Thirty-seven years after David Lynch’s 1984 cult classic “Dune” was released into the science fiction universe, director Denis Villeneuve fulfilled his childhood dream of creating the remake. The 2021 version of “Dune” hit theaters on Oct. 22, following the same premise as the anthology book series by Frank Herbert. The film’s revival has attracted a younger audience with its starring actors, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Oscar Issac.
Set in the year 10191, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is expected to uphold his family dynasty by maintaining its power intergalactically. The family’s strategy is to dominate the spice trade which controls all interstellar travel. The spice, Melange, is only found on the desert planet Arrakis, and the Atreides’ motive is to monopolize the spice market.
Throughout the film, Paul is tormented by dreams of a mysterious girl who tells him to come to Arrakis. In these intense visions, the girl leads him to the native Arrakis people, the Fremen. The Fremen live in tribes along the desert of Arrakis and have created unique technology that preserves valued resources such as water, allowing them to live in the harsh conditions. In the visions, Paul is welcomed into the community and seems to have become one of the Fremen, as he wears the same heat-resistant “stillsuits” that are the common apparel of the Fremen.
After the visions, the Atreides’ palace is completely destroyed by the Padishah Empire, who also aspire to control the spice trade. Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), barely escape. They travel across beautifully shot landscapes of the expansive desert and rolling sand dunes. They hope to find the Fremen since the they will provide protection and desert survival skills.
During the film, I was constantly fascinated by the sometimes overwhelming yet exhilarating soundtrack. With heavy brass instruments and a slow, dragging tempo, the soundtrack left me completely immersed in the thrilling scenes of Paul and Lady Jesscia trying to survive in the dunes. Along with the music, the cinematography in “Dune” further enhances the experience. I was immediately drawn in with the opening panoramic scene of the expansive, towering sand dunes. In the Gom Jabbar scene, the camera pans quickly in and out, and this use of short and specific camera angles works to imitate the feeling of narcolepsy that The Voice, a control mechanism through speech, causes.
The acting in “Dune” is unmatched to any sci-fi movie I have ever seen. Chalamet emulates Paul with great confidence, and the audience watches Paul develop into a strong leader throughout the movie. Chalamet is not the only actor with an impressive performance during “Dune,” though; Chalamet’s co-star, Ferguson, shares a significant amount of screentime with him, and her performance is breathtaking. Ferguson shows her ta
lent within the Gom Jabbar scene as her character breaks down and starts to cry as she realizes she can not help Paul. Overall, one actor does not outshine another and their talents are able to blend together on screen.
While watching the movie was an entertaining experience, I was disappointed with the little screen time given to Zendaya. She was a prevalent part of the marketing for the movie, but most of her scenes in the film were Chani staring into the abyss of “Dune” and wandering barefoot in the sand. This is understandable though since her character was said to not have importance until the second part of “Dune.”
Villeneuve’s “Dune” represents how far sci-fi movies have come and how technology has allowed these blockbuster films to become more entertaining for viewers than ever before. Hopefully, this will bring in a new generation of sci-fi lovers and will help launch the genre back into popularity as the novel did in 1965. If you would like to be on the edge of your seat and feel a sudden urge to go pick up the novel’s second book to find out what happens next, “Dune” is currently showing at Fairfax Theatre, Century Larkspur Landing and Century Northgate 15.