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Review of _Dune: Part One_

My first encounter with Dune was reading the Frank Herbert novel in high school. From there I read his Dune sequels and some of his other novels. (If you are curious, I quite liked Destination: Void, The Dosadi Experiment and The White Plague.) I even started one of the Dune sequels written by his son, which illustrates what rare gifts his father possessed. The elder Herbert mastered the art of epic mystery. He reveals just enough about the vast universe he's constructed to make it believable without letting the reader suspect that it's entirely imaginary.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

It’s more or less impossible for me to predict how people who haven’t read (and enjoyed) the novel. My guess would be this film doesn’t explain enough for people who haven’t internalized the plot before watching.

That was my first thought, but now I think we were wrong, which to me is the most impressive aspect of the movie.

As my mind filled in book details in the theater, I was thinking, “The poor non-readers must be lost.”

Later, I talked to a friend for an hour about why he loved the movie and quizzed him on plot details. He might not have known what the difference between “Kwisatz Haderach” and “Lisan Al Gaib”, but he knew both the Bene Gesserit and Fremen think Paul might be a “Chosen One”. He knew more or less what Paul’s visions of jihad mean (probably about as much as you know halfway through the first book). Things I missed like the banquet scene or Dr. Yueh character development weren’t a problem for him.

After talking it through and rewatching, I think Villaneuve’s version of the story works on its own, and is just richer for having the book undergirding. Quite a feat, and even more amazing for a story considered unfilmable.

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That’s pretty encouraging! The host of one of the podcasts I listen to mentioned he hadn’t read the books (partially because he saw David Lynch’s Dune and figured it wasn’t worth his time) and loved this Dune enough he might go back to read the books! 'Course his co-host was shocked that he’d not read the books and certainly seems in the right demographic to enjoy them.

I saw on Twitter someone called it “the single most humorless movie” she’d seen:

My thought was:

  1. There was also a joke when Leto told Gurney Halleck to smile and Gurney answered “I am smiling”.
  2. The jokes and the Leto telling Paul he only wanted him to be his son felt really out of place in Dune.
  3. Can’t really blame people who aren’t immersed in the lore to be surprised this film isn’t more entertaining. Or at least not entertaining in the way we are used to from typical blockbusters.

In any case, glad to hear it has at least some appeal beyond the fans of the books. Looking forward to Part Two.

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