Denis Villeneuve’s latest film, Dune, adapted from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic novel Dune, is an exclusive theatre experience that will save you the boredom it carries within.
With the theatres reopening after so long a break, audiences around the world were in dire need of a visual spectacle that would give them an out-of-the-world experience and at the same time bring back to them the much-needed theatre-going delirium. And Denis Villeneuve’s Dune serves that purpose. But to what end?
As far as a theatre experience is concerned, Dune is a must. From cinematography (Greig Fraser) to production design (Patrice Vermette) to music (Hans Zimmer), Dune nails in all aspects of a larger-than-life film. Now, for those who have seen David Lynch’s Dune (1984) or haven’t, this movie might seem too prolonged. The reason for this appears to be the screenplay (Eric Roth, Denis Villeneuve, and Frank Herbert). But again, given how much depth multiple characters have been given, it does make sense.
The two main characters in the movie are Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamat) and Lady Jessica (Jessica Ferguson). For both these characters, Villeneuve tries to capture the emotions and reactions to add to the layers of their character arcs. Expressions play a vital role in Villeneuve’s films, which call for a close-up shot of a character time and again in any event in the storyline. And since Dune had Paul having these visions, his face was captured and portrayed more personally than anyone could expect from a sci-fi movie. And not just Paul, every other character, be it Lady Jessica as she wait outside as Gom Jabbar speaks to her son, be it Leto Atreides when he assures Stilgar that he meant no harm to the Fremen or be it Stilgar’s reply to him, whenever he or she is talking or reacting to something, is given a close-up shot to add to the same personal effect.
Character exploration is seen in a new way. We don’t know more about the characters than we need to, but their representation makes their arcs crystal-clear. Credit for this goes to makeup artist Donald Mowat and his team, and costume designers Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan and their team. Whether Lady Rebecca’s calm elegance that seems to hide an enormous storm underneath or the terrifying sadistic Baron Harkonnen, their costumes and makeup subtly add to these aspects. While we mention only these two, every character falls under this umbrella, be it Leto Atreides, Gurney Halleck, or Liet-Kynes.
As evident in his previous movies like Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and The Arrival (2016), large-scale landscapes are a part of Villeneuve’s creations in which action takes place. In Dune, he takes this aspect to a whole new level. Visual sensibility is a must for Villeneuve, whether the ornithopters resemble dragonflies or the giant spaceships that hover in the mist or the different worlds in the interstellar space or the explosive action sequences. And thanks to visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert and his team, all of these expansive, immersive worlds feel so real. The same goes with the intimate scenes, for example, the samurai-style swordplay between Gurney and Paul, the inner voice of Paul and his mother Jessica, and Paul’s apparent divinity as Mahdi, a prophet who has the Lisan al-Gaib or the “the Voice from the Outer World” among many others.
From the audience’s POV, they might leave the theatre in want for more. More could have happened, or less could have been shown, the movie could have been shorter; basically, some “spice” was missing. While the expansive worlds do their bit to immerse the audience, the screenplay could have been better in terms of stressing emotional portrayal. Too much drag in exploring Paul’s thoughts seems to have been provided with the most significant chunk of it. But some may find it compensate for the story that revolves around Paul himself. Be that as it may, Denis Villeneuve made Dune for a theatre experience, and that’s how it serves its purpose.
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Dune is a 2021 Epic Sci-Fi Thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve.