Should you watch Frank Herbert’s novel before watching the film?


Newcomers to Dune have asked if the film is a worthy introduction to the franchise or if they should read Frank Herbert’s novel before hitting theaters.

Dune: part one, Denis Villeneuve’s visual version of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, is currently in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Understandably, since its theatrical release, a lot of attention has been paid to the already acclaimed book series. After an incredible opening weekend that drew mixed reviews for the film, there’s a question on everyone’s mind: what’s the best way to experience Dune for the first time?

The easy answer is to read the books first. Live-action adaptations have a well-deserved reputation for falling short of their literary predecessors. Books and movies are very different forms of media, and trying to adapt one medium to another is sure to slip some information through the cracks. The standard runtime of films is nowhere near enough to incorporate all the facets of the fantasy worlds of sci-fi novels, and this forces directors to make changes to the story they are adapting; changes that most often upset die-hard fans. But the Dune the movie may be the rare case where watching it the first night is the best choice. Here’s why.

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Sand worm of the dunes Denis Villeneuve 1

Dune: part one liberally adapted about half of the novel that launched the Dune saga. Like his raw material, he had the monumental task of setting up the vast Dune the universe but within the constraints of cinema. To achieve this, many of the elements that characterize a good story are sacrificed. There is little character development, and even at the end of it, there is little emotional connection between the audience and the characters.

The preview Dune the universe animated by Villeneuve is more than enough to whet a newcomer’s appetite. The films’ almost documentary style doesn’t allow for a deeper dive into any of the rich cultures it addresses, but it sets the stage for an incredibly diverse universe and hints at a great story begging to be told. within it. A concrete narrative may not yet have been established, but the film’s cliffhanger ending has practically confirmed a second part. A little more time to explore the universe and the characters in detail might appease most of the critics of the first film.

Dune is without a doubt a great movie, in large part because of its stellar cinematography. It’s not a bright, colorful film, but Greig Fraser does some magic with a limited color palette. Most of the film takes place on the planet Arrakis, a giant desert that allows for truly stunning backgrounds. The non-desert sets are also each memorable in their own right. Dune is beautifully shot, without losing a single frame.

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Timothée Chalamet in Dune

Another Dune highlight is Paul Atreides, the main character. From the start of the film, he is presented as the heir to great powers, both metaphysical and political. This unique combination of abilities / responsibilities, along with his enigmatic personality and dire circumstances, make Paul the most compelling character in the film. The audience might not care about him, but he still finds himself invested in Paul’s journey and anticipating his next steps.

As such, newcomers should definitely watch the movie first. Watching Dune first of all has the additional advantage of making the books more immersive; Denis Villeneuve and Greig Freiser show readers what the world looks like. Therefore, imagining the characters in it will be much easier.

Whoever has already read the book will find Dunelack of action and repetitive info-dumping. Reliving the experience just for the movie to regurgitate the same information can make the viewing experience disappointing, especially since the movie ends just as the action peaks. However, a newcomer to the series will likely be hungry for more Dune content, which can be found very easily in books. With Dune such a phenomenal work of art, it might be best to appreciate if viewers enter without prior knowledge of Herbert’s book.

To see the magnificent cinematography of the film, Dune is now in theaters and on HBO Max.

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