Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, who travels to the desert planet Arrakis with his family, as his father, the Duke, was assigned it as a fief for the Emperor. However, violence and betrayal soon follow the Atreides’ arrival due to disputes over the planet’s most valuable resource – spice. In his struggle for survival, Paul discovers his true destiny, one that the people – his and Arrakis’s – have been awaiting for generations.
Because the Dune movie was released way back in October, I decided to bite the bullet and read the classic – albeit very lengthy – book. I then watched the movie afterward (Also very lengthy!). Here are my thoughts on the two.
The world of Dune is very complex, and I have to commend the intricacies of the worldbuilding. The government, the landscape, the technology, and the supernatural element are all new and very creatively invented. However, it made the plot all the more confusing. The odd terms that were dropped without explanation made me feel as if I was reading the second book in a series; like I was missing something. Everything got mixed up in my head and I found myself wishing for some sort of description for these terms in the book, and not just in the appendix.
The book also frequently jumped to the side characters’ perspectives (that is – not Paul). The side characters were another thing that frequently got confounded in my head. There were lots of old men that didn’t contribute much to the story and weren’t fully fleshed out, yet there were plenty of chapters written from their point of view. It is one of my pet peeves when a story is told by an omniscient narrator as opposed to a limited narrator; knowing everything that is going on with everybody instead of just the main character. A good rule of thumb: if the story is too boring to be just from the main character’s point of view, then you’ve got too boring of a main character. I also hated that there were chapters discussing everything that the main villain, Baron Harkonnen, was plotting, because the book was much more dull knowing who the betrayers were and what he was going to do.
That brings me to my next topic: Paul did not have enough flaws. The character is an amazing fighter, astoundingly intelligent, all-knowing, and also the Chosen One. He is written as invincible, as incapable of making mistakes. He is also a spoiled brat, treating all others, especially women, with disrespect. He is uninteresting and irritating overall.
I also felt that this book was just not written compellingly. The way the words fit together was bland and made the book much more of a chore to read. It was very reminiscent of the way Lord of the Rings and other older epics were composed, seeing as it was published in 1965. I think this is just personal preference – I generally prefer modern books.
The thing that irked me the most about this book though, is the way that women are thought of, treated, and portrayed. The Kwisatz Haderach, or the “Chosen One” in Paul’s world, can only be a man because women are “limited.” The Bene Gesserits, who are a society of powerful women, exist to “breed with men” despite their abilities. The women in this world only exist to aid men, marry men, seduce men, and bear children. After having barely met Paul, his love interest throws herself into her arms and declares she wants to have his child. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Much of the story revolves around the treating of women as property and the keeping of them as concubines. Just . . . gross. I understand that this book is old, but that doesn’t make this content any less disturbing.
Overall, I feel that I wasted my time on this supposed “classic.” At its bones, the story had potential, but the execution truly was not there.
Rating ➳ ★☆☆☆☆
The complexities of the book were very well-handled in the movie. The graphics were incredibly done and rendered the various technologies, locations, and cultures expertly into a visual format. There was a lot less dropping of random names and words that didn’t add anything to the story, for which I was grateful. The casting was also great, and the acting made the storyline all the more convincing.
The jumping to side characters’ points of view actually lent better to the movie. It felt as if I was being subjected more to the full scope of the plot, rather than looking in on useless events. The side characters also were better-developed in the movie – the audience has a clear idea of who they are and what their motives are.
Paul is also more flawed. His emotions of sadness and confusion seemed very distinct to me as opposed to the book. He seems a lot more realistic and has a far better character arc.
The portrayal of women was, needless to say, corrected in this modern movie update. One of the main male characters in the book, Dr. Kynes, is female in the movie, which I loved to see. The Kwisatz Haderach happens to be a man, but no one mentions that women are limited. In fact, the movie hints at the Bene Gesserits having control of the politics of the Imperium. There is also more racial diversity in the movie as well. Overall, a far more tactful interpretation of these subjects.
The movie is watchable by a newcomer audience, although with some confusion. What frustrated me was that reading the book was the only way to have a full background on the events occurring in the movie. If I could have watched the movie without reading the book, I would have. I really enjoyed the movie and would definitely recommend it.
Rating ➳ ★★★★☆
This is one of those rare instances that I can say, “The movie was better.” The book really just rubbed me the wrong way, but the movie was very well done.