Looking Forward to Legendary 'Dune'
A Short Look at the Potential for the Forthcoming 'Dune' Movie, with Some Glances at the Failures of David Lynch's 'Dune'
Dune, Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction masterpiece and the series that followed, should be the cinematic master series of the 21st century. In a cinema culture dominated by the continuing Star Wars series and the ever-present Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Expanded Universe, Herbert's Dune series stands with at least seven possible main series movies and even more prequels and expansions already written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Herbert's legends represent a much beloved yet mostly untapped potential pool of multimedia products. With Legendary Entertainment's acquisition of film rights, we may well stand to get the first successful film adaptation of this epic saga.
Much as Star Wars (at least the original six movies) is the story of R2-D2 set against the backdrop of the Skywalker legend, Dune is story of Duncan Idaho set against the backdrop of the Atreides Legend—at least, beyond the fourth book (God Emperor of Dune) this becomes relatively clear. It can certainly be difficult to express the importance of the Idaho character early on, especially against the backdrop of Paul Atreides' rise to power in the first Dune book, but surely one could do Duncan more justice than was offered him in 1984. A simple look at Lynch's Dune movie explains the decided lack of Idaho-centered action; it was a stand-alone film. This becomes apparent at the end of the movie, when any setup for the long-running transformation of Dune is tossed aside in favor of the god-like figure of Paul Atreides calling rain from the sky. In that respect (the respect of discarding the three books released between 1966 and 1983, the year the script was finished) it's understandable why Duncan was virtually cut: He only made a handful of appearances in the first novel, mostly serving to establish him as an intensely loyal and liked soldier of the Atreides, and his importance did not rise until his reintroduction in Dune: Messiah. But with Sir Patrick Stewart taking the ever-charismatic role of Gurney Halleck, surely one could over look the absence of Duncan Idaho.
Ironically, having watched and re-watched David Lynch's Dune, the only redeeming quality I found in the movie (which turns one toward dismay as the movie progresses) is in fact the presence of Sir Patrick Stewart. Stewart serves as one of the more memorable characters in Dune who wasn't an Atreides descendant or Duncan Idaho. This is what I want to keep, minus the pug; dear Denis Villeneuve, please cast Sir Patrick Stewart in an important role in Legendary Dune. Also, don't have him carry a pug into battle, because the only time in the Dune books that dogs were brought up... they were used as furniture. Maybe a pug-chair?
Further, as opposed to the desperate attempt to humanize the protagonist by giving him a dog, perhaps we could work on scripting and line delivery to have the characters come off as charismatic benevolent leaders. I say benevolent because "the baron" was not lacking in clear malevolence in Lynch's Dune... maybe villains are just easier? Also, it's one thing for Vladimir, Feyd, and Rabban (the baron and his nephews) to look similar, but the idea that the entirety of the Harkonnen army are red-headed suggests a degree of breeding control greater than even the Bene Gesserit in conjunction with Leto II could manage.
One thing I feel fairly safe about regarding this hopefully expansive forthcoming series is the special effects. As much as I have heard people complain about the micro-cut Marvel fights I can only assume that Villeneuve's Dune will forego the replacement of martial arts with... shout guns... and feature some excellent desert combat sequences. Heck, we might even get more than one set of scenes looped over each other. Maybe, just maybe, the small handful of scenes that feature shields will even have something that looks better than cardboard boxes.
All of this negativity only to say that I love Dune, and I pray that this new movie, which has already been discussed as a series, will make its way into the annals of cinematic history.