Dune: Does it Live up to the Book?

Sage Ye, Managing editor of Showcase

56 years after the novel was first published, the movie, Dune, hit theaters worldwide this last month. Directed by Dennis Villanueve, Dune is the second live action adaptation of the original book of the same name written by Frank Herbert back in 1965. Herbert’s Dune is held by many as the pinnacle of science fiction books.

Villanueve’s Dune is naturally ambitious, with a star studded cast consisting of names like Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and Timothee Chalamet. It retells Herberts’ classic story of Dune: House Atreides, the house which our protagonist Paul Atreides belongs to, has been set to oversee the production of spice melange on the desert planet arrakis. The spice grants a prolonged life and vitality, which makes it very sought after. Paul, played by Chalamet, finds that this position has put his house in danger, and faces the many challenges to come.

Dune is the first movie of a story divided into two parts, a decision which has paid off. This has given the movie the space to focus on many details in the plot, including expansive world building and artistic, drawn out scenes that convey a deeper meaning. Dune is filled with moments like that grasp the audience through its impressive visual and audio interpretations of Herbert’s book.

One of Dune’s greatest criticisms is that the plot is confusing. This is in no part the fault of the movie’s direction, but due to Herbert’s tendency to throw around many made up words to describe events, factions, and ideas in his original work. This was Herbert’s way of making the world of Dune entirely new and original, which is made harder to convey through the big screen.

All in all, Dune is a movie that any self proclaimed fan of science fiction should check out. While it might be confusing or drag out from time to time, it all pays off with amazing world building, emotional delivery from actors, and moments of grandeur for the audience to take in. While it falls short in some areas, it’s still able to live up to Herbert’s original masterpiece.

The promotional poster for Dune
Credits: Warner Bros