The trailer for Denis Villieneuve’s long awaited movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune has finally dropped and it’s packed with tantalising moments.
Dune has been adapted before, with the 1984 David Lynch movie and 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries. However, as the first major studio movie adaptation in 36 years, with a celebrated director and all star cast featuring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaacs, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem, this is easily the most anticipated science fiction movie not associated with Star Wars in a long time.
It’s worth noting that this film, unlike the 1984 adaptation is only going to cover the first half of the book, with a proposed sequel to finish the story. This may go some way to addressing the criticisms of that film’s incomprehensibility and echoes Ridley Scott’s assessment when doing a treatment for the 1984 version that it should be shot as two films.
The trailer concentrates on Paul (Chalamet) with glimpses of his beloved Chani (Zendaya) seen mostly in precognition. The theme of being aware of the future is backed up by the warnings of Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) who tests Paul and warns that his family will lose everything. The contrasting dream of love and warnings of imminent doom set the stage nicely for both the trailer and the film.
A rousing version of Pink Floyd’s Eclipse underpins the rest of the trailer as we get tantalising shots of our cast in action, amidst scenes of fire, violence and desperate flight.
It might be beautiful, but this is not a forgiving fantasy world.
I have to note that the visual direction and worldbuilding seems to be absolutely spot on, from the contrasting visual style of the Atreides and Harkonnens, to the architecture of Caladan and Arrakis, the scale of the Heighliner starships, the realisation of the ornithopter aircraft and presentation of the knife fights and shields.
It’s so very, very beautiful and it really feels like the Dune which played inside my head reading the book.
The trailer closes with the thing we’ve all been waiting for, as Chalamet speaks the memorable warning against fear, we get a good look at the Shai-Hulud, the sandworm of Dune.
He’s a big lad. I suspect we’ll see more of them.
Most worries as a long-term fan of Dune are placated by this being the first of a two-parter and the prominence of Idaho, lack of Alia or the Emperor making perfect sense in that context, while views of the Navigators and more baroque elements of the universe can wait.
Other pedantic complaints like a lack of Fremen still-suit discipline and Paul’s fight with Jamis appearing to take place in the open rather than underground can be put down to cinematic need. Gotta see those actors’ faces when we can’t read their thoughts.
It remains to be seen how the movie handles the long term criticism of the book’s ‘white saviour narrative’ and presentation of desert peoples versus being a criticism of imperialism, colonialism and exploitation. With two of the three named Fremen characters being played by actors of at least partial African descent and Villeneuve’s deft hand (not least in his 2010 film Incendies), I have faith that it won’t suffer the fate of so many big budget films and gloss over such narrative concerns.
All in all, as a devotee of the book and most of the prior adaptations, Dune looks great and I can’t wait.
Dune is set to be released on 17-19th December worldwide and on 26th December in Australia.