I first read Dune, written by Frank Herbert, about 40 years ago. I haven’t re-read it for about 25 years, so I’ll mostly discuss the film versions.
I loved the first movie, which came out in 1984. The cast was stellar, it starred Patrick Stewart, Kyle MacLachlan, Sting, Francesca Annis, and many others who performed beautifully. For me, Patrick Stewart alone would have made it worth it. The clunkyness of the tech made sense, given the background of the universe. While I’ve read that some do not like the soundtrack, I do, a lot.
I wasn’t very fond of the weirding modules, which did not exist in the book, but they did allow for some great lines. “Break!” But let’s not talk about the special effects… I was re-watching it recently and my kids were extremely unimpressed with the personal shields, as well as some other things. Even for 1984, the special effects were pretty bad. And then there was the rain at the end… no. Just… no.
The greatest failing of the 1984 movie, I think, is that you just can’t adequately cover the book in two hours. Now that can also be said about most full length novels, but the Universe of Dune is complex and fascinating, and just can’t be so drastically summarized.
The TV series remake was pretty good in many respects. I like how they went far more in depth with personal interactions, allowed by the six hour length, but I mainly preferred the original actors. For me, the new version, performed by the original actors, would be great.
The new version did not include the weirding modules, which was a vast improvement. It went with the original fighting method, which integrated Bene Gesserit physical training into their fighting. I’m not sure, but they may have also been trying to make reference to the secret hand language primarily of the Bene Gesserit with the odd way the younger spacing guild members behaved.
The new version also did not include the voice over personal thoughts of the characters. Many people found that to be an improvement, but I didn’t. In the books, far, far more is thought than is said, secrecy is paramount, and so the voiceovers served the purpose of providing the audience with insights that would never have been spoken out loud.
All movies have some interesting continuity errors, and the newer Dune is no exception. I was particularly amused by the progression and regression of Jessica’s pregnancy. After a scene where she appears very pregnant, she helps with the training of fremen warriors. She looks like she’s only first trimester during that scene. That sure would be a handy skill!
Neither of the film versions have any where near as much political intrigue as the book, and while that upsets many people, I find it understandable. There is just so much going on in the book that it would have to be treated more like Game of Thrones, with an entire season of episodes for each book. The acting would have to be phenomenal to pull off all the scenes properly, and frankly, that would be very expensive to film.
With a new movie in the works, we’re watching very closely to see how well the next movie does. We do know one thing – we’ll be talking about it more on the blog as news develops!
Which is your favorite? Are you excited for the new adaptation?