A place to share views on this most honorable genre and its many strange and fanciful contributions to our collective imagination
Monday, May 3, 2010
I first learned of the Dune trilogy in college around 1984. A friend of mine was reading it and found it so intriguing that he would recount various aspects of the story every time I saw him for several months. He managed to read through the entire original series, I believe, which consists of 6 books by Frank Herbert, but at that time only 5 may have been published. Anyway, I really didn't pay too much attention until a few years later when Herbert passed away and the books were being featured everywhere. In a bookstore I stumbled across a compilation of quotes from Herbert's novels put together by his own son, Brian Hebert. I remember reading through it a bit and being very impressed. Some of the quotes stuck with me for a long time after and that was enough to prompt me to read the first novel of the series.
I have to admit, as a college kid I was not too politically savvy and had some difficulty following all the complex plots and counter plots in the story. But I was extremely impressed by the amount of insight that went into the whole thing. Herbert had created an alien world that did not just consist of a lot of new creatures, but a set of political, religious, economic, and environmental systems that all intertwined with each other in a way that was completely believable, even though it was completely foreign. That in itself would have been a worthy achievement, but on top of that world he then wove a well crafted and engaging science fiction story. I only read the first book in the series, but from that point considered Herbert quite a literary genius.
Dune is a difficult story to adapt to the screen due not only to its complexity but also because of Herbert's writing style. He relies a lot on the thoughts of his characters to tell the story. The first attempt at it was David Lynch's 1984 film that got pretty bad reviews, especially from fans. It wasn't the worst of movies if judged in isolation, but Lynch was not the right director for it. He was more inclined to go with his own vision rather than cater to the fan base, and it certainly did not do justice to Herbert's original. Parts of it were so dream like and disconnected that you wondered if it was the same story being told.
I recently was able to rent out a later TV mini-series presenting another adaptation of the first novel. Given the 6 hour run length, it was able to give the story a better treatment, although it certainly was not as polished a production as you might get from a Hollywood film. And as seems to happen a lot here, I have discovered that a new Dune adaptation will be coming out soon. There's no trailer at this time but should show up on this link when it comes out presumably in 2012.