❄️Michael Zak❄️’s review published on Letterboxd:
Short Review - "Dune" is everything I wanted it to be and more: artistic, nuanced, thematically rich, well shot, well acted, and big. Full of nuance and subtext, DUNE doesn't spoon feed you plot or exposition - it drops out into this vast world and carefully lets you into it little by little. It soars high above every mainstream Hollywood movie that has come out this year and will come out in the next few months. It's a masterpiece.
Long Review: SPOILERS!!!
Okay. You're here because for some reason you care about what I have to say about this movie. Let me just provide some context: I have been waiting for this movie for a long time. Frank Herbert's DUNE is one of my favorite books of all time. I have so many fond memories reading it for the first time, staying up late at night, flipping back and forth between the chapters and the glossary. Trying to wrap my head around the enigma that was DUNE.
I love DUNE. I love the challenge of DUNE. I love the world of DUNE, the characters of DUNE. I love the meaning of DUNE. It is the single most fulfilling book I have ever read - a spiritual, mind opening novel. Deeply rooted in Buddhism and the ideas that we are all one with the universe. We are all the universe. It sheds light onto the destruction of capitalism. It warns of ecological disasters. It discusses religion, war, mindfulness, destiny, politics, nature. It is a mammoth.
And it's apparent why many Western minded readers can't quite wrap their heads around its central Buddhist themes - Frank Herbert converted from Christianity to Buddhism after all. And he imbued his story with the ideas of many Eastern spiritual practices. The way of The Tao. Of Tatatha. The Pure Land. The main idea of DUNE is quite simple - we are all one, we are all a part of this universe because WE ARE THE UNIVERSE. There are no leaders, there are no slaves. There is not you or me or them or us - it is all one. It is all happening at once, just as we are happening.
And Herbert uses the character of Paul, and his coming of age, to almost mirror Herbert's own shift from a Western mind to an Eastern mind. From a mind of "the self" to a mind of "all". This is why I find DUNE so fascinating and so spiritually rewarding. Paul, an insanely wonderful character, goes from being timid and anxious about his place in the universe and his inevitable destiny to inherit the throne, to accepting and realizing that it's not about HIM - it's about everyone.
And I'm SO happy to say that Denis Villeneuve completely and utterly nails not only the tone of Herbert's novel, but the themes as well! And Denis uses Herbert's tactics as well: don't spoon feed the audience these themes. Let them come to realize them. I love it. This film is ALL about the subtext. If you aren't 100% paying attention, you are going to miss something - because nothing is overly explained. Nothing feels like exposition. It's all important, because it's telling a much deeper and broader story than what is on the surface.
And, you know what, I know that's going to go over some people's heads. It's inevitable - some people watch movies for a very surface level plot and don't really like to spend time thinking about themes or allegories. And that's fine - their loss. I think this film offers an equally enjoyable time for people who just want a simple story about two warring houses, trying to keep control of a planet that has been under the grip of a power hungry Imperialistic government for centuries. I'm sure most people will cling to the character of Paul, and his personal struggle and coming of age.
But, to me, DUNE will always be more of an idea than a story - a message more than a plot. DUNE is a reminder that we are all in this together. DUNE is a warning to humans to stop harming this earth, to stop drilling it and hollowing it out of all its natural resources. To live in harmony with nature and with one another. This film carries that subtext brilliantly.
In addition to it nailing the themes and allegories - HOLY FUCK is it gorgeous. It's so well shot and well composed. It's a piece of art. Every aspect from the writing to the directing to the acting to the music - it's firing on all cylinders. I can't wait to watch this over and over. I'm probably even going to read the book again. I'm so happy that this story is finally getting the attention and care it deserves. Denis clearly has so much respect for the source material and delivered a film that is beautiful and powerful.
EVERYONE GO SEE THIS SO WE CAN GET PART TWO!!!!