Shelby Silva
For the QC

Massive sandworms destroying and devouring everything in their path, highly advanced technology used for knowledge, protection, and combat, swift transportation from one planet to another, powerful witches, evil forces that bring about death and destruction, and otherworldly beings exist under the galactic empire in the year 10,191. The highly-anticipated film, Dune, now available in theaters and HBO Max, premiered on Oct. 22 in the U.S. and has lured sci-fi fans to theaters across the nation. David Lynch directed the first ever Dune film in 1984, and both Dune films are adaptations of the Dune series first published in 1965 by Frank Herbert. Dune’s 2021 cast consists of distinguished actors such as Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, and Zendaya. With familiar faces portraying the lead characters in the film, the brilliant actors brought the epic to life through the use of felicitous costumes and electrifying performances.

Being thrown into the world of a sci-fi film may be an overwhelming and confusing experience for the audience. With a story that involves several planets, bizarre terms, strange languages, and strange life-forms, Dune is no exception, especially for those who have not read the novels. In fact, the process of constructing and depicting a galactic empire may seem like a daunting task for the director as well. However, the director, Denis Villeneuve, carefully crafted a cohesive narrative that dived deep into the details of the plot without overdoing it. With modern filmmaking tools such as new special effects, Dune reflects the director’s effort to live up to the expectations of fans by doing the novels justice. 

The film focused on introducing characters and explaining the issues that arose from oppression, politics, and power dynamics that would help drive the plot forward. Specifically, the film revolves around the House of Atreides, ruled by Duke Leto, and its journey to the planet Arrakis. Before the House of Atreides were given the order by the emperor to rule Arrakis, the House of Harkonnen controlled and terrorized Arrakis and its people, the Fremen. House Harkonnen was ruled by Vladimir Harkonnen and he did everything necessary to gain power by eliminating threats or rivals, scheming and plotting against enemies, and asserting their power through force. The Harkonnens were furious that they had to leave Arrakis because they monopolized melange, an important spice that exists in Arrakis, and maintained power. While conflict stirred in the empire, conflict also stirred within the life of Duke Leto’s son and protagonist, Paul Atreides. Timothée Chalamet portrays Paul Atreides, and plays the role of an underdeveloped hero who is destined for greatness. Troubled with ambiguous visions of a mysterious girl with vivid blue eyes, unrefined powers, and cryptic messages in dreams; Paul’s journey is only beginning by the end of the film. Among other protagonists in many novels and films, Paul is associated with prophecies and seen as “The One.” However, Paul still has room to grow and learn the ways of the empire and planets. 

Dune contains several elements, archetypes, tropes, and themes that one would expect from an epic sci-fi film. Doom, deception, betrayal, risks, sacrifices, power struggles, and high stakes, to name a few causes for conflict in the film, emerged from intertwined lives and interaction between all types of life-forms in the galactic empire. Dune deals with sci-fi themes such as uncertainty of the future, the fate of humanity, the greediness that exists in several beings, expanding human control over space, transcending the barriers that exist between beings from different planets, the complex nature of a galactic empire, and like many other sci-fi narratives, peace as  an unattainable dream, ideal, illusion, and a fantasy.

It was the extraordinary cinematography and stimulating music score, however, that captivates the audience and enriches the cinematic experience. The use of cross cut transported the audience to different scenes that take place at the same time but in different spaces with different characters. The use of cross cut in Dune provided the audience with the right amount of necessary information, while still making the action easy to follow and process. Dune smoothly alternated between emotional states depending on the scenes, switching from an exhilarating action scene to a tragic scene. Enthralling music accompanied scenes where intense action appeared, battles took place, specific characters appeared, and Paul had visions, which amplified the emotional effect and overall mood. As expected of the brilliant music film composer, Hans Zimmer, who has composed music scores for films such as The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar, contributed to Dune’s greatest aspects. Haunting chanting and whispering, space-like sounds, deep cries and shouts layered over percussion, deep, rich strings and bold wind instruments paired with shrill strings, intensified and enhanced the atmosphere of particular scenes throughout the film.

In several ways, the film ended at a place where everything was finally starting to be pieced together and as soon as the film started gaining momentum. The ending felt unsatisfying, leaving the audience craving for more action and with the question — what is next? After all, this film is only part one of the full story in relation to the adaptation of the novels. This first part of Dune focused more on building the cinematic sci-fi realm for the audience to immerse oneself into by providing necessary context and historical insight. Fortunately, Warner Bros. and Legendary Picture Productions confirmed Dune’s sequel, which will be released on Oct. 20, 2023. The ending of Dune left me pondering on questions: Which visions that Paul had will come true? Did any of his visions accurately predict the future? Will Paul live up to the expectations that come with being “The One?” Hopefully, the sequel will provide the audience with answers regarding the continuation of Paul’s journey and the fate of the galactic empire. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Future of the Force.


In collaboration by Quaker Campus staff members.

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