A New Generation of Dune

Based on the iconic 1965 science-fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. With multiple COVID-19 related pushbacks of its release date, Dune was made available to the public in theatres and for streaming on HBO Max on October 22nd. The movie had a lot to live up to, as the book holds an important legacy in science fiction. With a combination of stunning cinematics, a powerful soundtrack, and a talented cast and crew, many believe that Dune upheld this legacy.

The story takes place in the year 10,191, roughly 20,000 years in the future. It follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a gifted young man born into an inevitable destiny beyond what he can comprehend, and with an ancient prophecy to fulfill. He travels with his father, the Duke of Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and witchcraft possessing mother (Rebecca Furgeson) to the desert planet Arrakis, a dangerous, yet resource rich place. Here, the House of Atreides will gain control over the flow of the most powerful substance in the universe: spice, which is the key to space travel in the Dune universe. However, this family faces several great conflicts upon their arrival to Arrakis, especially with the evil house that previously controlled Arrakis, House Harkonen. Throughout his journey, Paul seeks the help of the native Fremen people of Arrakis, specifically from a Fremen girl named Chani (Zendaya) who he has been dreaming of for years. As his new life on Arrakis progresses and he faces more challenges, the only way for Paul to survive is to embrace and conquer his fears.

The major themes of Dune were made clear as the plot progressed. Not letting yourself be consumed by your fears is the essence of Dune. Viewers watch Paul come to this realization throughout the film as he pursues his destiny. However, it can clearly be seen that he still has far to come to build his character, which leaves the audience with anticipation for future Dune movies. Another theme that made itself clear throughout the film was coming of age. Paul was often overwhelmed by the roles he had to fill and responsibilities he had to take on. He went through self-discovery, built relationships and faced loss. As the protagonist of the story, Timothée Chalamet did a great job portraying Paul’s inner struggles and growth into a leader.

Senior Devyn Wong saw the story of Dune for the first time on October 30th.

“I thought the movie was amazing. As someone who’s never read the book or didn’t really know anything about the plot beforehand, I didn’t get confused at all and was able to follow the story. There were so many parts that had me on the edge of my seat, the acting was really good.” 

While some critics of Dune claimed that the film was confusing, with the right amount of focus the plot was fairly easy to follow. The film opened with a narration that provided context for the story, which was very helpful to first-time viewers.

The most memorable aspect of the film for many were the cinematics and visuals. Filming took place in several locations throughout the world, all providing accurate visuals and conditions for the story. Some filming locations included Hungary, Jordan, Norway, and Abu Dhabi. The use of these locations provided visuals that simply could not be achieved with a green screen. With a combination of elaborate sets, filming locations, and highly realistic computer generated images, the scene was set to tell the story in an enticing way that gripped the audience’s attention.

This film was only the beginning for the Dune franchise. In fact, Dune Part 2 has been confirmed to be released in October of 2023. With a total of 6 books in the original series, there is a long way to go until the story is complete. Seeing Dune come to life has been a thrilling experience for life long fans, and has also created a new generation of fans for this classic science-fiction story. See Dune in theatres now, or stream it on HBO Max from your home.

Illustration by Leo Metzger