Desert Power: Dune’s Adaptation Proves to be a Strong Film

By Ethan Miller ‘23

The book is always better than the movie- at least, that’s the common phrase that’s heard whenever a film adaptation hits theaters. And for the most part, it’s true. A 2-hour movie can rarely capture the essence of a good book, and as a result, fans are often left disappointed. However, “rarely” means that there are some films that manage to maintain the intricacies of a well-written classic, and this past fall’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s space opera masterpiece Dune is indeed an outlier. 

Dune was published in 1965 by acclaimed science fiction author Frank Herbert and quickly became a classic with its riveting plot, action, and rich lore. The strong debut led to the book winning the inaugural Nebula Award in 1966 for Best Novel. 

The novel was adapted into a film in 1984, to which it received mixed reviews. Ultimately, poor special effects and a difficult storyline made that film a lackluster adaptation- but for Dune fans, it was the only cinematic option until this past year.

The 2021 film follows the book very closely, which contributes to the quality of the movie. The story follows Paul Atreides, the son of the powerful leader of House Atreides. House Atreides, at the beginning of the movie, gains control of the planet Arrakis. Arrakis is a desert planet and contains the most powerful drug in the universe- spice. Paul is revealed to have a multitude of traits and skills that make the locals, the Fremen, believe that he may be their messiah. While on the surface the movie (and the book) appears to simply be a battle over a desired planet, the story runs much deeper than that. It’s a story of prophecy, religion, and culture, unique for science fiction but a welcome addition to the canon. 

The cinematography of Dune is phenomenal, from the music to the action-packed fight scenes. As a result, the film is, arguably, one of the most stunning and visually appealing movies to hit the box office this year. The filmmakers do the landscape justice with stunning angles and shots, alongside mouthwatering science fiction elements reminiscent of Star Wars-esque spacecraft and weapons. Featuring stars such as Oscar Isaac, Timothee Chalamet, and Zendaya, the acting is authentic and captivating. 

While reading the book will certainly help moviegoers to understand the plot of Dune, the movie does a good job of making the plot easy to follow. Dune truly captures the essences of the great novel, and no one who watches the 2021 adaptation will go home disappointed. 

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