Dune: Villeneuve and Co. ‘Let the Spice Flow’

Maggie Turner , Features Editor

With movie theaters finally opening for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, I and many others finally returned for the highly anticipated debut of Dune, directed by Denis Villnueve, adapted from the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. After being delayed more than a year from the pandemic, Dune is the perfect movie to open up movie theaters with.  

Dune revolves around the character Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, whose family has been chosen to overlook the planet Arrakis for production of the highly valuable spice. Atreidies grapples with coming of age and newfound responsibility, while also controlling strange dreams about an unknown woman, played by none other than Zendaya.

 The vast environment Dune creates is a force to be reckoned with. Instead of utilizing green screens, Villneuve chose to shoot the film entirely in location, bringing his cast and crew up to Abu-Dhabi and Jordan in spring of 2019. Viewers are transported to another world, where skyscraper-size sandworms swallow up societies and valuable spice turns people’s eyes blue.

 Cinematographer Greg Frasier captures the audience’s attention using a wide scope of perspective, by bringing the camera miles above the desert overlooking characters, to close-ups of Chalamet in action. 

While the film succeeds in its atmosphere, its acting is on another level. Chalamet is perfectly cast, and displays his capability to carry a movie and future franchise. He explains his responsibility to upholding the story, saying “When you have a connection to source material like this book, and when it’s so formative to people’s youths — like Denis, but many people I have talked to, whether it’s on the subway in New York or people that have stopped me in the street that want to talk about it — you don’t want to get that wrong.” Becoming a leading star, Chalamet expresses how he felt obligated to make the role and story worthwhile – and why staying true to the original novel is so important. Another acting standout is Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Paul’s mother. While most supporting characters do not hold a strong storyline throughout the film, Ferguson acts as the rock to Paul’s journey, giving him support through his war against the despotic Harkonnens. Her performance adds a depth to the identity of Paul and how her character is carried through him. Both Chalamet and Ferguson have on-screen chemistry that will keep you invested in the story, even with its massive 155 minute runtime.

Dune isn’t just a normal science-fiction book adaptation – it’s so much more, and could turn into this generation’s Star Wars. Dune represents the battle against imperialism, coming of age, and the power of fear. The highly desired spice represents untapped power and life for society. While international powers use it to fuel space travel, Arrakis’ nomadic Freman utilize it for higher thinking and mental transcendence. When we break down Dune, what is left is the human impulse to conquer and prevail, represented by the different groups set out to gain the spice. 

Whether it’s impressive acting, powerful storytelling, or skillful production, Dune checks all boxes.