Danny Villeneuve’s glorious hostility to Frank Herbert’s science fiction classics wants to feel as alien as possible.
Photo: Warner Bros.
Sandworms, a corporate creation of Frank Herbert Dune series, these are colossal creatures that live in the deserts of the planet Arrakis, which worms travel the way a shark can pass through water. Their dominance over the land makes them take turns appreciating and fearing the different people who also live there, producing life in an irreconcilable neighborhood. Worms are attracted to everything on the sand, able to feel the vibration from afar, and go out -under their goals, the earth gives way to a gaping mouth for anyone lucky enough to be in this area. When David Lynch directed his ominous adaptation of the 1984 original 1965 novel, he gave his sandworms a mouthful of many lobes that opened like horrible flowers, much like it was in the illustrations to John Schencher’s jacket. It’s a surefire way to make the anatomy look sinister – even if it looks like a toothy vulva – but it’s not an approach that Danny Villeneuve repeats in his own luxurious and amazing new idea of Herbert’s source material.
The sandworms of Villeneuve, like many details of his new film, seek to get into the real otherworldly and from a different context. They have tunnel qualities that are organic only in the sense that the microscopic organisms that turn out to be nightmarish fuels when brought together are still organic, suddenly ending in circular jaws, constantly open and surrounded by a filter of rows of needle teeth. If Paul Atredes (Timothy Shalamet), Dunea reluctant messiah figure confronted by one after escaping into the desert, the worm lifts his massive legs from the drifts right in front of him, and he stares into his invisible face at a moment that must be electric with the monstrous grandeur of this utterly alien life form. But looking into this soundless hole with cramped interiors peeking into its shady depths, you may also think that the reinterpreted worm has left its old vaginal toothed influences behind just to resemble a giant asshole.
The human imagination is not as limitless as we like to pretend, and it’s funny how often, trying to go beyond the known, we just go back to our personal. It’s the challenge of science fiction – to create a true sense of distance and otherness when much of the story rests on the call of an acquaintance. This is a challenge Dune accepts with admiration and perhaps doomed to determination, making Herbert’s rival intergalactic aristocrats and space witches on an exciting, gloriously unfriendly scale. Herbert himself did not build his world from scratch: a showdown over Arrakis, the only source of a substance called spice that is important for interstellar travel, underlies what is mostly written about oil wars. And Dune has the outlines of a space opera with its sand monsters and disgusting villains and subtle princes destined to meet literally the woman of this dream-chan, a native of Freemasonry, performed by Zendei, who will probably get more done if the sequel actually happens – and lead to a better future. But Villeneuve is not interested in a fascinating romantic adventure in which there are science fiction paraphernalia.
His 2016 film Arrival about trying to communicate with aliens who feel the existence is completely different from us, and Dune seeks to reflect the distant future of humanity, in which the footprints of a friend-bagpipes played at the ceremony, the ancestor’s propensity to fight bulls — simply ultimately underscore how far away the desires and motivations of the characters can be. They are not entirely inexplicable: Oscar Isaac plays Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atrides, as a caring but kind ruler who knows he is being trapped when asked to take on Arrakis. Leto’s reliable military advisers, Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) and Gurney Halek (Josh Brolin), serve Paul as a loving old brother and strict uncle, while Paul’s mother and Lady Jessica’s summer concubine, Rebecca Ferguson embraces the woman’s incarnation. and preparing him for imminent danger. But Jessica is also a loyal member of the Bene Gesserit, a matriarchal order of psychics who manipulate politics by crafting an incomprehensible centuries-old breeding program to create a Kwisatz Haderach-messiah who may or may not be Paul.
The boldest aspect Dune it’s not that he’s only telling half the story, or that he prefers to immerse his audience in his richly represented universe, believing they can keep up with the ropes. He is carried quite far from the power of the spectacle, his spaceships hanging impossible in the air, his drummed scores by Hans Zimmer and his pale antagonist, Baron Vladimir Harkonen (Stellan Skarsgård, who commands Colonel Marlon Brand Kurtz), who floats around on a heavy amplifier threatening ball. No, the boldest aspect Dune how disturbing the idea of the chosen one is, from a military ceremony inspired by Leni Riefenstahl, during which Leto and Paul are commissioned to care for Arakis, to the fact that Paul is a product of eugenics. It begins with Chani speaking aloud about the colonization of the land of the Fremen and the oppression they felt at the hands of outsiders, and then moves on to the white savior, whose greatness is completely synthetic, created by implanted prophecies and genetic manipulations. Paul’s reluctance to get into the role created for him is not an ordinary self-doubt, but the fear of a man who begins to believe that he intends to start a holy war. Being the hero of the story has never looked so poisoned, and only this is admirable to hope that Villeneuve will be able to accomplish the second part of this impressive work.