Dune’s new adaptation for the big screen is looking good already.
This has been a long time coming. Warner Brothers has just released a first look at the 2020 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, and it seems like it’s heading in the right direction.
Ever since Dune was published in 1965, it’s been heralded as one of the masterworks of science fiction. The book has been so acclaimed that it even won the very first Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966—an annual commendation given out by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
So what is Dune, exactly?
The story is set in the far future, where noble houses find themselves in conflict, each one vying for a better position in the interstellar Imperium. It follows the young Paul Atreides—the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides—as his family is assigned the stewardship of the planet Arrakis.
Arrakis is a harsh, desert planet, hardly conducive to human life. Still, it is the only source of the spice called melange—a substance that enhances mental awareness and extends the user’s life. It’s also used to navigate through space, where melange can give its users greater acuity and foresight.
To control Arrakis, therefore, is to control the lifeblood of the entire empire. But that control comes at a very steep price, and with very dangerous enemies. Right In the middle of this all is Paul Atreides.
Dune has been noted for its immensely detailed world-building, as well as its complex discussion of politics, the environment, religion, and humanity. It took the author, Frank Herbert, six years to write the novel, having been inspired by his research for an article he wrote about the sand dunes of Oregon.
Such is its complexity that it would be difficult to adapt into a film, and there have been a few attempts before this.
One notable attempt was supposed to have been directed by artist Alejandro Jodorowsky in the ‘70s, though it was later discontinued after extensive pre-production work had already been done, including 3,000 drawings and a script that Frank Herbert described as being “the size of a phone book.” The resulting film would have been 14 hours long, and it later became the subject of a documentary called Jodorowsky’s Dune.
The second one actually made it to theaters in 1984, and was directed by David Lynch. While Herbert had been satisfied with the results, the film wasn’t very well received. Film critic Roger Ebert gave it one star out of four, describing it as “a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.”
But it seems as though Warner Brothers might just have broken the luckless streak, if these early photos are anything to go by. With Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve at the helm, and a cast that’s as stellar as the novel’s setting (including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, and Jason Momoa), 2020 could be the year we see Dune done right. Take a look at the cast of Dune below: