I feel like time sometimes plays tricks on me. I watched the new trailer for Dune Part 2, which is the one directed by Denis Villenueve and starring the "King of the Twinks," Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides. Part One came out in 2021. That was...basically two years ago, right? I felt like I just watched it last year, but that simply isn't true. And it's already July 2023, which means that 2023 is essentially already half over. Seeing Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny tonight...and knowing that it is has something to do with time (I've kept away from a lot of the spoilers)...my statement seems on the nose in a weird way. But I digress (time flies?).
I've always been a fan of Dune despite having my issues with Herbert as a person. I can say that about a lot of people. Ezra Miller, J.K. Rowling, Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, David and Leigh Eddings, Roman Polanski, Ansel Elgort, Gina Garano, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the list goes on and on and on. Given that there are also so many bad people who don't create art and I don't like them (Donald Trump, Ted Nugent, etc.) it is really challenging to find "any people" who qualify as "good people." Seriously...it's getting tough folks. So, I generally take the road of "all people are bad and I have a need for entertainment so I'm going to do this thing." And thus we arrive at my writing about Dune and talking about Dune and just enjoying Dune for what it is.
So...Dune! What do I say about the various iterations of Dune that I haven't said before that may be worth a post or a discussion. Villeneuve's part one of what he saw in Herbert's writing was one of those strange experiences that managed to be both spectacle and boring at the same time. But in the end, I loved it. It was a great adaptation of the book. The Lynch version of Dune by contrast was a gorgeous mess. Even though I felt that Lynch was faithful to Herbert's themes, I do believe he was interested more in innocence versus corruption and good vs. evil. Dune as a writing is a lot more subtle than that, and has a theme about how a false prophecy has been purposefully designed. It is there to use religion to motivate people. The book avoids the white savior story while Lynch's version literally embraces it.
Paul, even though he is our protagonist, is trapped in his destiny. And eventually he's going to find himself in a situation where he no longer has any choice at all--that whether he lives or dies, the coming war is already in motion, and it is carried by the religious currents sweeping through the Fremen and the Empire. And regarding Paul, he basically must use his vision of the possible futures to try and navigate them and pick the one that sucks the least. By the end of the book, Paul has to choose between dying himself, letting his family die, or causing Jihad to spread across the universe killing billions. After wrestling with that moral quandary, he makes a decision, and he gives up on saving billions and chooses to live. So the white savior he is not. But you definitely don't get that from the 1984 Dune. I mean...he even makes it rain on Arrakis, which...is not in the book. The comparisons to a "savior" are obvious here.
Anyway, I think that Villenueve is giving me what I want in this movie, which has been split into two parts. Take a look at the newest trailer, and decide for yourself. I just hope that it all doesn't end with Dune. Afterall, Herbert wrote many more books that continue a story of an Empire that is pretty fascinating, and a destiny for humanity that one just has trouble not watching.