In 1965, Dune, a science fiction book by American writer Frank Herbert, was published. The era in which it appeared was that of the counterculture: the hippies, the protests against the Vietnam War and the Beatles; a time when the system was criticized and many groups fought for rights that had long been denied them. In 2021 Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is about to present his adaptation of Dune – 80% in theaters and HBO Max this October 22, how relevant is the story created by Herbert still? According to the filmmaker, today it is even more relevant, due to extreme capitalism.
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In recent decades, access to information has made it known to millions of people around the world that the ecological catastrophe is the product of the abuses of the capitalist system, and that something needs to be done about it. It is also a fact that the exploitation of natural resources often goes hand in hand with the destruction of other cultures by the colonizers. Although the forms of colonization have changed, they are still a reality, and the richest countries like the United States are responsible. In this context Dune does not seem to be out of place, quite the opposite, and perhaps that is why the director, when questioned by Variety about whether Dune was still relevant, he replied that it is even more so than in the 60s:
I think it is more relevant [ahora] […] than when you were reading the novel in the early 60’s. Sadly the book is more relevant today than it used to be when it was written. The exploitation of natural resources that is done because of extreme capitalism … You can see that the forces that will oppose it will be sacred and linked to religion, and that is such a dangerous and volatile mix, and it is something that the movie is exploring.
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The 1960s also saw the birth of the New Age movement, which turned its back on the traditional religion of the West, Christianity / Catholicism, and turned to the Native American and Eastern religions. This also seems to have influenced the journey of the protagonist, Paul Atreides, of whom Villeneuve commented that he finds his freedom in another culture:
There is also the idea of a character who needs to get rid of the internal voices that come from his genetic heritage, politically rigid family heritage, and how to find freedom, and Paul Atreides will free himself from this heritage by finding solace in another culture. I think it is a very beautiful idea.
Dune tells the story of the noble Atreides family, who are chosen to administer the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, from which a substance is extracted that extends human life and makes interstellar travel possible. In that world, the duke’s son, Paul Atreides, meets the natives, the Fremen, and forms an alliance with them. The cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, and David Dastmalchian.
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This is not the first time Herbert’s novel has been adapted for the big screen. In the 1970s, Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky brought together a group of talented artists to make a Dune film, but the project’s enormous ambition meant that no studio agreed to produce it. Years later David Lynch was selected to adapt the novel and the result was Dunas – 56%, a tape that Lynch has denied on multiple occasions, and of which very few have good things to say.
Secondly Dune, from Denis Villeneuve, has garnered rave reviews since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and it is hoped that if it scores good ratings on HBO Max, a sequel will be approved.