Let me start off describing my personal experience watching Dune. My husband came home from a business trip where he watched Dune on his phone on a plane and was raving about how great it was. First, I condemned him for watching it on his phone, I’m sure Denis Villeneuve’s vision cannot be properly appreciated on a four inch screen and with turbulence. Second, my husband insisted we watch that film together that night, after a full day with the kids and our youngest fighting bedtime. We didn’t start the film until after 9 pm. I promptly fell asleep, chalked it up to a long day and promised to give it a good try the next evening. I fell asleep again the next evening. On the third evening I finally stayed awake for the film and while I found the visuals very cool, overall I was unimpressed. Fast forward to Oscar season and I knew I needed to give Dune a fair watch all in one sitting. Knowing my record, I armed myself with coffee, a sweet snack and watched it in the middle of the afternoon. I still fell asleep about three quarters in, while the dragonfly-helicopter was about to crash! However, I got a better understanding and appreciation of this film. But I do wonder, did anyone else have a similar narcoleptic response to Dune?
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is based on the sci-fi classic novel by Frank Herbert. It’s partially a tale of imperialism where people want to control the planet Arrakis so they can harvest spice on the desert planet. Spice is like fuel and makes space travel possible. Then there are ideas of destiny and inheriting power. Paul (Timothée Chalamet) has two birthrights to earn. His father (Oscar Isaac) is Duke of House Atreides, ruler of Caladan, and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) is part of a mystical sisterhood. Through his father he’ll gain traditional, political power. Through his mother he is learning The Voice, an otherworldly power. And on his own, Paul must grapple with his visions and gain the trust of the Fremen, if he is to survive in the wild desert.
The out of this world style and visual effects are where Dune excels. I loved the array of costumes from sleek uniforms, tactical military gear, bulbous helmets, mysterious cloaks and wind-whipped flowing gowns. While the space ships are not in the forefront of this sci-fi film, they make an impact. They are colossal, often a mix of organic and futuristic. Watching these massive monolithic ships emerge from the water is impressive. And I especially liked the dragonfly-like helicopters.
Dune is currently nominated for an impressive ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, visual effects, sound, film editing, production design, cinematography, screenplay, costume design, and makeup and hairstyling. And Hans Zimmer is nominated for his hypnotic original score, his twelfth nomination.
I want to apologise for falling asleep so many times while trying to appreciate this film. Perhaps it’s the subdued cinematography, everything is earth tones and not very bright. Maybe it’s the ethereal music, it can be very zen and relaxing. Perhaps I’m just not the target audience for Dune, I’ve never read the book and simply did not get into the story. However I did love the stunning visuals and I would bet money on Hans Zimmer winning an Oscar for his brilliant score.
“An animal caught in a trap will gnaw off its own leg to escape. What will you do?”