10191 year. On the desert planet Arrakis, melange is mined – an incredibly valuable substance that prolongs human life and provides interstellar travel. The extraction of melange (it is also called a spice) is carried out by people from the Harkonnen House, who earned a lot of money from this, which somewhat worries Emperor Shaddam IV. And then the emperor orders the House of Harkonnen to leave Arrakis, and the extraction of melange is given to Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), the ruler of the planet Caladan.
Duke Leto dislikes this story terribly: he suspects that it will all end badly, but they don’t argue with the emperor, so the Duke himself, his concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and Leto’s son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) go to Arrakis to organize production melange. The Duke also plans to establish friendly relations with the Fremen, the indigenous population of Arrakis, one of whose sieches is led by the stern warrior Stilgar (Javier Bardem).
Meanwhile, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), whose nephew is Rabban (Dave Batista), leader of the Harkonnen army, is plotting a coup on Arrakis that would return the melange mining to House Harkonnen. Vladimir plans to kill not only Duke Leto, but also Jessica and Paul. The Reverend Mother Gaia Elena Mohiyam (Charlotte Rampling) tries to protect them: Jessica, like the Reverend Mother, belongs to a special Bene Gesserit sister order. However, Vladimir, despite the intercession of the Reverend Mother, still plans to kill them.
Meanwhile, Paul often has strange dream-visions that involve a certain mysterious girl (Zendea). In these visions, Paul is waging a holy war on the planet Arrakis.
“Dune” – the famous and downright cult science fiction novel by American writer Frank Herbert, first published in 1963-1965. After this novel, Herbert wrote a number of sequel novels – a cycle called “The Chronicles of Dune”, and after the writer’s death, his son Brian and writer Kevin Anderson released several more sequels to the Dune universe.
The novel became a source of inspiration for many other works – for example, “Star Wars” and the film “Avatar”, which, by the way, has a lot of intersections with “Dune”: there is also a planet with natives, on which aliens mined a very valuable substance.
A very famous computer game was made based on Dune, and in 1984 the first film adaptation of the book appeared: a film of the same name, which was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by David Lynch. The film was shot in Mexico in extremely difficult conditions, at different stages a team of 1,700 people worked on the film, which was a record for that time, and a huge $45 million was spent on production at that time. The producers did not allow David Lynch to the final cut, and Lynch demanded that his name be removed from the credits.
At the box office, the picture completely failed, collecting only $ 30 million, its rating is quite low (although not a failure), fans of the book criticized the film. However, we note that this film has its fans who consider the film adaptation excellent.
But the novel is generally considered extremely difficult to film because of its scope and many storylines.
Nevertheless, in 2000, John Harrison directed the Dune mini-series (there were three one and a half hour episodes), but it was a rather low-budget project (only $ 20 million), and although it had a good rating on IMDB, it clearly did not arouse interest. . And about him, the fans of the book did not even break their spears, that’s what it came to!
Legendary Entertainment acquired the rights to a film and television adaptation of the novel in 2016, deciding to restart the franchise. Director Denis Villeneuve showed interest in the project, and in January 2017 he officially took over as director. It was immediately decided that the novel would be divided into two parts, so that the first half of “Dune” would be released first, and the second half a year later. Filming of the first part took place from March to July 2019 in Budapest, Jordan, Norway and Abu Dhabi.
Denis Villeneuve handled the source material of the novel quite carefully, but it is clear that it was absolutely necessary for the picture to omit some storylines, and it was impossible to set out all the details of the existence of this world, its features and its laws in the picture, so for many viewers, those who are not familiar with the novel, certain moments shown in the film caused claims (for example, why does melange help to make interstellar travel, why do such advanced soldiers of these civilizations have practically no firearms and they fight with melee weapons, well, and where, generally speaking, are all sorts of computers, supercomputers and all that), but in the novel it is all well explained.
To be honest, I didn’t really plan to watch this film: I didn’t read the novel, somehow it all passed me by, I didn’t play the famous game, I didn’t watch Lynch’s film, and besides, the reviews of some friends were from series “beautiful, yes, but something is painfully dreary and drawn out.” And I just tried to watch “Blade Runner 2049” by the same director a couple of times, but there it was exactly what was “beautiful, but something was too dreary and drawn out”, so I never got it.
However, the new “Dune” is a landmark and sensational work, very good actors and actresses starred in it, and I thought that this film should definitely be given a chance, so I decided to watch it.
First, my wife and I began to watch “Dune” at home on the TV screen. Our television is large, the sound is good, but it’s still not a cinema or even a projector on which we watched films in our Moscow apartment. And after watching an hour and a half, we realized that we wanted to see this film on the big screen, because from a visual point of view it was made absolutely amazing: only two films had made such a vivid impression on me from a visual point of view in my entire life – Avatar and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Unfortunately, it turned out that “Dune” is no longer shown in IMAX in Barcelona, there is already a new “Venom”, a movie and domino, which I am not going to watch in the cinema, because I did not like the first film at all, so we had to watch a picture in a regular multiplex in 4D format (it’s pretty funny, we watched the movie in this format for the first time), but the picture was in 3D, which bothered me a lot, because 3D here is completely so-so, about nothing, but itself technology from the “snack degree steals” series: that is, when viewed in 3D, colors and contrast are noticeably more faded, which is annoying. But even there it all looked very, very cool!
The painting by Denis Villeneuve is really just striking in its visual component, especially if you can appreciate how amazingly great, impressive and large-scale it is! Spaceships, planetary worlds, the world of Dune and the Dune Desert, cool flying machines ornithopters, huge buildings, giant melange crawlers, the famous sandworms (according to the director, it took a year to develop the image of the giant sandworms of Arrakis) – this is really a direct delight especially when viewed on a big screen.
I read negative reviews from viewers who did not like the visual component of the picture, but it almost always turned out that they were watching either the screen on their laptops or even on smartphones. So what do you guys want, I ask them? Well, or not, I will not ask. They do not want anything, they did not really see anything at all.
From a plot point of view, as far as I understand, the film was made exactly according to the novel, simply with the exception of certain lines that simply did not fit into the picture: who is the Space Guild, who are the guild navigators, to whom melange gives the ability to navigate ships through folded space (they play an important role in the book, but navigators are only briefly mentioned in the film), why people of the future do not use computers, what kind of Bene Gesserit Jessica belongs to, and so on.
It’s all well played, I liked it. Timothée Chalamet is a great Paul. I understand that fans of the novel may have a completely different image (Kyle MacLachlan played Lynch Paul in the film), but I liked Chalamet here, despite the somewhat leafy image of the actor as such – he is such a kind of “cherub”. However, Timothy himself never depicts himself as a cherub, and the audience’s claims to what kind of a tough fighter Paul is, when he would only play a sensitive homosexual or a young alter ego of a Jewish intellectual from New York, in my opinion, are untenable: the film clearly shows that, firstly, he was seriously trained by mentors, very capable men Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin, who played in Villeneuve’s “The Killer”) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa), and secondly, part of his skills and opportunities are associated with the “Bene Gesserit” clan, because he is the first male (Jessica, who could program the gender of her child, against the clan’s demand gave birth to a boy, not a girl) with the power of the “Bene Gesserit”. So it’s not all about muscles at all (there was a good joke with Paul’s muscles in the film), but about preparedness and skills.
Oscar Isaac was great as Duke Leto Atreides. This actor never disappoints me: he is very good even in weak films, and when he has a place to turn around, he is extremely good, well, here the role is just cool. Duke Leto is a positive character, obviously tragic (the Duke knows for sure that a visit to Arrakis will not end in anything good), he treats his associates well, who respect and love him very much, he is terribly worried about Paul. He has no chance to change anything, he just accepts his fate and does everything he can and should do.
Rebecca Ferguson is a very good Jessica. She plays an important role in the story, she faces various trials, and she is the sister of the Bene Gesserit, which means that she can do a lot of things, which Jessica demonstrates.
From the character of Stellan Skarsgard they made just some kind of masterpiece, and purely visually. The name of the character is Vladimir Harkonnen – the author of the original novel Frank Herbert himself said that he wanted to give this absolute villain a United Statesn name (1961 – the Caribbean crisis, the world was afraid that these crazy United Statess would unleash a nuclear war, and they were the personification of Evil) and a Scandinavian surname.
Director Denis Villeneuve said that he wanted to make this Vladimir a kind of hippo man, and Stellan Skarsgard spent seven hours a day in the dressing room chair so that his character looked the way the director wanted. But it was worth it – this villain impresses immensely! Well, it was played cool, however, as always with this wonderful and very characteristic actor.
You can talk about other roles for a long time, many excellent actors and actresses played here, but it makes no sense to list them all in detail, because the picture just needs to be seen.
Absolutely stunning visuals, superbly choreographed and acted, very impressive music by Hans Zimmer himself – this is certainly one of the most iconic films of 2021. I didn’t even expect it to be so great. And I’m really excited!
Claims for some protractedness – I understand and even share in some ways, but this is a saga, it is so staged, and it should be quite leisurely. I would still put the first part in a maximum of two hours, but I’m not the director of this film, so I can put anything anywhere – it does not play any role.
Denis Villeneuve and the whole crew are just great, this is a great picture, and I’m looking forward to the second part, although it will have to wait as much as two years – it is just beginning to be filmed.
video version of the review
Dune / Dune: Part One review
Director: Denis Villeneuve Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgard, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling
Budget: $165M, Global gross: $241M
Fantastic action movie, USA-Canada-Hungary, 2021, 155 min.