Denis Villeneuve’s Dune movie ends “abruptly”


Dune was one of the most anticipated movies of 2020, and after a pandemic-mandated delay, it’s now one of the most anticipated of 2021. Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 sci-fi novel has been adapted to the screen before, by David Lynch in 1984 and the Sci Fi Channel in 2000, but there was always something missing. This time, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve is bringing his considerable skill to bear on the project, and Warner Bros. has given him the budget the story deserves, so hopes are high.

YouTube channel Secrets of Dune talked to someone who saw the movie to get their impressions, and Dune News Net has the transcription. This particular viewer has read Herbert’s book and seen the adaptations, so they came at Villeneuve’s movie with a fan’s perspective, and walked away impressed.

“Make no mistake. Dune was DONE when I saw it,” the fan said. “I can’t see anything needing to be changed and if they do, I assure you it would be a bad call to do so. I hope the studio took the feedback to heart.”

"I was in complete awe, and more than a little sadness, mostly because now I’ve seen Dune and had no one to talk about it with. Worse than that the release date hadn’t been finalized, and not only was I ready to see it again, immediately (and still am), but I’m primed to see the sequel and there MUST be a sequel."

How long is the running time for Dune?

The issue of a sequel is a potentially touchy one, but we’ll get to that later. For now, here’s how the fan describes the movie’s running time:

"I have to say that the film is roughly 2.5 hours. It’s hard to gauge, they took everyone’s cell phones before we entered, and I don’t wear a watch. And we sat there for some time before they even started the movie. As you can imagine, that time goes VERY slow. It is a long movie, but it doesn’t feel shorter than [Blade Runner 2049] did lengthwise."

Dune is a dense book and Herbert a very deliberate writer, so I’m not surprised to hear that the movie takes its time; that feels like the right approach.

Why did Dune change “jihad” to “crusade”?

Secrets of Dune also asked the fan about the Arabic influences on the movie. Dune takes place mainly on a planet called Arrakis, a desert world populated by indigenous people known as the Fremen. Herbert took a lot of cues from Middle Eastern and Islamic culture and history when creating his far future universe, and it makes sense to wonder how much of that makes it into Villeneuve’s vision.

"As a Caucasian American, I’d be lying if I said recognizing Arabic themes is something that I am particularly in-tune with. That being said, the imagery in this film definitely echoes the common perception of what an American may construe as reflections of an Arabic culture via the Fremen. This film though, is slowly paced (not a bad thing at all) and spends a great deal of time before we get to Arrakis, and we see very little of the Fremen. So I imagine that should (hopefully) a sequel be made…Arabic themes may be more prevalent in that film than this one."

Fans have noticed that one particular instance of Arabic language that seems to have been dropped from Herbert’s book. In Dune, lead character Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) has visions of a deadly “jihad” spreading out over the known universe. Jihad is an Arabic word that literally means “striving” or “struggling.” It has a very long history, but in recent western history has come to be associated with violent extremism, which I’m guessing is why the movie seems to have changed it to “crusade,” as seen in the trailer:

The word “crusade” has its own baggage, incidentally, but let’s get on too much of an etymological tangent.

Jason Momoa steals the show in Dune

Instead, let’s get into  the performances from the very impressive cast. The fan was “blown away” by Chalamet’s screen presence, and thought that Jason Momoa stole the show as House Atreides swordmaster Duncan Idaho. “I had zero expectations of him as Duncan and he’s now my favorite rendition of the character.”

Stellan Skarsgård also left an impression as the villainous Baron Harkonnen. The fan compares him to Marlon Brando’s iconic performance as Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now. “That’s the vibe that I’m getting from this version of the Baron. While still large, he isn’t as grotesque as Baron in Lynch’s film, but he’s VERY imposing, VERY menacing and as calculating and merciless as you’d expect.”

Will Dune get the sequel it needs?

Okay, let’s circle back around to that sequel talk. This Dune movie only adapts the first half of Herbert’s book. Like the fan said, we don’t get to Arrakis until a while into the movie, and don’t see a ton of the Fremen. “Absolutely NO ONE rides a sandworm, although it is teased,” the fan revealed. And we don’t see the Baron’s wicked nephew Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen at all.

That also means we don’t see a ton of Chani (Zendaya), a Fremen woman who becomes Paul’s love interest, since she plays more of a role in the second half. “She appears as visions to Paul, and then shows up towards the end of the film,” the fan said. “It’s quite clear her role will be developed more in the sequel. You wouldn’t cast someone like Zendaya to do so little in the film.”

Likewise, we don’t see a ton of the planet’s iconic sandworms, although what we do see leaves a mark. “The sandworms in this version almost make the Lynch film’s look like playthings in scale and comparison,” the fan said. “That said, they are CGI, but incredibly convincing CGI. You don’t get to see much of them until towards the final third of the film, but they leave an incredible impression.”

So where exactly does the film end? According to the fan, it closes after Paul duels a Freman man named Jamis, which in the books happens after he and his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) must flee into the desert in exile. The fight against Jamis marks the point where Paul and his mother are officially accepted as Fremen and occurs not long before a two-year time jump, so it seems like a pretty good time to stop.

That said, I don’t love that the fan says he was “surprised by how abruptly the film ends.” More and more, this movie seems like it absolutely needs a sequel if it’s going to effectively tell the story, and unfortunately that doesn’t seem like a sure thing. Nothing’s been announced, and Villeneuve seemed pretty put out back when WarnerMedia announced that all of its 2021 movies would be coming out on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time. “Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise,” he said at the time. He’s also said he wants to do something “small” after Dune, which implies that he won’t be directing a sequel, at least not immediately.

All of this makes me pretty nervous. Hopefully everything will work out and we’ll get the whole story sooner rather than later. And if they’re a hit, there are lots of Dune books to look into after that, but I sincerely hope we don’t just get the first half of a great movie and are left wondering what could have been.

Unless there’s another twist in the story, Dune will come out in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1.

Pierce Brosnan’s cover model son got to see Dune early, and he liked it. dark. Next

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