The following story contains spoilers for Dune (2021) and the original 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name.
Director Denis Villeneuve did something remarkable with Dune, his 10th film and his sixth in English. The 2021 version is the last adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel by author Frank Herbert in 1965, following a discontinued adaptation by Alejandro Jodorowsky, a truncated take directed by David Lynch in 1984, and a SyFy 2000 miniseries on the go. budget. adaptation to written work yet. Villeneuve’s film makes visual images that you may have thought you could not imagine in your head working on a grand and majestic scale. The director said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine that his film was “about the book, the book, the book,” and this is never more evident than by looking at its final product.
And the reality of Villeneuve Dune is that just about every sequence, every interaction, every scene, feels taken from Herbert’s original text. It’s extra rich, of course, with the director of movies like Arrival, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049, and Prisoners merging this text with his vision, but everything seems faithful to the book.
The thing, however, is that while Dune is a feature film — 2 hours and 35 minutes — it wasn’t going to be a 5 hour feature film. It would have been impossible for all of the key scenes in the first half of the book (which are all the covers of the film) to be all, and that meant a few scenes, threads, and memorable moments from the book still weren’t in the movie, despite its director preaching total loyalty. It’s all part of the equation, of course, but when you know a book what is left out can be just as obvious as what is vividly. here.
Now, before I dive too deep into all of this, I should divulge a few important details: I’m a new Dune fan, making my way through a very first reading of the now 56-year-old novel. But I have passed all that is described in Dune (Villeneuve’s film in 2021), and I’m now in the back, just to get a feel for what will be in the (I officially hope to get the green light soon) Dune continued in the years to come.
Here are the biggest changes / omissions from Frank Herbert’s original novel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.
The scene from the novel that I most wanted to see on the big screen was a memorable sequence that fans call the “dinner” sequence. In this tangent of history, the Atreides family are hosting a dinner party that features smugglers, politicians, and all manner of galactic characters as guests. The film comes closest to this when Stilgar, the frontman Freman played by Javier Bardem, spits in front of Duke Leto; in the novel, it takes place at the start of dinner.
But what the film misses by not including dinner is a key development from Paul, Leto, and Liet-Kynes (while also featuring Jessica’s internal monologue). When Leto, now chief of Arrakis, learns of the existence of a traditional practice of pouring excess water on the ground during these aristocratic events, he orders it to end for good. He takes a risky line, but this show of indulgence is cruel and shows that he is a leader who is truly determined to do the right thing. It also reinforces the class divide between the rich and the rich, and everyone else, in Arrakis.
At one point during that dinner, Leto leaves and Paul – until then just seen as a boy – takes over as host. This is when Jessica notices that her son may be calmer and more ready to lead than she suspected. Dinner is also a key development in the thinking of Liet-Kynes (who in the novel is a man), who until now was distant with the Atreids, but after the earlier spice race had turned around in especially when you think of Duke Leto, and how an honorable, if not doomed, leader he is.
Unconfirmed rumors suggested the dinner scene was filmed, but did not make the film’s final cut. HBO Max Dune Director’s cut (or at least let’s see some deleted scenes) when ???
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The subplot and suspicions of the “traitor”
Again, with an 800 page book, it’s hard to fit everything into the adaptation. And one place where the movement cuts a bit is the character development of Dr. Yueh, who is only a tangential character in Villeneuve’s film at best. Dune before being revealed as a traitor, putting Duke Leto with a poison-filled tooth, and then getting himself murdered by the Harkonnens himself.
In the book, Yueh is, indeed, the traitor, but he hates the Harkonnens as much as anyone else; his wife, a woman named Wanna, is under their control and he sees this betrayal as his only way out. He has scenes with Jessica where the two show confidence; he is a strong character in the first part of the book.
After Paul is attacked by a Hunter-Seeker (who Is be part of the 2021 film) suspicion around the Atreides house is growing that there is a traitor among them. Duke Leto never really suspects Jessica, but Hawat does. The two have a very memorable showdown, and Hawat sees Jessica’s Bene Gesserit powers up close and personal. It’s a streak that would have been great to see in the movie, but it seems to have landed on the editing room floor in favor of keeping the movie going.
Development of some characters
Villeneuve explained that he wanted to stay focused on his first Dune just on Paul and Jessica. “The way we adapted that was first of all we took Paul and Jessica’s point of view and tried to stay as close as possible to these two characters,” he said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “Then we tried to develop ideas that would allow us to to feel what is their state of mind without having a voiceover. “
By keeping this focus on these two tracks, several others fell through. This meant that the film’s chief villain, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, was much darker and menacingly seated in the film (where in the novel he rarely speaks), while the Lies (Duneversion of human computers), both saw their roles reduced.
Piter De Vries’ version of the novel (played here by David Dastmalchian) is the Baron’s right-hand man, helping him plan his militaristic takeover and ambush against Arrakis. Piter, in the book, should eventually take over Arrakis and lust after Lady Jessica. When the Duke bites into his poisoned tooth and kills most of the Harkonnen, you’re disappointed that he didn’t have the Baron, but a natural thought “at least he got Piter” follows. With a lack of development, it’s not quite there.
But Villeneuve has made it clear that there are characters he is keeping to use them more for his next outing. Perhaps that could include Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and Beast Rabban Harkonnen (Dave Bautista), which were cut down in the first film. “There are some less developed characters that I’m keeping for the second movie, that’s how I found the balance,” the director said. “We tried in this film to stay as close as possible to Paul’s experience. Then, in the second, I will have time to develop characters that are a little left out. This is the theory. Hope this will work.
Duncan Idaho’s fate
Maybe this one is just reading and creating pictures in your own mind versus actually seeing something on the screen. But when Duncan Idaho takes on the Sardaukar in Herbert’s novel, you get the involvement that he died the same way you do in the movie – Jessica saying he’s gone. But it’s not clear from the book (and the movie, for that matter) if Jessica is just saying that to get the party moving, or if she actually feels a difference.
The difference in the movie, however, is that we see Duncan takes what we must presume to be his last breath. He holds up well enough, but the Jason Momoa version of Duncan Idaho could only fight like a demon for so long.
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