“Why yes, I do have the foggiest”

Did De Villeneuve read Dune?

May 09, 2024

Perhaps inspired by De Villeneuve's newest attempt at making movies out of the Dune books, I recently started re-reading them and still think especially the first book to be one of the greatest science fiction books ever. I am not alone in this, the book has won multiple awards, such as But to understand them, there are a few key elements to its story, you need to keep in mind when re-telling it.

The Bene Gesserit, the ancient order of women, has, over the past the millennia, been secretly planting religions among backward people, throughout the universe, like the Fremen. They left one of their priests there to oversee and steer the development of the religion. The Fremen are very good at surviving with tiny amounts of water, but they are an isolated people. For a younger generation to develop sepsis of this religion makes little sense, and only serves to make Chani a more lovable character.

The Fremen have no concept of monogamy. Arranged marriages are as common among them as they are among the nobility. For example, when Paul and Jessica first joined Stilgar's tribe, Paul had to duel Jamis. After he killed him, Jamis' wife and kids became his. Considering customs like that, Chani should not have reacted with jealousy on Paul's proposal to marry Irulan. In fact, considering Paul's heritage, she should have expected it. For the film to portray her as rightly jealous either missed or ignored this altogether.

One primary story element is almost absent in the film. The film is long enough as it is, so perhaps that is why, but it will become a problem in the sequels. Paul has been trained by his mother in Bene Genesserit techniques. These, combined with his unique genes, give him the ability to see into the past as well as the future. In this future he sees, he will be causing a lot of violence and misery, and he is constantly trying to find ways of preventing that. At some point, his premonitions dry up as it were, and that is why, against the advice of everybody around him, he drinks the holy water, hoping it will bring back his premonitions. He barely survives it. In the film, everybody seems to suspect him to have a sip of it as soon as he sees it, without explaining why this is. Especially in the third book, these premonitions will become much more important, but I'm afraid, in the movies, they will come out of nowhere.

The reason the emperor lent the Harkonnnen his army to defeat the Atreides was that Leto Atreides had become so popular among the nobility, he had become a threat. The reason he did it secretly was that he expected the nobility to revolt against him if they found out he had used his powerful Sardaukar against one of them. For the emperor to tell Paul he killed his father for his weakness makes me think De Villeneuve simply didn't grasp this plot or he thought his audience wouldn't.

With my copy of the Dune book series, there were some interviews with Frank Herbert, which explain he wrote these books as a multi-layered story which flawed characters, each with their own motivation, about how power always corrupts and how important it is to handle limited resources, like water, responsibly. Both are themes that are currently rather important, but De Villeneuve ignored those, took the first book and made it into a simple hero falls in love and conquers the bad guys story with awesome visuals.

Categories: review

Tags: film, dune

CC-BY-SA 2006-2024