune would be the best Dune.
posted by juiceCake at 6:35 PM on November 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Overinvested podcast people have done a review. They touch on some interesting things, especially their discussion about the music, and Frank Herbert's own history with Native American issues (and not Middle-Eastern ones lol).
posted by fleacircus at 6:27 PM on November 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Throughline also did an interview with Haris Durani that provides some great perspective on the book and the film, particularly on how some of the middle-eastern themes were toned down for the movie.
posted by q*ben at 2:17 PM on November 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Lasguns and lasgun/shield danger

While I don't think there's any mention of their interaction with shields, I think there's at least two uses of lasguns in the movie: the Fremen attack at the start of the movie, and the Sardaukar in the ecological station.
posted by zamboni at 1:18 PM on November 15, 2021

I finally got around to watching the David Lynch film, and I don't get the hate. It's quality is debatable but it's not a singularly terrible adaptation. I would think a lot of its badness can be attributed to it being a 1980s sci-fi film that was limited by the capabilities in visual effects and storytelling abilities of the era (wasn't there a period of abstract, socially conscious New Wave science fiction in the 1970s that might have spilled over?), and a lot of its weirdness can be attributed to Lynch himself. So it might not be a great film, but it was memorable, and it fit in with the times.

Sort of how this film fits in with the ever-more bombastic sense of epic production of our modern era, the stark overuse of color filters, the cyclopean extraterrestrial visual design lifted from Prometheus.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Any theories as to why "total obliteration" was changed to just "obliteration" in the Litany Against Fear?

"Total obliteration" seems redundant. To obliterate means to destroy completely.
posted by Emily's Fist at 3:44 PM on November 17, 2021

Where were the eyebrows?
posted by biffa at 5:10 PM on November 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Any theories as to why "total obliteration" was changed to just "obliteration" in the Litany Against Fear?

The movie was running long and they had to cut something
posted by ckape at 5:27 PM on November 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

I felt let down by this. The trailer and casting had already made me feel like it was going to be a bit too 2021 for my taste, and that was true. The characters were all veryyyyy lightly sketched and instead of making shrewd writing decisions to fill them in economically they wasted time dropping in goofy, stale tropes from the last 20 years of blockbusters. I’ve enjoyed the new Star Wars because despite plot deficits and silliness they were rather fun and charming. That wasn’t really an option for goth Star Wars but nonetheless I felt like this movie couldn’t make up its mind what the tone was supposed to be. I like Villeneuve and would never normally accuse him of confusing “dark” and “serious” with “boring” and yet here we are. And I frankly don’t want to watch Chalamet and Zendaya do… anything.

I liked space bagpipes. I think that was the only element that felt truly unsettling. Paul was intensely boring and underpowered which is just about the exact opposite of that character in the book?
posted by stoneandstar at 10:54 AM on November 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

So on second viewing* I’m rather ambivalent; I enjoyed it both more, and less, if that makes any sense.

On first viewing I was fully swept up in the film’s world — story, visuals, performances. Events unfolded quickly enough that I felt fully engaged by everything that was happening, and the brisk progression and visual spectacle were pretty absorbing.

On second viewing I started to notice how ... underdeveloped? much of the story was. I got the feeling I was looking at a beautiful, well-formed skeleton: as others mentioned several characters felt flat and one-note, more like exposition vehicles than individuals with their own motivations and shadings. Entire worlds introduced and dispensed with in the space of minutes, characters who get a handful of lines and then die. They did do a great job with visual storytelling and managed to convey a lot of information and detail quite economically, but really only scratched the surface. (E.g. I was able to pick up on what the mentat place and function was in this society and to infer that they were to some extent the ‘computers’ of this universe but the backstory of why they exist, or that there are ‘twisted’ mentats and Piter is one of them I only got from reading up on the Dune universe after.) Apart from Paul and Jessica almost none of the characters had much depth. Maaaaybe Duncan Idaho and Liet Kynes? Or maybe it just felt that way because they had more screen time than others.

It felt a little reminiscent of Tenet: big, visually impressive setpieces visited for a few minutes’ worth of expositionary dialogue, then on to the next setpiece and next chunk of exposition. But whereas with Tenet I didn’t really mind it, largely because it felt like the timeflow-reversal concept was the main character and that like it or not everything else coming second to it was meant to be a feature, not a bug, here it felt like there were a lot of things which got short shrift in order to fit as much story as possible into the runtime.

For all of that I did still enjoy the rewatch. If anything it made me more appreciative of the visuals, how much their mood-setting contributed to the overall storytelling, and how all the broad strokes were sketched out, allowing the viewer to get the basic sense of the universe even if the details were elided. (I think there's a reason 'vibe' was a primary descriptor in my previous comment.) In a weird way this 2.5hr film feels almost like a book trailer. In this way it reminded me a bit of Alfredson’s 2011 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which had to dispense with a lot of source material to accommodate a feature film runtime but all the information necessary to follow the story is there if you’re paying attention.

Still, I can’t help wondering what this might have been had the story been given more room to breathe. Film may not have been the best vehicle choice (many still feel the 1979 TTSS miniseries is superior, to belabour an analogy): I’ve seen it mentioned a few places that there’s a search on for “the next Game of Thrones”, and this really does feel like it could have been an excellent candidate. Possibly even just a limited series, something would give enough time for some worldbuilding, and to flesh out more of the characters and their relationships, would have gone a long way. And while I suppose there’s a high degree of risk/difficulty to this, going deeper into the things we did see — backstory on the ruling houses, planets, guilds, Bene Gesserit — could be fascinating if done right.

That muscles joke early on grated just as much the second time round, though. Felt like the sort of atonal bit that gets thrown in so it can be shown in the trailers to pander to ‘broader appeal’ and pull higher box office numbers.

*Just a home viewing, unfortunately, as I’m nowhere near a proper theatre. I was hoping to fit in a showing during a trip to a bigger city earlier this week, but as luck would have it the only screentimes conflicted with the event I was in town for, and not even Villeneuve’s visuals were worth an extra night’s stay. Maybe if it’s still playing in the capital in a couple months’ time …
posted by myotahapea at 10:06 AM on November 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I thought it really should have been a series, too. Trying to adapt Dune to a set of movies is almost inevitably going to result in at best a beautiful coffee table concept art book of a film, which is kind of what we got here.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:36 AM on November 29, 2021

Dune (1984) and Dune (2021) - re:View
posted by Pendragon at 2:00 PM on November 29, 2021

When Keynes got out her maker hooks, I was all hype for an awe-inspiring worm-riding sequence. But then she died and I was disappointed but figured they were probably saving that reveal for a big sequence in the sequel.

And then they did show worm-riding anyway, except somehow made it look dull.
posted by ckape at 6:31 PM on December 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

It was worse than dull, it looked like a Mountain Dew ad. The guy next to me laughed audibly. I think this is the wages of cutting the plot in half- executives were worried that the whole thing was landing too softly and had to insert some Xtreme sports.
posted by q*ben at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hey there late to the party! I was really really hoping to see this in a theater sometime in December, but the timing didn't work out, then omicron. So I watched it at home, and was very much impressed.

First, a couple caveats: A. I read all of the Dune books in the early '80s and still re-read the first two on great occasion. B. I love the Lynch version for all its beauty and imperfections and WTFery.

A few notes:

- That's a lot of blue and orange.

- Thopters, A++++

- Amazing casting all the way around.

- They should have left some visual elements for the second movie, such as the worm-wrangling and the presence of water caches.

- I kept waiting for Chani's iconic line, "Tell me of your home world, Usul," but I didn't hear it. They didn't even refer to Paul as Usul. Or did they? They showed the little desert mouse.

- Another iconic line wasn't there: "The sleeper must awaken." Maybe the second movie?

- Did they reference the full scope of what Paul saw in his visions of the jihad to come? If they did I missed it.

- Shadout Mapes deffo got the short-shrift. She needed more scenes.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Another iconic line wasn't there: "The sleeper must awaken."

It was in one of the whispery voiceovers, I believe during the fight with Jamis.
posted by praemunire at 8:06 PM on January 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Found this in the description of a video isolating the Sardaukar chant from the score:
Vocalist Michael Geiger talking about Sardaukar Chants.
“Just my opinion as a voice actor, but you might think of the (Sardaukar) throat singing sounds in Dune 2021 not as "language" but as an encoded military battle chant; a specific series of syllables with the consonants purposefully removed to render the remaining vowel sounds discernible only to the Sardaukar. The result of millennia of phonemic abbreviations meant to obfuscate a hidden message. Other examples of this might be huddle or line audibles from a football quarterback or a drill sergeant counting out a marching cadence. It sounds incomprehensible because it's meant to.”
I rather like this interpretation, particularly in light of some of the other secret languages that exist within the larger universe. I read the book over the new year and the private language between Count and Lady Fenring came to mind, but also the hand signals used by House Atreides in the film.
posted by myotahapea at 4:23 AM on January 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

I don't like the idea of Jamis being fridged for Paul's personal growth, but I did like the moment itself, where a relationship flashes before a character's eyes before he loses it again in an instant, and then having to deal with the grief of a lost loved one while committing to a sense of duty. So much is lost in that moment.

This gives so much more weight to "I was a friend of Jamis..." when they're taking his water. More even than Herbert gave it, IIRC.

I also liked the sinister voices of Paul's past lives whispering at him, rise up, become the kwisatz haderach! You can see that community of voices starting to take him over the way they eventually dominate the God-Emperor.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:09 AM on January 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

I missed this in here after I saw it!

I was going to just stream it at home, but my roommate just gave me a long look and pointed out that "It was directed by Denis Villeneuve, so you're gonna want to see it on a big screen."

"....Sorry, the name's not ringing a bell?"

"Uh...Blade Runner 2049? Arrival?"

"Oh, wait, THAT guy? Shit, yeah, lemme get a ticket."

Scriptwise it's much better than the Lynch version; Lynch tried to jam so much exposition in there (by necessity) that characters didn't really have a chance to breathe. This was better, and way easier to follow. Paul seems pretty unformed right now - but he kind of is in the book anyway at this stage, so I'm more thinking that it'll be interesting to see what Chalamet does in the sequel.

On the technical side of things: there's this really fun Youtube channel I've recently discovered where groups of visual effects artists or stunt performers watch and critique scenes from various films; some good, some bad. I'm actually learning a hell of a lot about some of the technical side of films. And the first one of their videos I saw was their reaction to scenes from Dune - BOTH versions. They'd selected a handful of scenes from the 2021 film and compare them to the 1984 one, discussing how each of the effects were achieved and how they could have been done better (or, often, in Lynch's case, how miraculous they were given their existing limits).

There's also a really fun reaction at one point from one of them, a complete Dune newbie; the others have been trying to fill him in on some of the plot points as they go, explaining things to him. They briefly try to describe Spice, and the newbie just nods and says "So, it's like Tabasco makes you see the future. Got it." When they're talking about the scene with the spice miner, the newbie says that "Okay, so, you grind up those worms and that's spice, right?"

"No - the worms poop the spice. And then people eat the poop."

Newbie hesitates, then buries his face in his hands: "Oh my God, what is this story???"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on February 15, 2022 [5 favorites]

They briefly try to describe Spice, and the newbie just nods and says "So, it's like Tabasco makes you see the future. Got it."

Obligatory Simpsons clip
posted by praemunire at 6:01 PM on February 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

Just watched this today and really enjoyed it, though it felt kind of on-the-nose that the last line of the movie was Zendaya saying “This is only Part One”
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:43 AM on August 27, 2022

I've seen this like three times on HBOMax by now, and I just realized, this is probably the only piece of popular media I can think of where the main characters are a mother and son. That's really cool.
posted by MiraK at 12:04 PM on December 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

popular media I can think of where the main characters are a mother and son

20th Century Women
Little Man Tate
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:38 PM on December 30, 2022

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