A Dune Worth Climbing.
My thoughts on the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic story.
So many things have gone wrong these last five or six years. If it wasn’t the Pandemic and all of its associated issues regarding ignorance and disrespect, it was the stress induced by a constant news barrage recounting an endless string corrupt politicians playing power games with the lives of ordinary people hanging in the balance. So, so many things are wrong with our society, so it’s nice when something goes right. Today, that something was my first viewing of last year’s Dune, the latest, and so far, most competent treatment of the source material.
One of the problems with adapting a great work like Dune is that the influences and pace of life from which it emerged are gone and are quite foreign to us here in the 21st Century. We’ve long grown weary of the ‘white savior in a foreign land’ narrative motif, for one. For another, the themes of imperial political intrigue don’t translate well in the midst of a society of people so far removed from the realities of absolute monarchical rule over nations. Third, as we’ve grown weary of the inequities of abuse of power and reason within the realm of religion, the notion of a mythic Messiah figure come to deliver us from evil has grown evermore quaint, almost to the point of silly superstition. Dune also leans a lot on the tropes of Gothic fiction, at least as I understand the genre, and our expectations on entertainment have, I think, grown beyond the somewhat simplistic tropes inherent in the same.
When Frank Herbert was crafting the first part of his grand narrative, in the early 60s, our world was on the cusp of a great shift in thinking and understanding. We were about to be confronted by drastic shifts in racial equations, slapped in the face by the destructiveness of firmly held beliefs with regard to the animus aimed at those who tried to change life for the better, and even be challenged in the very notion of our place in the universe, by which I mean to reference the revelation of just what our planet looked like from space thanks to a single photo shot by an astronaut trying to document the relative blandness of the moon. However, Herbert would still have been relying on a literary tradition mired in deference to the traditions of the past several centuries…