Arrival's Denis Villeneuve to direct Dune remake


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/01/arrivals-denis-villeneuve-to.html


#2

The problem with turning Dune into a trilogy is that it is very much an integrated whole. The action overlaps, unlike LOTR, so that there isn’t a logical point to stop unless it’s of the “cliffhanger” variety, which is OK for a weekly series but not for a trilogy released annually.
Herbert was writing a book, he wasn’t writing with screenplays in mind. This to my mind is a good thing. I’m reminded of the critic reviewing a play based on a Jane Austen book remarking that, had she wanted to write a play, there were plenty of theatre companies in Bath that would have been ready to put it on the moment she finished it, so presumably she did not mean her books to be dramatised.


#3

It is presented as a trilogy within the novel itself! The novel is literally a trilogy: Books 1, 2 and 3 of Dune.


#4

Everyone making movies about Dune, and I am over here waiting for Rendezvous with Rama.

Sorry for the hijack. I like the Dune movies I have seen. The mini-series on the SciFi channel in 2000 was fantastic. I just really want to see a Rendezvous with Rama movie.


#5

That wasn’t the only problem. Remember “weirding modules?” I remember “weirding modules.”


#6

Lotr was written as a single work divided in six “books”. The division into three volumes was incidental and mostly because of paper shortage in post-war britain.

In my opinion the main proglem with Dune is that so much of it takes place inside the minds of its protagonists. There is action and dialogue, yes, but it’s incomprehensible without the characters’ inner monologue in between.

Also doesn’t help that many of the protagonists are bred super-geniuses. Doesn’t make it easy to make them relatable to an audience.


#7

Obligatory and a must-see.


#8

Two movies might work better, split into Book I (Dune), and then a combined Book II (Muad-dib) / Book III (The Prophet). Book I ends with the Harkonnen attack, Leto’s death, and Paul and Jessica’s flight into the desert – a legit, definitive, powerful End of Act One. The second two Books both focus on Paul among the Fremen, and there’s not really the same kind of decisive shift between Books II and III. Also, Book III itself is fairly short, mainly building toward the final confrontation between the Atreides, the Harkonnen, and the Emperor. Also also, the burden of the world-building would fall in movie #1; might as well give it the space to do that.


#9

Well, yes, but look at the lengths of the “books”; they get progressively shorter, and if you add in the amount of explanation that would be needed in Book 1 - because movies are not content-heavy - the imbalance would be rather noticeable. Of course a complete rewrite would be possible, with a whole lot of stuff happening in Part 1 without explanation, and then it being developed in the next two parts, but it would then be a different film. This is what I meant by saying that everything overlaps. Ulysses it isn’t.
But I stick more strongly by my second part (and I see someone else makes this point): It’s really a book of ideas, the action is there to keep interest but what really gets Herbert going is his social and technological ideas. The set pieces are there to display the reality of power structures in a different, feudalistic but technically advanced society. A film focussing on the technology and the grotesque characters is going to miss what most of the book is really about.
The fact that the plot is based on the rise and expansion of Islam could make things really interesting for other reasons. I can’t help thinking that if the Wahabis or the Ayatollah Khomeini had had it brought to their attention and really understood what it was about, Herbert would have been in the same unfortunate position as Salman Rushdie.


#10

I wonder if King Abdullah of Jordan has read Dune. He’s known to be a Star Trek fan – in 1996, before he became king, he visited the ST: Voyager set and appeared as an extra.


#11

While I’m cautiously optimistic about translating the complexity and internal dialogues of DUNE to film (again), what’s encouraging to me is that someone at Legendary Pictures must have gotten to see the work-in-progress Blade Runner 2049 and thought it was good enough to sign him to adapt another hard sci fi movie.


#12

The solution to that problem is obvious: hand out glossaries to moviegoers. Easy!


#13

i wonder if we’ve reached a point in geek ascendency where it doesn’t matter if it’s a dense sci-fi tale any more. dune is old enough and has seeped into popular culture enough that maybe it will do well if they stick with the original material, and aren’t hampered by feeling the need to “explain all the things.”


#14

I actually liked the 1982 film. But I never read the book.

OT: The one I’m waiting on though, for about 30 years now, is “The Stars My Destination”. From the wiki, there is new hope:

“Various film adaptations of the book have been scripted but none has yet made it to the screen.While the novel has long been considered an “unfilmable” science fiction work, the screen rights were acquired by Universal Pictures in 2006 and by Paramount Pictures in 2015.”


#15

Personally I’m waiting for the film of the Appendices. :expressionless:


#16

I actually agree, and came up with the same stopping point in my head this morning before reading your comment. Film 1: Caladan -> Paul and Jessica’s escape from Arrakeen and the installation of The Beast Rabban. Film 2: Paul’s training with the Fremen -> the fall of the Padishah Emperor, the beginning of the Jihad.

I wonder if Irulan’s narration could help with the internal dialog of the characters? Narration is always tricky in film.


#17

Here’s a thought about how Dune should be filmed, which implies an approach:

Say they use the word “Bene Gesserit” exactly once, the first time, then just call them witches throughout. Or maybe never say it even once, because it’s dog latin and you can’t tell whether made-up words are nouns without lots of exposition, or harry pottering them.

You might see a book or a screen or whatever that has the phrase on it, but in scripted dialog, that word just never shows up.

Lynch understood this, I think, because the establishing line in his movie was literally “The Bene Gesserit witch must leave.”

But then like 20 minutes later it’s all Bene Gesserit sisterhood this and metaphysical training that and jesus christ.


#18

I’m not sure, I think audiences are prepared to learn some lore these days, what with LotR, Potter, etc. The extended cut of the 1984 film prepares the audience for who the Bene Gesserit are, but clever writing could do the same work and allow the various factions to be called by their names in the film proper.

Consider how successful the scene in Two Towers (I think?) is where Faramir locates everyone in space on the map, concisely de-mystifying all the potential spacial confusion in one brilliant scene. Obviously the discussion of the factions in the Dune universe would be different, but similar feats of brilliance have been accomplished.

Basically what I’m saying is I’d hate for the rich worldbuilding to be papered over. If you’re going to do Dune, do Dune.


#19

I must not exposit. Exposition is the script-killer. Exposition is the little-death that brings mental obfuscation. I will face my exposition. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the exposition has gone there will be nothing. Only drama will remain.


#20

I’d be surprised if he had not. The Jordanian monarchy is extremely proud of its Bedouin roots - King Hussein’s grandfather was assassinated because he insisted on retaining the Bedouin custom that the king had to be accessible to all his subjects, despite warnings.