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Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Dune: Part Two



Dune, U.S. 2021, and Dune: Part Two, U.S. 2024. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, screenplays by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth. Based on the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert.

Atelier im Savoy, Row 3, Seat 9+10, original version.

(This post also appears, in slightly different format, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)

I didn’t watch Dune I when it came out back in 2021, mostly because I shunned theaters* even with two Corona shots, partly because I like double features and looked forward to watching both back to back fresh.

I was not disappointed. Everything oscillates between great and fantastic: the script’s faithfulness to Herbert’s novel as well as its ingenious character and faction updates; Zimmer’s score and the equally incredible work of the sound design team (Mangini, Green, Bartlett, Villeneuve); Struthers’s faction combat and Yuan’s eskrima-based melee choreographies; set design and costumes; and Walker’s excellent cut. And, of course, the ensemble cast. Throwing a lot of money and brilliant people at a challenging job isn’t necessarily a recipe for success, but in this case, yeah.

As to Fraser’s cinematography, I couldn’t figure out what he’d been doing. Sure, he must have shot digital, yet Dune doesn’t look digital. But it doesn’t look analog either! Turns out, it’s a hybrid. He shot digital (Alexa LF and Mini LF), then transferred it to 35mm, then scanned it back to digital. Go Creative Show has a Fraser interview, it’s fascinating.

Part II got even better reviews than Part I; I can understand why, but I prefer Part I for its mood and tension. Speaking of mood, yes, I did and do like Lynch’s 1984 Dune, up to a point. The theatrical version did disappoint, but many years later a theater where I lived at the time screened the 2006 177min original aspect ratio version of the 1988 KTVU version, and there’s of course the 2012 187min SpiceDiver cut. Still not a great movie, but there’s a lot to like about it. A lot went wrong during production, and critics circle-reviewed themselves into a frenzy way beyond any criticism the movie actually deserves. Finally, while Jodorowky’s Dune never came to pass, I once sat on Baron Harkonnen’s chair in the full throne room designed for the movie by Giger, at an exhibition in Switzerland—which also featured, among tons of other awesome Giger stuff, the original ghost train from Species. Much smaller than you think, but holy shit.

Anyways. Villeneuve’s Dune is a treat you don’t want to miss.

* The only exception being The Matrix Resurrections, because of course.

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