MOVIE THEATER – When you adapt a work, you have to expect to see hordes of fans surging, no matter how carefully you have worked: this will inevitably be the case with the film. Dune, based on the monumental work of Frank Herbert, which hits theaters this Wednesday, September 15. I am in a good position to bear witness to it: I am part of the horde. But Denis Villeneuve did a good job, providing a successful $ 165 million showcase for the adventures of Paul Atréides. And to be satisfied, me, it was to agree almost all the stages of my life.
I was nine when I discovered Dune, at the time of quite a long way. My older brother devoured them, and living on the bed above mine, his books, or at least their blankets, would inevitably pass before my eyes. I stared at the illustrations, and connoisseurs will say it: when we arrive around the 4th volume, the doors of the strange have been crossed. This strangeness, it’s all over the place Dune from Villeneuve. We are never quite at ease, and that’s very good: we are not on Earth, we are not at home. Nothing is meant to be familiar.
At thirteen, I therefore took up the challenge, and started the famous cycle, to stall early enough in the mountain stages. May connoisseurs forgive me: in the seven volumes of the cycle of Dune, there is an adventure novel which exhausts two of them, then a philosophical-political reflection which settles in the following five. No matter how hard I got to the end, the last thousand pages were dry.
Logically enough, the film adapts the very beginning of the saga, the first volume, which is more of the adventure book. He manages to make relatively few dead ends on the richness of this world, his vocabulary, but manages to remain exciting. Basically, he remains focused on the essential: a gigantic desert, the bloody confrontation of two families, and in the middle, men who survive an absurdly hostile environment. These are the elements that made the success of Dune elsewhere than in bookstores.
Dune, my Star Wars (and my Slipknot)
No matter how much I bit the dust with the books, my father had installed the video games Dune 1 and 2 on our family PC, and it was fantastic. I played, my father played, we kicked the buttocks of Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV: the subtleties of the book certainly escaped me a little, but with the games, I was transported.
Do you really have to respect a work down to the last detail to show it that you love it madly? In Villeneuve’s film, the men on the move in the relentless desert dodger often have their heads completely uncovered, a real death sentence on the planet Arrakis. But the cinema requires that we regularly see the face of Timothé Chalamet: so be it. Sometimes you have to compromise on details, whether you’re Denis Villeneuve or Matthieu Balu at 13 years old.
When I was fifteen, in the summer between my second and my first, I reread the saga, and literary and intellectual ecstasy occurred. The temperature in my room had a lot to do with it during that scorching summer of 1999, but this time I was there. I lived the seizure of power of the Atreides, the battle of the spice, I exulted to read the power of the Fremen, I suffered with Paul, I became monstrous with the Emperor-God, I understood his project, and the volume of ‘afterwards I espoused the revolt of his opponents. It was mind-blowing.
On the big screen, this first part, which lays the foundations of an ultra-rich history, does not overplay the café philosophy side, and that’s good: we let ourselves be carried away, even forgetting the heavy emphasis of certain dialogues: afterwards all, Dune looks a lot more like Star Wars than fans will ever want to admit.
With passion, the real one, begins the long tragedy of not being able to communicate what one has felt. So in high school, like a good monk-soldier, I began a quest that was lost in advance. Instead of Slipknot engraved in tipex on my backpack, I had a sentence on the cover of my diary: “Seek freedom and become a slave to your desires. Seek discipline and find your freedom. ” Admittedly, it is completely inconvenient once out of the framework of DuneFrankly react too, but I urge you to dive back into your own teen agendas.
Talk about Dune to my friends was an exercise made perilous by the imperative to simplify, always simplify, to make people want. Denis Villeneuve, him, quite simply erased one of the most vile characters of Dune, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, probably with the same objective as me. I must admit that I missed him.
Dune, my anti-Borgen
Two years later, another serious reading. It was time to teach me politics. A good science fiction book is often a thinly disguised science textbook. With Dune, a few large families clash in intergalactic silence, before a bloodthirsty dictatorship halfway between the caliphate, the court of Louis XIV and the 3rd Reich. In short, it’s not really Borgen.
I also learned, while writing this text, that the fascists really liked Dune, this saga conceived above all as an ecological fable. On this aspect, the film is almost flawless. Villeneuve has preserved all the elements that make this universe a powder keg where visions of the world clash.
Unless of course we see a problem in having feminized a character on this chessboard. Liet-Kynès, the ecologist of Dune, the idealist of the desert, is indeed embodied on the screen by Sharon Duncan-Brewster. But I’m still trying to find out what harm the original work might make that change. In Dune, gender is extremely important to a handful of characters, and absolutely irrelevant to everyone else.
When I was 17, I signed up for the first time on a discussion forum, and obviously took the name of one of the heroes of the book. At this point in the story, I am not going to give either the name of the site or my enthusiastic nickname: the internet never forgets, a little google search has just shown me, and there is a level of embarrassment that I am not. not yet ready to face.
Regarding studies, my decision had been taken long enough. The book was me. I was going to do my university thesis on it: it didn’t matter the angle, the precise subject. As always, I wanted to explain to anyone who wanted to hear it why the saga was great – but this time I was going to use adult methods, like the good mature man I had become. I would write a doctoral block on Dune. It didn’t happen. No time, surely.
Dune, my anti-manual of seduction
A year later, new reading. There frankly, it was too much. After a philosophy, politics, I remember that my 18 years were those of a reading … in love, the hormones were undoubtedly there for a lot. I was fascinated by the sexual tension between the characters, which admittedly is rather strange. Several couples make and tear each other apart Dune, but few would describe Herbert’s work as romantic, or even marked by any sentimentality. Really not, really not at all, apart from Frank Herbert’s very moving postscript in tribute to his extinct wife.
I don’t think that’s the strength of this feature either. The relationship between Jessica and her son Paul, the most ambiguous, is more of the ball than the dramatic spring. The rest is very classic: Paul admires his father (Oscar Isaac, so handsome), Paul admires his mentor (Jason Momoa, so strong), Paul sometimes dreams of his bride (Zendaya, so Zendaya) … these moments are precisely the most familiar, the most interchangeable with any other Hollywood film.
I still managed to associate Dune to my sentimental life: one of the tables at my wedding bears the name. The one, of course, where my brother was placed. This tribute was rather easy: we had chosen book titles as a theme. Another, like cheese, would have required more imagination.
Since, Dune remain in my library, sovereignly throne like a totem, transferred from apartment to apartment. As we would exhibit his first X-men or his complete collection of Friends in VHS or Naruto in Manga. Today, it is no longer my bible, my book on philosophy, politics, or love art (I’m still not sure what happened). It is part of my culture. It’s also what makes a die-hard fan, an otaku, a nerd, always have my sympathy. Denis Villeneuve, you therefore have my sympathy.
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