Diving into ‘Dune’ : a review

Discussing the film adaptation of a classic work in science fiction

Jada Thomas, Staff Writer

A little over a week ago, Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel “Dune” was released both at the movies and on HBO Max. If you saw it in theaters, you might have been part of the crowd that helped it gain $40 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend. However, if you were like me and streamed the movie from the comfort of your home, I’m sure the experience was a bit different, but still just as enjoyable. I sure thought it was. 

Going into this movie, I had very little knowledge of what the book was about. If I’m being honest, what primarily caught my interest was the attractive cast; with the likes of Zendaya, Timothèe Chalamet, Oscar Isaac and Jason Momoa, it was a viewing I couldn’t pass up. Typically, I would’ve read the book before seeing the movie so that I could compare them afterwards, but after seeing several people across the internet saying it was a challenging read — not to mention it’s already daunting size — I decided I simply wasn’t going to put myself through the struggle. That being said, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie at all. 

One of my main points of enjoyment of the movie was purely based on the parallels I noticed. Essentially, I saw the story as one huge allegory for colonization. What caused me to come to this conclusion was the fact that the story involved a transition between two great powers, or houses as they’re called in context, and one had previously invaded a planet, violently disrupted the lives of the people who already lived there and forcefully stole the spice the planet generated because of its value throughout the rest of the world. The other house, which the movie primarily focused on, also invaded the same planet to collect the spice as well.

As someone who’s familiar with World history, I immediately recognized that these aspects of the movie resembled various similar stories throughout time; for example, European settlers disrupting the lives of the Native Americans when they first came to America, the British colonization of India, and even in the modern age with the United States invading Iraq and areas in the Middle East for oil. I found it fascinating how such an expansive and futuristic story could weave in a theme as global as colonialism, and that was just in the movie, so I’m sure if I read the book it would delve into subjects like this more deeply. 

My second major point of enjoyment of this movie is similar in that it comes from certain comparisons I made. Despite not having read the book, I’ve seen plenty of talk about “Dune” around the internet, especially in the month leading up to this film’s release. Something I saw that stuck with me is that “Dune” stands with “Star Wars” as arguably one of the landmark pieces of work in the genre of science fiction. As someone who’s a huge fan of the “Star Wars” movies, I kept this little piece of information in the back of my mind as I watched this film. Something else that was in my head as I watched the movie was the fact that “Dune” came out about a decade before “Star Wars,” so I was looking for ways that “Dune” had inspired aspects of “Star Wars,” and I definitely found some. 

One example is how there was a sort of special power that only a few people in the movie, including the main character Paul could use. In “Dune” this power is called the “Voice,”  and my mind immediately recognized that this was similar to the Force, which is used in “Star Wars.” Another instance of this is how there’s a religious cult of sorts in “Dune,” and they’re called the Bene Gesserit. This can be connected to “Star Wars” because the franchise features a group that functions the same way, but they’re called Jedi.

Besides the historical parallels and nerdy references, there were many other reasons why I enjoyed this movie. A few of these reasons are the fact that the film featured a great score, fantastic cinematography and phenomenal performances. If you have free time in the next few weeks, especially with Thanksgiving coming up, I highly recommend that you dive into this great adaptation of a classic novel.