Why Dune 2021 can’t be a true book adaptation
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune adapts Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi classic for the big screen, but it will need to make major changes to the source material.
Although it is an acclaimed adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel, Denis Villeneuve’s novel Dune cannot be a true book adaptation. Dune has already been adapted for the screen: David Lynch attempted it in 1984, only to receive negative reviews and a box office failure. The latest film to tell the story of the war on the desert planet of Arrakis, Dune features an ensemble cast with TimothÃ©e Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, James Brolin and more, and despite some mixed initial reviews, Dune received a six-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
As evidenced by the failure of the 1984 adaptation, it appears that Dune has always been meant to divide, as is often the case with adaptations of popular books. Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune is one of the most beloved sci-fi stories ever written, and finding a way to translate its popularity to the screen without upsetting its most ardent fans is kind of a minefield. It ultimately comes down to the same problem Hollywood has faced for decades: The fundamental differences between page and screen are often overwhelming. This could be especially true for Dune, as the book was so successful, and the 1984 film, although a box office bomb, gained cult status.
While it is already clear that Dune won’t be universally loved, he might alienate some of the book’s fans by straying from the source material. The reasons are beyond Villeneuve’s control as the director of the film, and instead lie in Herbert’s original novel. Dune is classic ’60s sci-fi, revolutionary in its portrayal of other planets and space cultures, and it heavily carries its own sci-fi terminology. While putting it on screen is not necessarily difficult, the extent of its use would have prove difficult for newcomers to the franchise to understand, and although it contributes strongly to Dunethe tone, it is not vital to the plot. Rewriting aspects of the film’s language might not be a huge change from the book, but it’s a big change that needs to be made to ensure Dune does not become a box office failure – after all, to achieve mainstream success, Dune must attract new fans, not just existing ones.
May be DuneThe biggest hurdle is one that’s not limited to sci-fi movies, but to any movie that seeks to adapt a book to the screen. Much of Herbert Dune the series is written from the perspective of internal monologues, which can be difficult to adapt to the screen without forcing exposure. While some of these monologues can be cleverly included, too many of them will slow down the pace of the film. Instead of, Dune will need to make large-scale changes to these monologues and their important place in history to incorporate them into the blockbuster format, removing more Dune from its source material.
As the previous films of Denis Villeneuve testify, the sci-fi epic is certainly in good hands. As evidenced by the years 2016 Arrival, he’s capable of translating science fiction to the big screen with great success, and despite the difficulties inherent in translating Frank Herbert’s work in the latest blockbuster franchise, Villeneuve appears to be the man for the job. Exactly how faithful Dune is in the original books remains to be seen, but his best hope for global success is to move away from Herbert’s novels.
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- Dune (2021)Release Date: October 22, 2021
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