Dune is an epic love letter to classic science fiction – Reason.com

For Hollywood, it’s a golden age of intellectual property, that is, a golden age of adaptation. Apparently all of the beloved genre stories of the last century have been optioned and auctioned, put into development, and often produced with lavish budgets and production in the hopes that this old favorite will become the next. Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or, if you dream really big – and who in Hollywood isn’t? – Star Wars or Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hollywood hit-makers plunged the postwar canon of beloved teenage fantasies: if anyone in America has ever been obsessed with a story at the age of 12, it’s probably being turned into a movie or TV show right now.

If anything is missing from this bounty of adaptable IP, it’s classic science fiction. Although there have been scattered attempts to adapt the masters of the Golden Age – Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Pohl, Arthur C. Clarke – and their many literary successors in the half century since Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey, few of these efforts have had much impact. (Remember Will Smith I robot? That’s what I thought.)

It was a disappointment for me personally. As much as I love Batman and Han Solo and black-and-white zombie comics, and I’m really excited to finally see Iron Man bump into Spider-Man on the big screen, I grew up reading science fiction. classic and contemporary, which meant I grew up imagining worlds and stories that were largely absent from the movies.

Part of the problem is that these sci-fi stories tend to be difficult to adapt: ​​they operate at a level of scale and socio-scientific complexity that is difficult to adapt to the demands of a mainstream feature film format. , or even a TV series. Classic sci-fi is thoughtful, complex, idiosyncratic, and sprawling in a way that until now has largely resisted the treatment’s success on the big screen. The best are almost too big for the big screen.

Concrete example: that of Frank Herbert Dune. The 1965 novel was a trippy, anti-colonial, Middle Eastern, 188,000-word saga of pre-contemporary economics, politics, and environmentalism, in which long stretches circled the boardroom as discussions about supply chain logistics, industrial production, and obscure imperial rivalries between corporate families with long fictional histories. In addition, there were psychics, witches, sandworms the size of a skyscraper with Sarlaac-like orifices and a mixture of spices, a natural resource that propelled interstellar space travel, prolonged the life and expanded your mind. It was Laurence of Arabia, but in a future psychokinetic verse of giant mouth monsters where the oil was also LSD. How the hell do you put it all On the screen?

In the 1970s, director Alejandro Jodorowsky, a prominent supplier of hippie cinematic psychedelia, developed an adaptation that was never made. Later in the decade, some of Herbert’s ideas found their way into George Lucas’ Star Wars films, but in a more conventional, pulpy packaging. (The wobbly commercial disputes should wait for its prequels.)

In the 1980s, David Lynch, the bizarre dream magician behind Eraser head, brought the book to the screen in a sometimes interesting, largely inconsistent way, often cheap film which served above all to reinforce the difficulty of the project.

Today, 35 years later, Dune is back on the big screen thanks to director Denis The big budget adaptation of Villeneuve which, after nearly a year delay, is finally in theaters.

And so it is with a mixture of joy and relief that I want to tell you: Dune is the real deal. It’s a love letter to a sci-fi classic and, in a way, all sci-fi classics. It’s an uncompromising futuristic epic that works on a scale I’ve never seen before. I already bought tickets to see it again.

Villeneuve has already brought big ideas and colossal imagery to sci-fi cinema, with the two Arrival and Blade runner 2049, but his Dune is something even larger. More than anything, Villeneuve captures the breathtaking immensity of Herbert’s vision, the great magnificence of it all, from carrier ships and ornithopters to mondo-worms to toothy sands. Like everyone in Hollywood, Villeneuve dreamed big, but not in the sense of the number of spinoffs and prequels he could generate. There is an enormity of presence captured on the screen that is simply amazing to see.

Working with screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth, Villeneuve makes a few edits to the story, condensing the explanatory sequences and streamlining the subplots. But the film’s narrative is fundamentally faithful to the book; even the dialogue is often taken directly from its pages. It’s Villeneuve’s film, but it’s entirely Herbert’s Dune.

Compare that with the other major sci-fi adaptation currently underway for viewers, Foundation, on Apple TV +, based on the sci-fi classic by Isaac Asimov. As Dune, it is a complex tale of imperial intrigue, global culture shock and conflict between science, religion and the state, and as Dune, he often looks magnificent, although his reach is significantly smaller.

But unlike that of Villeneuve Dune, Foundation seems unable or unwilling to translate its sources directly. He doesn’t even really try to put Asimov’s book on screen.

Instead, it turns Asimov’s chatty, thoughtful accounts of political maneuvering and clever logical victories into a more conventional action epic that borrows a few names and narrative elements but owes nothing more to the source material. The 10-episode first season has several more episodes to go, so maybe it will eventually correct itself. But I don’t keep hope. It plays as an adaptation of a classic Golden Age sci-fi story which is hampered by all the elements that made it a Golden Age classic and therefore decided to make it another thing.

that of Villeneuve Dune, on the other hand, has no such shame about its source material. Rather, it seems expressly designed to show new and seasoned viewers what’s great about Herbert’s novel rather than trying to force it to be something it’s not.

If the new Dune One major flaw is that it only covers the first 60 percent or so of the book’s story, leaving an unsatisfactory non-conclusion. A sequel may be in the works, but its production will depend on how well that film performs – a risky proposition at all times, but especially during a pandemic that has severely depressed box office returns.

Hope we have another chapter. Dune deserves to be finished. But even if that’s all we get, I’ll gladly take it. that of Denis Villeneuve Dune is half a masterpiece in a long overlooked genre, and half a sci-fi masterpiece is far better than none at all.

Source link

About Donald P. Hooten

Check Also

Sci-Fi Movie: 83% of Businesses Think Technology Seen in Sci-Fi Movies Is Already Part of Their Lives or Soon Will Be: Report

Greek philosopher, Heraclitus had said, “Change is the only constant”, centuries ago. This quote remains …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *