I thought I’d let the dust settle before I wrote anything about this. The Facebook groups have been alive with discussion since it was released. I saw the premiere on Twitter on my phone (again, don’t tell David Lynch, he wouldn’t approve!)
I don’t remember how many posts I’ve written about this film so far. There are several links at the bottom which will take you to a selection of them. That’s the most I’ve ever written about a film before; which is in itself quite strange as I haven’t even seen it yet. I haven’t looked forward to anything entertainment-wise as much as this since Twin Peaks came back in 2017.
I have watched the casting announcements and scratched around for little bits of news for what seems like ages and I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve seen and heard so far. I’m on board, that’s for sure.
So, when the trailer was finally released last week, it was like an end in itself; a chance to finally see the cast in action, bringing to life my favourite book. I loved it; let’s get that out of the way first. I was absolutely blown away. I think this film is going to be epic. I only hope that it can do well enough financially to guarantee that we’ll one day get to see the end of the story. Perhaps even more in the future.
So, what I thought I would do in this post is go through some of the things in the trailer and give an indication if what I think, and also what I think they might mean for the way the story has been adapted for the screen. I’ll also try to answer some of the things that keep coming up on fan pages since it came out.
Let’s start with something that bothers me a lot.
There seems to be some conspiracy theory gathering weight that Feyd Harkonnen is not going to be in the film and that he has been combined with the character of Rabban. People are really angry about this even though it hasn’t happened. There’s no real reason for Feyd to be in the first part of the story. He only appears in (I’m fairly sure) one scene in the first half of the book, when the Baron explains his plan to him and Piter. The fact that he’s not in the first film is nothing to worry about. It would be the equivalent of worrying that they hadn’t announced the casting of Faramir before they released The Fellowship of the Ring. I have no doubt that we will see Feyd in the second film in a prominent role.
I’m sure these are palm trees on fire during the attack. I wonder if this is a way of building on the idea of the habit among the previous rulers of Arrakis of showing extravagant waste when it comes to water. The laving basins custom and the indoor garden in the palace at Arrakeen are examples of this. Palm trees lining the landing field, if that’s where this is, would be a vulgar display of wealth in such a place, and would fit in well.
I love the design. There are lots of people moaning about how big it is, but there’s another one in the trailer which looks absolutely huge, swallowing a harvester whole as Paul looks on from an ornithopter. That part where it explodes out of the sand is wonderful, not losing any of its impact upon repeated viewings and even on a tiny screen. What’s this going to look like in IMAX? I wonder if the clip from the trailer of it standing out of the sand in front of Paul comes from a dream sequence. In the books nothing like this happens until Leto II gets his sandtrout skin.
We get a brief look at the spice melange, which I thought was a nice touch. It looks like sparkly cinnamon in the sand.
Crusade or Jihad?
There’s been a lot of eye-rolling about this but I’m afraid it’s just good sense. As much as I want a film that’s true to the novel, you just can’t pick hairs about this kind of decision. It’s the film business, after all. It’s not good business to use the J word if you don’t want a lot of fuss. Let’s face it. That word brings a lot up for a lot of people and your average Hollywood exec is probably not willing to have it plastered all over the promotional material. I know the words have similar meanings. I’m quite sure that there are a great many people who don’t think favourably on the crusades, but there is a lot of water under the bridge since then.
The shield design looks awesome, like a force field around the body. The scene with Gurney and Paul fighting was great to look at. The distortion effect is just how I imagined it in the books.
Dave Bautista looks wonderful in costume. He looks every inch a ‘Beast’. I was wondering how we would deal with his end in the second film if we get that far. It would seem a shame to have him die ‘off screen’. Much better to manufacture an opportunity to have Gurney face off against him. That would be worth deviating from the book to see. It would dull the indignation that Gurney feels in the final scene where Paul refuses him the chance to kill Feyd but that would be made up for by an epic showdown that would make great cinema. Sometimes it’s good to change things a little. Cinema is not like a book. Personally, I thank God I didn’t have to sit through ages and ages of Tom bloody Bombadil when I went to see Lord of the Rings.
Can I just pay tribute to the team that designed that ornithopter. It’s a real thing of beauty and looks just like the book describes it; dragonfly wings and all. Congratulations!
We see quite a lot of soldiers in various uniforms throughout the trailer. It’s quite easy to pick out the Harkonnens but it’s a little bit more tricky trying to divine whether or not we’ve seen Sardaukar yet. In all honesty, the Sardaukar should look just like the Harkonnens if we’re keeping to the novel. There is a nice shot of someone lowering themselves to earth by suspensor that I wondered about. Has anyone figured out how to tell who’s who? In terms of uniforms, I like the Atreides’ armoured look. Oscar Isaac looks the business as Duke Leto. In terms of the smarter uniform, I can’t get over how much Paul’s tunic when he talks to Mohiam is like that of the Lynch version. It’s a little more sleek and minimalist, but it looks like a modern update of the same idea.
Speaking of our hero (or not, spoilers!!), I couldn’t be happier with this choice and the way he looks on screen. I think it’s a masterpiece of casting and I can’t wait to see him in action. I really am dumbfounded at how people who call themselves fans of the book are saying that he looks too skinny and weak to be Paul. Not sure what book y’all have been reading. Paul is a ‘skinny whipcord of a youth’ in the book and that’s all there is to it. I do wonder whether we’re going to have the name, Usul, though? Chani calls him Paul in his dream in the trailer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they streamlined it a little. Paul does have a hell of a lot of names in that book (Paul, Muad’Dib, Usul, the Mahdi, the Kwisatz Haderach, the Lisan al Gaib – have I missed any). Would it hurt to ditch one?
Leto and Jessica
These two look wonderful on screen together too. I can see the love and worry for her Duke that Jessica bears in even the snippets we have in the trailer, and Isaac has infused Leto with the thousand yard stare of a man who knows he’s walking into a noose. Brilliant.
Floating Fat Man
Just two glimpses of Vladimir Harkonnen; both of which are menacing and dark. To see him rising from a bath of oil is an especially strong image.
No sign of Piter
He’s the only main character we haven’t had a look at yet. I wonder why. He does have a big role in the first part of the book and I wonder what look they’ve gone for with David Dastmalchian.
These are just some things I noticed and thought as I watched the trailer. It’s a really great trailer and was well worth waiting so very long for. Now let’s hope the film gets a chance to smash it at the box office. If that means a delay, then we might have to bear it. They have to do everything they can to make sure that this doesn’t fail. See must have Part 2!
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