TIFF 2021: Dune dir. Denis Villeneuve



THIS is the movie I saw in my mind’s eye when I first read Dune in 1984 when I was anticipating the Lynch film (which I love for its own reasons). The visual aesthetic, the sound and production design, the score (I swear Hans Zimmer isn’t the only one throwing a few nods to the ’84 cult film), the actors, everything is how I would want it to be. Or at least for the first part of the book.

It’s right there at the beginning of the film, Part 1, so I knew I wasn’t going to get everything out of the film (though between you and me Denis, I could have sat through your entire adaptation of the novel in one go). Still the film takes on the politics, the families, the religious overtones, the manipulations, and the characters, and brings them faithfully to the screen.

And it’s not only the big things, it’s the tiny things and their details; the crysknives, the walk, the shields, the Sardaukar, the visions, the tech. It feels like it should.

Young Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet – perfectly cast, Paul is supposed to be around 15 in the novel, and Chalamet while not 15, brings the youth needed to the character) lives on Caladan with his father, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) and mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). He has been having visions of Arrakis, and a young woman, Chani (Zendaya). The Atreides family has been ordered by the Emperor to relocate to Arrakis (also known as Dune) to take over the spice trade from the Harkonnen family, led by the corpulent and vile Baron (Stellan Skarsgard) and his nephew Rabban (Dave Bautista),

But this isn’t a gift, it’s all political maneuvering, thrown into this is Paul, who thanks to a breeding program seen over by the Bene Gesserit, a female religious order of which Jessica is a part, may by The One, a messiah known as the Kwisatz Haderach.

The first film covers the family arriving on Arrakis, and attempting to reach an accord with the desert dwelling fremen, as they harvest the addictive spice melange for export.

But politics, betrayals, and conflict, are going to send Paul on a unique journey, which prepares to begin as the film draws to its close.

It’s a beautiful film, gorgeous to watch, makes fantastic use of the IMAX camera. This is a big screen event, and while a newcomer will really have to pay attention, fans of the novels will see things they have long to see portrayed, characters brought to life (the cast also includes Jason Momoa, Charlotte Rampling, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem), technology, and, of course, the stunning VFX that helps bring the worlds of 10,191 to life, including Shai-hulud, the great desert worm of Arrakis.

Beautiful. Powerful. Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune is cinematic magic and has been worth the wait.

Dune screens tonight, tomorrow, and next Saturday here at TIFF!

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