• Saira D.

The Triumphs & Tribulations of "Dune"

Hello readers and welcome to 2022! I figured I’d start this new year off with a brand-new film, so let’s delve into why I quite liked Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film… Dune. This piece will tackle the visuals and sounds one usually finds in Villeneuve’s films, we of course need to talk about the star-studded cast, and last but not least, the aspects of the film I didn’t like.

First things first, let’s talk about French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve – whose catalogue of films include Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners, Enemy, and countless other films that I’ve not seen. This director is one I really admire because the cinematography and score of his films are the type that bring tears to my eyes, steal my breath, and/or literally transport me to an alternate reality. His films usually teeter towards the sci-fi, futuristic or mind-trip genres and I just love them! Dune has some fantastic cinematic shots like the ones displayed below that really make you feel space – and by that I mean the scale in which the characters or elements operate within the screen, pitted against an immense background of either landscapes or cityscapes. These visuals almost always generate some kind of emotion, even if it’s just a “wow” factor and that’s truly why I love Denis Villeneuve’s films – plus the cinematographers he clearly works with that help bring his directorial vision to life. With regard to Dune in particular, we have a lot of scenes of very powerful gazes. So much looking into the eyes of characters in this film (but especially Paul and Chani’s) with absolutely no or very little speech presents a very powerful and poignant feeling that not only is interesting to come across – as I personally can't remember a film that does this that much besides The Lord of the Rings (which of course is another very powerful film trilogy) – but it quite literally speaks for itself and I love that (especially in a modern day world where speaking without words is probably the best thing anyone can do at this point in time!). What's more, when these visuals are paired with the eery or futuristic sounds score that you usually find in Villeneuve’s films… that’s what emotes all the feels you may or may not (but I definitely do) feel when watching his films or just certain cinematic scenes.

Next, let’s talk celebrities because so many were cast for this film! Of course our protagonists are Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, but almost every single supporting actor is also a major movie star (Oscaar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and so many more). It’s interesting to see such big names playing minor roles – but then again, we’re now noticing a shift in Hollywood where the younger generation like Timothée and Zendaya are now taking lead roles, and the actors we grew up with are ageing and therefore shifting into different roles. The times are definitely changing!

Last but not least, the aspects of the film I sadly didn’t like. First, I found the scene transitions to be terribly choppy. Was this to cut down on running time? I have no idea and that’s the only thing I can really assume because I didn’t find this to be the case in Denis Villeneuve’s other films but then again, maybe that was just Dune’s editors’ choice. Either way, it really is no beuno. Second, for a film that predominately takes place in a desert where characters clearly state the sun is so strong you can die, our protagonist Paul and his mother Lady Jessica are really out there hardly ever wearing the protective gear they’re meant to so that they don’t die. To me this seems so sloppy because hello have you forgotten the major detail that this desert planet is so hot it kills? What’s the point in bringing it up so much throughout the film if you’re just going to have characters running around in their normal dress or stepping out to investigate the city or landscape whilst wearing the clothes from their own planet? And finally, it just sucks that Dune was so slow paced because it’s based off a six-part book series which might mean we get six films, and the ending of this first film already clearly showcases that the continuation of the Dune story takes place in Dune II. Does it make sense? Of course, but just like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I was incredibly slow paced and then literally everything else happens in Part II – the filmmakers really couldn’t have divided up the action and, well, just more, more evenly between the two films? Either way, Dune is really slow any negative reviews of this remake make sense because they’re probably tied to how “boring” or “slow” Dune comes across as (especially when we think about the lack of script to make way for those very prolonged and powerful gazes).

All that said, I’ve only seen Dune once at the cinema but, I am keen to rewatch it and see if I can find any easter eggs. Moreover, I am more excited for Dune II because I feel as though more will take place (just like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II). So stay tuned folks and let’s see if more unfolds in the coming year!

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