Dune Movie Differences vs The Book: what Denis Villeneuve has changed
Since the age of fourteen, director Denis Villeneuve has dreamed of adapting Frank Herbert’s film Dune for the big screen. With decades to think about it, he landed with a simple imperative: stick to the source. (Or at least that’s what the caption says.) And when he finally got the chance to set the story up for live action, he stuck with it. “When you adapt, it’s an act of vandalism”, Villeneuve Recount geek lair This year. “You are going to change things. But from the start, I said to the crew, to the studio, to the actors: “The bible is the book. We will stay, as much as possible, as close as possible to the book. I want people who love the book to feel like we’re putting a camera in their minds.
But when you compress a sprawling, space-time-folding novel – which ends up telling its story across 21 books, do you think – into a blockbuster movie (or two, as Villeneuve hopes to squeeze the back half of the novel in? in a second film), something must give. From modernizing the storyline to removing some characters altogether, Villeneuve had to make a few changes. Read on for a full breakdown of the main differences between Villeneuve. Dune from that of Herbert.
Farewell, Princess Irulan
Readers of the novel will recall that the chapters are anchored by epigraphs by Princess Irulan (future wife of Paul Atreides), whose quasi-historical texts about the mighty man Paul will become, written long in the future, foreshadows events simple pages before they unfold. Villeneuve completely eliminates this framing device, allowing the story to be lived as Paul saw it. The result is a more fierce inner experience of Paul’s journey to Messianic prominence, well suited to the Dune beginner inundated in the strange and complex world of Herbert. From removing Princess Irulan to removing the book’s internal discursive monologues, it’s all part of a quest to do something decidedly cinematic, not literary.
“The book is very internal”, Villeneuve Recount The Los Angeles Times. “We hear the thought processes of different characters. The way we’ve adapted that is, first of all, we took Paul and Jessica’s point of view and tried to stay as close to these two characters as possible. Then we tried to develop ideas that would allow us to to feel what is their state of mind without having a voiceover.
The only meaningful voiceover that can be heard in the Dune is the opening sequence, spoken by Chani. As control of Arrakis is transferred to House Atreides, Chani reflects on the Fremen’s suffering at the hands of House Harkonnen, wondering aloud, “Who will be our next oppressors?” This line, newly written for the film, is at the heart of Herbert’s allegorical vision. Dune is, after all, an ecological allegory about the oil wars that haunt the modern Middle East. Herbert draws on the geopolitical tetris between the Middle East and the West in his vision of noble houses vying for spices, Arrakis’ precious natural resource. Moving any sort of framework device from Princess Royal Irulan to the native Chani is to provide a welcome juxtaposition to the frequent emphasis on noble brokers of political power. From the opening gate, Villeneuve asks us to question the motivations and morals of any intruder on Arrakis, whether it is Harkonnen or Atreides. That hint of when power turned into oppression has always existed in Herbert’s novel, but in 2021 Villeneuve turned the dial to 11.
Lady Jessica and Liet Kynes get a makeover
Like most works of mid-century science fiction, Dune does not always do well by the women in its pages. Villeneuve’s mission is to bring the women of Dune into the twenty-first century, starting with its development as Lady Jessica.
“As a filmmaker, I have always been drawn to femininity, and in many of my films, the main protagonist is a woman”, Villeneuve noted. “Femininity is there in the book, but I thought it should be front and center. I said to [co-writers] Eric [Roth] and Jon [Spaihts], ‘We have to make sure Lady Jessica is not an expensive extra.’ He’s such a beautiful and complex character.
In Herbert’s galactic future, marriage is seen as a political opportunity to unite the big houses, which means romantic matches are rare. As a result, Lady Jessica, deeply in love with her partner but not with a ruling class, is treated as a second class citizen in the Atreides house, due to her title of “Duke Leto Atreides’ official concubine”. Some see her as a disobedient servant clinging to the nobility; others see her as a scheming spy or a Bene Gesserit witch. Villeneuve makes no move to alter the cold political calculation preventing Duke Leto from marrying Lady Jessica, but he does raise her rank, presenting her as a true partner of the Duke, without shame or suspicion. And the question of marriage comes up in the movie, with a twist: when Duke Leto admits in Herbert’s novel that he should have married Lady Jessica, it’s up to Paul, but in the movie he admits it to Lady. Jessica herself. Villeneuve goes one step further by shedding the subordinate status attached to the character by removing a subplot in which Baron Harkonnen claims Lady Jessica is his spy, arousing suspicion among loyal members of House Atreides.
By allowing Lady Jessica to access her own power, Villeneuve also strengthens and modernizes her ties to the Bene Gesserit. Where Herbert’s novel sees Lady Jessica using “the voice” to seduce her and Paul’s kidnappers, Villeneuve gets right to the point, rewriting the scene to show Lady Jessica ordering her captors to simply kill themselves. Meanwhile, the series of hand symbols that Paul and Jessica exchange, which allow them to communicate without speaking, are entirely an invention of Villeneuve. At Villeneuve Dune, Lady Jessica is powerful and free in her own right – she is no one’s second-class wife.
Following her changes to Lady Jessica, Villeneuve took another step towards leading femininity: rewriting Dr. Liet Kynes, whom viewers first encounter when the Atreids arrive in the wilderness, as a woman. Readers of the novel will remember the character as a man appointed by the Imperium to act as a judge of change, overseeing the transfer of Arrakis from House Harkonnen to House Atreides. When Spaihts suggested swapping the character, Villeneuve thought it was great. “It does not change the nature of the character”, Villeneuve noted. “It just makes it closer to today’s world, more relevant and frankly more interesting.”
At Villeneuve DuneDr. Kynes knows a different fate than what readers will remember. In the book, Dr. Kynes dies face down in the desert, of dehydration and delirium. Meanwhile, in the movie, Dr. Kynes meets a much more cinematic ending. Shot down in the desert by the Sardaukar, who have discovered his treacherous alliance with House Atreides, Dr. Kynes summons a sandworm to his location, which swallows him and his assassins. It’s a thrilling visual, as well as a clever reminder that even the Sardaukar are no match for the dangerous mysteries of the Desert or the Fremen who overpowered them.
In Herbert’s book, Dr. Kynes is Chani’s father. Although Villeneuve Dune shows no evidence that Dr Kynes is Chani’s mother, Dune The second part can reveal these family ties. Chani gets her own sparkle in this adaptation; while she does not appear at all in the first half of Herbert’s novel, Villeneuve sketched it into the story through visions of Paul’s future.
Chani and Dr. Kynes aren’t the only characters jostling each other in the film. Herbert Dune has a huge cast of supporting characters, many of whom haven’t made it to the big screen. We had to say goodbye to Feyd-Rautha, Baron Harkonnen’s scheming nephew, who was so memorably played by Sting in the David Lynch film. Dune. Meanwhile, Thufir Hawat and Piter De Vries, the “mentoring” advisers (mostly human supercomputers) of Duke Leto Atreides and Baron Harkonnen, feature much less prominently in the film than in the novel.
“There are less developed characters that I keep for the second film, that’s how I found the balance. »Villeneuve Explain. “We tried in this film to stay as close as possible to Paul’s experience. Then, in the second, I will have time to develop characters that are a little left out. This is the theory. Hope this will work.
Some characters that are not fully removed are reduced in the name of the narrative opportunity. Take Baron Harkonnen, for example: Villeneuve reduced the grotesque to the big bad’s Jabba the Hutt from the book, and completely removed dated, homophobic pederasty from the baron’s private life. Villeneuve also deleted the baron’s frequent evil words, saying, “I wanted him to be a man of few words.”
“This film is really focused on Paul, and I brought a little bit of the Harkonnens just for the context, to understand the geopolitics of the story”, Villeneuve noted. “This film just gives a little glimpse of the Harkonnens. The second film talks a lot more about them.
A more elegant Dune
Even the total spice heads can get lost in the word soup of Dune. From the Guild of Space to Landsraad to Missionaria Protectiva, Villeneuve’s Dune removes the quagmire of political and economic organizations that form the backdrop of the novel. Cutting the fat ultimately results in a more user-friendly movie, especially for beginners.
“The scenario is quite simple, it’s more the density of the world and its richness and complexity”, Villeneuve noted. “The big challenge was trying not to overwhelm the audience early on with an insane amount of exposure. It took a long time to find the right balance so that those who did not know Dune will not feel left out and be a part of history.
If your favorite scene has been deleted or you want to see more of a beloved character, take heart. We still have a whole second movie to look forward to.
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