“This is only the beginning”
By Minal Bista
Director Denis Villeneuve, who gave us some of the best sci-fi films like, Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, is back with a star-studded new movie adaption. With each new production, the size of his films has grown larger, and “Dune” is the biggest one yet.
Unlike Tinseltown’s last attempt to adapt Dune which will undoubtedly still sting like a phantom scar that refuses to heal; Villeneuve’s work has given justice to the book. This version of “Dune” based on Frank Herbert’s audacious 1965 novel, is grand, thrilling and has a narrative depth. Some might get frustrated by the slow pace and lack of closure, but it only points at the direction of a promising second part. With its grand visual spectacle and massive ambition, it may be the first film of the pandemic that calls for a wide-screen immersion.
Dune is a story about a hero’s journey, yet one with messianic implications and deep metaphorical layers involving spices, the environment, colonialism, and religion. Thus, it is a no surprise that the film had to spend its starting hour essentially building the groundwork, utilizing voiceover to describe the planet Arrakis, and then coming up with a variety of techniques to inform Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), and by extension the audience, about what he’s in for.
The year is 10191, and the emperor has sent Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), his clairvoyant concubine lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), and their son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) to colonize the harsh desert planet Arrakis and mineshaft its psychedelically shimmering spice (“the most valuable substance in the universe”) which was recently evacuated by the villainous Harkonnens, who had become wealthy by taking a large portion of the spice mining.
In order to mine the spice, the duke has to make peace with the planet’s native inhabitants, the Fremens, Bedouin like tribe of sand people (including Javier Bardem and Zendaya). Then the story slowly starts to unfold with rich details and remarkable visuals. When Zendaya says “This is only the beginning” near the end of the film, she teases the audience and leaves them in awe.
The storyline mostly follows the book, with changes to turn one character from male to female. Film’s designers, who create a tapestry out of shades of brown; its sound designers and editors, who traverse from whispers to roars; and its visual effects artists, who have developed hundreds of unique methods to represent the beautiful and unique scenes, all contributed to the creation of this masterpiece and a technical marvel.
It was a delight to sit back and watch this film. The production of the second part, on the other hand, was contingent on the success of the first. With that being said, Warner Bros has recently revealed that they will be filming a sequel, indicating the film’s enormous box office and critical success. Part two, hopefully, will bring the closure that viewers are longing for.