Dune

The Book

Last week, I finished Dune by Frank Herbert, which was #2 on my book list. After hearing so many people proclaim it as one of their favorite books, I was really excited to read it. After my letdown with Neuromancer, though, I was a little skeptical. I’m very happy to say that Dune did not disappoint. I loved it. 🙂

DuneDune is set thousands of years in the future, during a time of interstellar travel and feuding houses. It tells the story of Paul Atreides, who is heir of House Atreides. Following the Emperor’s orders, Paul and his family are sent to control the desert planet Arrakis, which is the only source of the “spice” melange (a super valuable drug that improves mental abilities and prolongs life). Arrakis had been under the control of the Harkonnens (a long-time rival of the Atreides), however, so the transfer in power only increases the tension and hostility between the two houses.

Some people have said that Dune was a slow and difficult to get into. I felt immersed right away, though I would agree that the book really picks up toward toward the end. Others complained about the made-up words, but those words were usually given definitions and/or enough context to figure out what the words meant. Besides, there was a handy glossary in the back for looking things up. 

Dune is often referred to as science-fiction’s answer to The Lord of the Rings. I haven’t read LotR yet (*gasp!*), but I can see why people probably say that. Dune is the first book in an epic saga that has amazing world-building and intriguing characters.

For people who like fantasy, I think Dune would be a great sci-fi book choice. I felt like the science and technology really took a backseat to the main story. Dune wasn’t overly technical or futuristic, which has helped keep it stay relevant in the nearly 50 years since it was published. There’s more to the book than just sci-fi, too; there are political, environmental, and religious themes.

The Movie

The movie version of Dune, on the other hand, was terrible. There were so many things wrong with it, but I’ll just mention some of the ones that really stood out to me.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Dune Guild Navigator
Dune Guild Navigator

First, what the heck was up with the Guild navigators? They weren’t ever encountered in the book and I don’t remember there being much of a physical description (although I’m sure there will be in the later books), but I certainly didn’t expect a bizarre giant slug-like creature.

While Baron Harkonnen is supposed to be obese, they made him absolutely ridiculous in the movie. He was grotesque and filthy, with disgusting pustules all over his face. His character was insane and unstable and not at all the clever, plotting antagonist I expected. They also added the concept of “heart plugs” to the movie, which allowed the Baron to kill his servants at will. And what on earth was with making Thufir Hawat milk a cat to get an antidote for the poison he’s not supposed to know about? Omfg.

Jamis was removed entirely from the movie, along with Paul’s son, and I think even Count Fenring. I can see them leaving out Paul’s son, but not including the fight with Jamis seemed like a misstep to me.

Shields in Dune
Shields in Dune. There’s a person under there somewhere.

I know that Dune (the movie) was made in the 80’s, but the shields were just plain awful. The inner monologues were done poorly, too.

The fighting in the movie was completely off. They made up some voice-activated “weirding modules” that Paul taught the Fremen how to use. The Fremen didn’t need any weapons like that in the book; they were fierce, bad-ass fighters all by themselves. They certainly weren’t the weak, impressionable people the movie made them out to be.

Perhaps my biggest complaint about the movie was the ending. Paul certainly didn’t have the power to alter the weather and make it rain in the book. And even if he did, he would never do it because that would kill the sandworms and screw up everything on Arrakis. Wtf.

Overall, the movie really lacked the depth that existed in the book and it seemed to make a mockery of it. It glossed over important parts of the book and didn’t offer any explanations for crucial parts of the story. I doubt I would’ve wanted to read the book after seeing the movie.