Why Was “Dune” So Complex?

Dune+premiered+on+October+22nd%2C+and+was+made+available+in+theaters+and+on+HBO+max

HBO Max

“Dune” premiered on October 22nd, and was made available in theaters and on HBO max

Winnie Einhorn, Staff Writer

The long awaited blockbuster movie “Dune” became available in theaters as well as on HBO Max on October 22, and Woodside students have a lot to say about it. 

The movie, based on the 1965 novel of the same name, follows the adventure of Paul Atreides as he navigates a fantasy desert planet. The movie features many highly regarded actors including Timotheé Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, and Zendaya. 

“Dune” gathered a consensus of positive reviews, with a rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, scoring much higher than the 1984 interpretation of the novel, which received a 44%.

The 2021 version of “Dune” received a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes
The 1984 version of “Dune” scored very poorly on Rotten Tomatoes

Many fans enjoyed the accuracy of the film, as it stayed very close to the original novel in plot, pacing, and complexity.

“It’s paced on the slower side… because it is such a complicated world,” Woodside senior Ryan Mills said. “A lot of times they cannot slow down, and [they] use expository dialogue to fill you in on what’s going on. But towards the climax… the pacing picks up for sure. So it may seem slower, but in a really good way.”

While the detail and depth of the movie received high praise from fans, the high level of complexity became difficult for newer viewers to navigate. 

“The effects and stuff I thought were really well done, but as a whole, I honestly have no idea what it was about,” Woodside freshman Dana Reed said. “[The end] left us with a lot of cliffhangers, except it was more of just like, I’m confused. What’s happening?”

Reading the novel, or even watching the 1984 version of “Dune” helped fans follow the complexity of the new movie. Regarding new viewers, even some experienced fans recognized the difficulty posed by such a complex plot. 

“If you had zero context for the movie, you would have a very difficult time figuring out what was going on,” Woodside junior Carter Peck said.

As fans followed along with the deep world-building and political conflicts within the plot, many observed allegories to real-world issues. 

“The Fremen wanted to make Arrakis a paradise with a lot of plants,” Woodside senior Ruby Stevenson said. “And then [the Atreides] found the spice… it’s a huge export for everyone… and [the Fremen are] just kind of oppressed in that way by everyone who wants to get the spice to sell it. So it’s kind of imperialism, colonialism, and ecology.”

The film also conveyed a heavy theme of colonialism. 

“All the conflict comes with this imposing family… taking over this world [from] the actual natives of Arrakis, the Fremen. So a lot of the symbolism you can say is critiques on colonization,” Mills said. 

“Dune” brought in new fans through a few exciting aspects, such as casting many stars. HBO Max strongly advertised Zendaya through posters, teasers, and trailers as viewers awaited the film, but many fans were disappointed to see how rarely she was featured on screen. 

“I was very surprised… she was in all the promotional material,” Peck said. 

Through a movie reaching over 2 ½ hours in length, Zendaya only appeared in about 7 minutes of screen time. While this disappointed many fans and new viewers, her absence could be credited to the pacing of the book. 

“Zendaya’s character isn’t really in the book until 250 pages in anyways. So it does make sense,” Mills said. 

Loyal fans recognized that pacing versus accuracy was a difficult balance to strike. In order to remain true to the book, the film needed to make sacrifices. 

“They’re very accurate, but I don’t like that they didn’t get to the best character which is definitely Zendaya’s character… we only barely [saw] her,” Stevenson said. 

Zendaya’s character is expected to have more screen time in the next movie, covering the second part of the book. The release of “Dune: Part 2” has already been confirmed and is set to come out on October 20, 2023. 

“It’s a huge book. It’s really complicated, so it’s really hard to adapt on screen in one movie…  I understand why they made it into two [films],” Mills said. “I’m really excited for the second part.”