Dune? Yes. What about it?
Well, for a long time the release date for Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune seemed to be best represented by one of Paul Simon’s most popular songs – that is, it kept Slip Sliding Away.
Here’s The Windup … And The Pitch
Now let’s borrow a very un-Dune-like metaphor to describe the halting style of the film’s release so far – baseball. Well, it’s un-Dune-like unless they play some form of the Great American Pastime somewhere else in interstellar space, right? The IPBL: Interplanetary Baseball League?
Warner Bros. originally scheduled the film’s release date for November 20, 2020. A swing and a miss! Strike One!! The WB pushed it back to December 18, 2020. On the inside corner … Strike Two!! Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the release slid to October 1, 2021, where it took over the release slot for The Batman. Foul tip, missed by the catcher. Still an 0 – 2 count. In late June 2021, Warner Bros. announced that it had pushed the film back again to October 22, 2021, to avoid competition with the James Bond pic: No Time To Die. It’s a long fly ball to deep right field. It’s headed for the foul pole. Will it be foul or a game winning home run!?!
Only time will tell. Warner Bros. hopes that it turns out to be the latter, not the former. With the new release date and the baseball analogy, that would make Denis Villeneuve right there with Reggie Jackson – Mr. October!
Why Should Dune Make Us Swoon?
Have you read Frank Herbert’s original tome? Many have. Many more than many, actually.
In fact, Dune, Herbert’s best-known novel, has been translated into 14 different languages and has sold more than 12 million copies since it was published in 1965. It tied for a Hugo Award (with Roger Zelasny’s This Immortal), and won the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Not bad!
More Good Stuff
Herbert filled the long novel with material that makes for great reading. For instance, he devised:
- One overarching feudal interstellar economy featuring warring trade factions
- A unique, extremely valuable and highly coveted substance, the Spice, that is only be found on one planet (Arrakis)
- An honorable family that undertakes the stewardship of the planet where the Spice is collected, and
- The emotional draw between Paul, eldest son of the honorable House Atreides, and Chani, a female member of the fearsome Fremen of Arrakis.
Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find
There are also great heroes with amazing names, like Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho, scientifically spiritual people like Thufir Hawat and and massive amounts of uplifting heroics, treachery and death. And sand worms. How could the Sand Worms stay hidden until the last sentence of this section? It just wouldn’t be Dune without the monstrously glorious sand worms.
That’s what makes turning this great book into a great movie both a blessing and a curse.
It seems to be a blessing that director and co-writer Denis Villeneuve is prepared to knock out of the park (there’s that baseball analogy again). From an early age, Villeneuve wanted to adapt the book for screen. He was extremely inspired by the 1984 David Lynch adaptation and knew that with the right budget and team he could get ‘r done.
If you believe the most current trailer, this adaptation is going to outdo anything you have seen before.
BONUS: Do You Know The Difference Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy? LOOK HERE.
Pretty Pictures, Indeed
If the latest trailer is any indication of what we’ll see in the finished product, the scale of Villeneuve’s vision is massive and the attention to detail seems nearly infinite. The contrast between planetary worlds is extreme, from the thick forests and marshes of Caladan to the heavily industrialized cityscapes of Geidi Prime to the loamy sand dunes of Arrakis. Various human factions, and their associated machinery, stand apart from one another. For instance you can easily differentiate the good guy Atreides from the bad guy Harkonnen, even when everyone gets to the desert planet of Arrakis.
Characters With Character
Were there an Academy Award for casting, I would give it to Jina Jay and Francine Maisler right now. The actors selected are superb and they know how to deliver. It’s almost a given that several are going to be even better than expected, and you know who you are, Dave Bautista. It’s not everyone who gets to segue from Drax the Destroyer to Glossu Rabban Harkonnen, aka: The Beast.
Here follows a run down of the principle cast members:
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides
Last seen as Zefirelli in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Chalamet appears ready to bridge the gap between the young and inexperienced Pal Atreides that arrives on Arrakis and the worldly, war-weary, mystical man he becomes. **
Zendaya as Chani
Sure, Zendaya helps out Spider-Man. But does she have anything else to prove? Disney channel shows, feature films, book author, and ambassador for Convoy of Hope. Just get out of this lady’s way already! **
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
The duke is wise, intelligent, and compassionate. He’s also a raging bull when dealing with his enemies. He stops at nothing for ubine, Jessica, and their son, Paul. A great role for a very intense actor! **
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica
She’s made a big splash as Ilsa Faust in three of the Mission Impossible films. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see this lady’s story arc including some pretty bad-assical combat training. **
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
Brolin invests each role with gravitas. One of the best exchanges in the the 2021 trailer is when Duke Leto Atreides says to him, “Smile, Gurney,” and he replies, grimly, “I am smiling.” That tells you everything! **
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
This guy is amazing. He’s a great fighter and pilot. He’s killed 19 Saurdaukar, and they’re harder to kill than cockroaches. He’s so strong that his muscles have muscles. Is there any other reason Jason Momoa should play him? **
Javier Bardem as Stilgar
Young actor Javier Bardem was almost typecast as just a hunky slab of beefcake. Time, increasingly broody eyes, and a healthy hank of a beard change everything. His character, Stilgar defends the ecology of Arrakis. **
Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam
Charlotte Rampling creates a character very much in the dark. If she was a beer, she would be Russian Imperial Stout. If she were coffee, she would be Volcanica’s Sumatra Mandheling. Okay … enough dark. She’s scary dark. **
Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Harkonnen
You’ve seen this guy playing Erik Selvig in the Thor movies. Google him in Dune; he’s almost unrecognizable as the scion of the Harkonnen clan. Source: * **
Dave Bautista as Rabban
Last seen in in Army of the Dead, Dave Bautista has exceeded everyone’s expectations as an actor. The former WWE star credits the role of Drax the Destroyer with changing people’s perception of who he is. You go, guy! **
Feelin’ What, You Ask!?!
Now that Dune’s 2021 release date seems to finally be cast in sand … err, stone, Simon and Garfunkel’s The 59th Street Bridge Song might better describe how things are now.
Don’t know that one? You might remember it better as: Feelin’ Groovy!
* Source1: YouTube – DUNE 2021 Stellan Skarsgard Talks Baron Harkonnen Role and Transformation
** Source2: YouTube – DUNE Trailer 2 (2021)