Dune review: hugely ambitious masterpiece


Dune has been given the unsolicited role of Redder Van De Cinema for many. Denis Villeneuve’s latest project is seen by most as the first major blockbuster to show the masses the way back to Het Witte Doek. The key question is, of course, whether this is the right film for it. Can this film unite us in a love of cinema or will it turn out to be a false messiah? One thing is certain: there is no shortage of ambition.

The film, based on the first book in Frank Herbert’s epic , has already been made into a film. The real movie fans will no doubt remember David Lynch’s version from the 80s. Even bigger fans know that Jodorowsky had tried to film the story before that. The first was not a commercial success and Jodorowsky’s Dune already failed during pre-production. The book was subsequently awarded the term ‘unfilmable’ and tucked away somewhere deep in the archives. In other words, Villeneuve knows how to choose his challenges.

In order to properly explain the story of Dune , a lot has to be told. Frank Herbert’s world excels in fascinating concepts and different worlds, each with their own characteristics. My great fear was that the whole thing would be incoherent or confusing. Screenwriters Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts have managed to introduce the universe in an organic way with verve. This Dune is without a doubt accessible to everyone and I cannot emphasize enough how impressive that is. I suspect this was a big argument for dividing the book into 2 films. It ensures that we get to know all the important players at a leisurely pace.

We don’t dune on mediocrity
Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) is haunted by visions of a girl (Zendaya) on Arrakis, the desert planet. His father and Duke of House Atreides, Leto (Oscar Isaac) was ordered by The Emperor to rule the planet. The previous rulers, House Harkonnen, are not happy with the change of power and want revenge. Arrakis is the only planet where you can find ‘Spice’. An addictive substance with life-prolonging and mind-altering powers.

The Harkonnen have been mining Arrakis for decades and have become obscenely rich as a result. All this at the expense of the original inhabitants, the Fremen. With Atreides on the planet, House Harkonnen loses a huge source of income.

Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), is part of a matriarchal religious group called the Bene Gesserit. The sisters have developed superhuman powers over the years through physical and mental training. Oh yeah, did I mention the desert planet has giant subterranean sandworms?

On paper this all sounds very absurd, but in the hands of the right actors you willingly surf those sand waves. Timothee knows how to carry the film, but the entire ensemble around him raises the level higher. Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen, rarely have I known a cast so perfectly chosen for their respective roles.

Political and religious
Deze thema’s zijn heel voelbaar in de film.Het volledige plaatje klopt. Ruimteschepen, wapens en sets zijn allemaal adembenemend en helpen mee om de nodige gravitas te brengen. Mensen die Jodorowky’s Dunehave seen, will notice that the team has tried to take certain things with them. It really felt like a nice tribute to it.

Up to this point, you’d think I’d give this movie a perfect score and while I’m very inclined to do so, I’m writing this review with mixed feelings. As mentioned before, the book will be divided into 2 films. The story is cut in half at a point where the tension just collapses slightly.

While I understand why the movie ends where it ends, I wonder aloud if it won’t be too anticlimactic for newbies. From a thematic standpoint, it was the only right choice, but narratively it could potentially be disappointing. It’s an argument I give because I want to judge the film on its own, which is difficult because it’s clearly part of a bigger picture. So keep that in mind when you go to see this movie in the cinema. Don’t see it as an unsatisfactory ending, but one that leaves you with a desire for more.