This was half a movie so I’m only going to give it half a review.
We headed out to the cinema again last night to catch Denis Villeneuve’s new Dune remake on the big screen.
Now, I’m one of those people who was fine with the ’80s Lynch / Smithee production (I was very happy to hear the orchestral rock riff in the background of at least one scene in this new movie, it feels right), and while I like Herbert’s book I don’t worship it, and I also liked his son’s books so I’m no kind of purist. I’m fairly easy to please. I believe I’ve explained enough times the level on which I enjoy movies. It’s equal parts impossibly shallow and insanely setting-oriented.
So when I say there was enough world in this to make me incredibly happy it got made, but there wasn’t enough story in it to be anything but frustrating beyond my spoiled-rotten ability to bear it, you might have an inkling of what I’m babbling about.
Here’s a picture of Stilgar and some other people standing still while wearing stillsuits. I don’t know. Half a review, remember?
Fun Dune fact #1: Paul Atreides [editor’s note: I am reminded by my nerdy friend Veronica that it was in fact Paul’s son, Leto II] later takes a massive dose of spice and turns into a human / sandworm hybrid and becomes God-Emperor of the Imperium. We are unlikely to see this on the big screen but I’ve been wrong before and oh boy do I hope I’m wrong this time.
Yes, this was a work of absolute art. It’s faithful to the book although it’s been a while since I re-read the books so I’m willing to bow to more fervent readers on this one. It was visually amazing and fun to watch. And we just about get to the part where Paul and Jessica escape Harkonnen cutthroats and get to the Fremen sietch for the first time before the fucking movie just fucking stops. And I don’t care if that’s a spoiler, you need to fucking know this is only half a movie and the other half might not even get made.
Although it probably will. I know I’m doing my part to pay for it, and I’ll definitely go and see it if and when it ever appears. I don’t know why this is a caption instead of a paragraph but maybe it will make sense when the review is actually completed? Either way, you probably read this in Drax’s voice so that’s something.
Fun Dune fact #2: Even Frank Herbert mispronounces “Harkonnen”, which I guess means I (and the ’80s movie from which I believe I got the pronunciation in the first place) are wrong but that doesn’t stop me from fucking hating the way they pronounce it in this movie.
So by all means, support this movie. Ambitious work like this should be rewarded, and it is absolutely beautiful. And I may be able to pick out a proper story arc on a second viewing, I don’t know. Mrs. Hatboy seemed satisfied that the journey of Paul Atreides had a clear path and ended at an important crossroads, so I will concede to her wisdom. And I know I’m exhibiting spoiled-audience crappiness here and demanding instant gratification. But … look, as long as they make the second part of the movie, it’ll be fine.
I’d still have preferred to watch five-and-a-half hours of complete story rather than the almost-three-hours of stunningly gorgeous prologue that we got. But I am definitely going to be in a minority with that take.
Speaking of stunningly gorgeous … fun Dune fact #3: Paul was supposed to be a girl so (s)he could marry Sting (I mean Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen). But Jessica loved Leto so much she gave him a son instead. I suspect Sting would have shrugged and made the best of it.
This movie is a beautiful piece of art that deserves to be encouraged. I’m perfectly happy throwing money and support at it. But part of what annoys me about this whole thing is, when Luc Besson made Valerian, he knew his movie had to be a proper narrative with a beginning, middle and end, and so he was forced to make a butchered mess of a much bigger story for the sake of getting it out there. And it failed, and we can only hope that failure didn’t completely and finally poison that particular creative branch.
But how amazing could he have made it, if he’d gone this way with it and just created a lovely, incomplete tapestry and gone “here it is, if it makes enough money maybe I’ll finish it”? Imagine that in a French accent. There you go.
This isn’t Villeneuve’s fault. I give him a lot of credit for the ballsy approach. But it’s a symptom of the corporate, capitalist stranglehold that is destroying art.
I loved what they did with Max von Sydow, by the way. For real, Liet-Kynes was always a favourite minor character of mine and this was a cool interpretation of the role, well acted.
This movie is not this generation’s Lord of the Rings. Or if it is, it’s the animated movie that was made the year I was born: half a movie, with an unceremonious cut-off and an intended sequel that never quite ended up happening. Here’s to hoping Villeneuve’s Dune doesn’t suffer the same fate.
One thing I can say for sure though, the perfo
[to be continued (…?)]