~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp ~
Frank Herbert’s famous science fiction novel, Dune, was first published in 1965. It is a long book, over 700 pages, a difficult and rather tedious book to read. Dune is now a long movie (two hours and forty minutes), and this is only Part One. Part Two will be along at some future time. We’ll be watching for it.
Dune, the movie, is a serious science fiction film, meaning that it’s for the thinking grown-ups in the audience and requires a lot of attention to keep track of what’s going on, what just happened, and what’s going to happen next. The main character is a boy-man named Paul Atreides (a grown man but still rather like a boy). He is the son of a government leader Duke Leto Atreides and Duke Leto’s “concubine,” a woman called Lady Jessica. They live on an alien (to us) planet called Caladan. Lady Jessica has been teaching Paul the special powers of the religious order to which she belongs called the Bene Gesserit. Paul has been having dreams that might or might not be visions involving the planet called Arrakis. Do these dreams/visions mean that he has a unique destiny among his people?
Arrakis is important to the people of Caladan because a valuable spice, mélange, is found only there. Mélange extends life and perception. It is also necessary for instantaneous interstellar space travel between planets.
Arrakis is a desert planet, a very inhospitable place. A race of people called the Fremen live on Arrakis. The Fremen must share their planet with gigantic and deadly “sand worms.” The cruel Harkonnens control Arrakis. The Fremen have been trying to expel the Harkonnens from Arrakis for a long time, but without success. Unexpectedly, the Emperor has ordered the Harkonnens to leave Arrakis and has awarded control of the planet to the House of Atreides. The Emperor has set up a conflict between House Atreides and House Harkonnen, to force them into a war that will weaken both of them and benefit himself. Duke Leto Atreides wants to strike an alliance with the Fremen to harness their “desert power” to outwit the Emperor.
Paul Atreides travels to Arrakis with his mother and father. When a crowd of Fremen gathers to witness their arrival, they begin chanting a phrase that Paul doesn’t recognize. Lady Jessica explains to Paul that it’s a local prophecy of the Lisan-al-Gaib, the “voice from outer world,” a prophesied Messiah on Arrakis. Will it be revealed that Paul Atreides is the long-awaited Messiah?
The Harkonnens are not going to easily give up control of Arrakis to House Atreides. They sabotage House Atreides at every turn. The Emperor’s wish of war between the two houses is being fulfilled. Paul Atreides and his family are in for some difficult times. Paul, at the end of the movie, is told what has happened to him so far is “only the beginning.”
Dune is weighty science-fiction/fantasy, much more in the vein of The Lord of the Rings than Star Wars. I wouldn’t take my eight-year-old son to see it, if I had an eight-year-old son. He wouldn’t understand it and the sand worms would cause him to have nightmares.
Copyright © 2022 by Allen Kopp