How the film “Dune” stacks up against the book

By Melica Mahmoudi

“Dune” is a 1965 science-fiction novel written meticulously by author Frank Herbert. The “Dune” series consists of six books, along with a separate lengthy prelude series. The story of “Dune” is set amongst many different planets in a far away galaxy in the far future, with each planet having its own unique purpose. 

Planet Arrakis is where Paul Atreides and his family reside and rule. Both the book and the movie look to tell the story from Paul’s perspective. From a young age, Paul is noted as the chosen one whilst he continuously dreams these bizarre ideas of a young girl with striking, but odd colored blue eyes on the desert planet which was filled with a mysterious looking sand. 

The desert planet is also popularly known as Dune. Dune is heavily populated with melange, a spice that has extreme value since the humans are violently addicted to it. The spice alters users in a way that makes them less humanlike. It can turn the eyes blue, as it does to those who live on the planet. The bluer one’s eyes are, the more addicted they are to melange even though the withdrawals of the spice are unbearable. 

The main reason why Paul’s family wants to land on Dune is to gain control of melange. Since the spice is extremely valuable, whoever controls Dune controls the money coming out of the spice trade.  

This background knowledge is essential to have for the film as that background is consistent with the book. Herbert’s novel goes into vast detail regarding the significance of melange and Paul’s journey trying to maintain peace with the natives who have settled there first, though that is glossed over in the movie. 

Many complain that Herbert’s Dune is complicated and hard to understand and keep track of events as the language is unfamiliar and terms are just casually thrown out. The glossary in the back of the book is somewhat helpful in aiding readers to comprehend the language and terms surrounding the story, however. 

Popularly, many people agree the first 30 pages of the book are the most confusing. However, once you get settled and fully understand the background of the plot and story, it gets easier to comprehend the main idea and go from there. 

After that first political introduction, the book is action-packed and much more detailed than the film. Nevertheless, the movie focuses more on cinematography and visual appeal. We get some really great shots of Paul (Timothee Chalamet) and his family. Fans were going crazy over Zendaya’s seven minute screen time for her portrayal of Chani, the mysterious girl who haunts Paul’s dreams. 

The storyline of the film was rather tricky to keep up with especially for audiences who have not yet read the book. There is no context or narration so throughout the film, many felt lost for the entire 2 hour 35 minute run-time.

Although the film doesn’t have the detail of the book, the craft of the film was extremely well done. The actors played their roles exceptionally well. Even more, the cinematic art of the movie was the best part. Most fans agree that Hans Zimmer’s composing was absolutely magical. Although the plot may have been lacking, the film offers an experience that had fans enjoying the film.

The film seems to be aimed at people who know and acquired at least some knowledge of Dune and a bit of backstory. If you go into the movie without prior knowledge, your experience will most likely not be the greatest. 

Needless to say, Herbert’s work is complicated and beautiful. Both the book and the movie have unique conceptions and provide viewers and readers a new perspective to the world of science-fiction.