[LMB] OT: Dune

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Thu Oct 28 19:54:49 BST 2021

Calling *Dune* "Lawrence of Arabia in Space" an oversimplification, but
there are clear parallels, particularly in the movie scene where the
tribesmen attempt to duplicate his snuffing of a candle with his fingers
and eventually give up and ask him what the trick is.  He informs them that
the trick lies in not caring that it hurts to do that.

It's a visually stunning movie - although Villeneuve seems to have an
allergy to lighting scenes thoroughly.  Yes, shadow is important to
establishing mood and a sense of space, but a few more glowglobes wouldn't
have hurt anything.

It's a very successful adaptation in some senses.  But I don't think it
stands by itself - without having read the book, many of the nuances of
what I was seeing would have been lost on me, and even more nuances were
eliminated completely.

It's become normal for scenes that don't make it into the movie to show up
in trailers, but I can't shake the suspicion that much more content was
filmed than made it to the screen, even given that a 'faithful' filming of
the first section of the novel would necessarily be at least four hours
long.  I think comparing this version to the eventual Director's Cut will
be quite informative, especially as moments critical to character
development seemed to be missing.  (Eliminating the water chamber and
putting the "promise to Arrakis' future" onto the palm trees gives an extra
layer of meaning to their burning, so I suspect that won't show.  But there
are critical things that we're not shown, merely told, and I find that odd
given Villeneuve's demonstrated skill.)

If you hated the novel, why see this movie at all?  Just go rent the recent
"Little Women" adaptation.

> Full disclosure: I liked the first Dune movie when it came out, and I
> don't remember being particularly impressed by the book at the time, but
> that was a long time ago. Perhaps I should give the book another chance.

It may not be to your taste, but the novel is indubitably a masterpiece.  I
don't believe I've ever come across another novel that was a fractal.

> > One negative thing I read was that it's another "white saviour" movie.

It isn't.  Villleneuve went out of his way to broaden the casting beyond
the standard Hollywood extras, and even beyond the vaguely-Arab phenotype
representing the Fremen... and then people complained.  They'd complain if
he had an all-black cast, because then the movie would be "appropriative".
I suggest identifying the racial grievance-seekers and ignoring them; if
nothing else, the story *Dune* is most closely based upon is a real-world
"white savior" event; it was precisely because Lawrence was an outsider
that he could unify the tribes behind a cause, as they feared any one of
their number growing powerful and dominating the others.

It's especially ironic in this case because of what Paul ends up becoming
in the later novels, which was partly due to Herbert's frustration that
people persisted on seeing him as a Hero instead of a tragic victim and the
worst thing that ever happened to the Fremen.  He spent the rest of his
career trying to set people straight, and failing - which rather proved his
point, but in a way he hated.  People would ask him if he were trying to
start a religion, like Heinlein and L. Ron, and it annoyed him to no end.

Matt G.

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