In a lot of ways, Dune is a journey inward. Paul Atreides has to overcome his mind, fear and internal obstacles before he can overcome his external ones. This might work well for a novel, but for a movie, it can slow down the narrative and become boring.
Denis Villeneuve has a tendency to be cerebral, poetic and ethereal in his directorial style. Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 and Enemy aren’t edge-of-your-seat thrill rides; they take their time and they often focus a lot on a character’s internal struggles. From a cinematic standpoint, all those movies are gorgeous successes (and my personal favorites), but none of them became box office smash hits that broke records.
For Dune to become the mega-blockbuster it was meant to be, it’ll have to bridle the introspective tone and keep the focus on the external struggles between the Atreides and the Harkonnens. Otherwise, all that could slow down the narrative and make it come across as pretentious. I’m not saying they can’t include Paul grappling with who he is (that’s a big part of the story), but if the movie focuses more on that than the external conflict, then it might turn audiences off.
Dune is weird. Perhaps the one thing David Lynch did right with his Dune was make it excessively weird. There’s no getting around it and there’s no use even trying. Dune has weird terminology, weird sandworms, weird bodysuits and weird tests to prove someone is human.
Often, studios tamp down on “the weird factor,” afraid audiences won’t like it. But weird can be good, mostly because it makes the story memorable and shows a wealth of imagination. Details and imagination can go a long way in a story and make people fall in love with the world.
Unfortunately, when most science fiction movies dive deep into imagination and embrace their weird world, they also leave good storytelling at the wayside. But for Dune, I don’t think that will be a problem. From the look of the first trailer, Denis Villeneuve is already embracing the weird.
Regardless of Paul Atreides’ hero’s arc, it’s imperative that Denis Villeneuve and Timothee Chalamet find ways to make Paul Atreides lovable and convince the audience to take his side throughout the story. Obviously, he’s the protagonist, but it’s not enough to simply expect people to get on board. They need to empathize with him and become a full-on supporter of his cause.
After waiting a long time, the Dune trailer is out and already we’re getting a good peek at what Timothee Chalamet’s Paul Atreides will be like. So far, he looks fairly pensive and brooding, with a slight glimmer of joy when greeted by Duncan Idaho. Only time will tell how Chalamet will play the character, but hopefully, he can become the charismatic leader that many have come to love from the books. If so, the filmmakers will have won a huge battle already.
Baron Harkonnen is Duke Leto’s arch enemy. After Duke Leto gains control of Arrakis, Baron Harkonnen, the former ruler, is less than pleased and conspires to kill Duke Leto. Duke Leto knows he’s setting a trap, but he goes there anyway because Arrakis holds melange, a.k.a. spice, the most powerful resource in the universe.