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Victoria Reviews “Dune”

Written by: Victoria Alexander | November 3rd, 2021

Film Poster: DUNE
Film Poster: DUNE

Dune’s messiah is a 14 year old scrawny boy. He’s the prettiest and his best friend picks him up like a ragdoll. If you can ignore Paul, Dune is a mesmerizing visual triumph even though the caste system and greed still dominate the landscape. I worry about the sandworms.

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is the boy heir to House Atreides. His father, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), adores the boy even though he is always sleepy, anorexic and spoiled by his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Jessica belongs to the powerful Bene Gesserit, an all-female monastic sect. She defied her Order by giving Duke Leto a son and teaching the boy the secret powers of her sect and the vocal tones that make things fly and people obey all commands. Jessica is not Duke Leto’s wife but his concubine. Is there an official, perhaps political wife somewhere? Why was the Duke not allowed to marry Jessica?

Paul is too pretty to be a warrior and his lack of physical virility is going to be a problem for the Atreides dynasty.

The casting of formidable Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista will demand Chalamet’s Paul becoming a fiery messiah worth following. While the last messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, has been idealized as a gentle being, he must have had a dynamic, forceful personality to drive out devils, heal the sick and command a following. Will Chalamet transform into a leader?

“Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:22.

Let’s not forget, Moses was a murderer.

I haven’t read the 1965 book “Dune” by Frank Herbert and it should not be mandatory to see this version of DUNE.

All the rich Houses control planets serving the Emperor’s directives. The most essential element in the Universe is called “spice” and it is only found on Arrakis, a planet of sand. “Spice” is hallucinatory and supplies the means of interstellar travel. Planets can be conquered using spice and populations can be controlled or destroyed. Spice has hallucinatory properties which means everyone living on Arrakis is high all the time. What kind of Reality are they living in?

When your eyes turn blue, you have entered Spice Reality.

Film Image: DUNE
Film Image: DUNE

The Emperor has deposed Arrakis’s greedy overlord, the Harkonnen, in favor of House Atreides. The Harkonnen had become enormously wealthy producing spice but the Fremen, the native people of the planet, are fighting against the tyranny and oppression they have been living under. Duke Leto is supposed to keep spice production on schedule while quelling any dissension. He arrives with Paul, Jessica and an army.

Arriving with a well-armed army does not endear the rebel Fremen to the Duke.

Is spice like our table salt or chocolate? Throughout history, salt has been the engine behind empires and revolutions. Once chocolate was discovered it was reserved only for Aztec royalty.

If the Fremen want to end spice production by transforming the planet into an agricultural world, would that mean interstellar travel would end and the hallucinatory effects of spice would leave everyone in the Universe facing a dull, dreary Reality? What happens to the sandworms without sand?

Are the sandworms annoyances or do they have a function? What do they bring to the production of spice? Without the sandworms, would spice cease? Are they part of the spice eco-system?

These are questions left unanswered by DUNE.

The blue people of Arrakis have been staging a losing but constant revolt against the “invaders.” While the Duke intends to form an alliance, the blue people are working to begin a farming project and transform Arrakis into a sustainable planet. But doesn’t that mean removing spice from the air and what about the sandworms?

I worry about the rights of the sandworms. It’s their planet.

Did I miss the part where some minor character explained the sandworms? Do the worms have any role in spice production? Living in a hallucinatory reality has not affected spice production. So what does spice’s hallucinatory properties offer the ordinary people of this Universe?

Why would the Powers That Be (perhaps initially led by Weinstein the Terrible) who anointed Zendaya a superstar allow her to get top billing in a movie where she is briefly seen as Chani, a no nonsense freedom fighter unless she was guaranteed a significant part in DUNE Part 2? The claim that DUNE began and ended production without Part 2 planned makes Zendaya’s casting rather ludicrous. Though denied, DUNE Part 2 must have been set from the very beginning. Or were the sets broken down and the costumes repurposed after production of DUNE ended?

Film Image: DUNE
Film Image: DUNE

Without a planned Part 2, why would DUNE’S screenwriters, Villeneuve, Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, leave the film without a resolution?

Imagine THE MATRIX ending with Morpheus offering Neo either the red or blue pill?

To address the lack of finality with DUNE, DUNE PART 2 is now set for October 2023. And then, depending on its box office, Villeneuve would consider DUNE MESSIAH.

Chalamet is the future of male superstardom. But once his core devotees abandon teenage idolatry, will he be transformed into an action star with grit and a sex drive? Or will he remain the incarnation of Jim Morrison circa 1967?

Will Chalamet leave his current ambiguous cinematic sexuality for the standard Hollywood model? Or will 2023 bring a messiah who is bisexual conforming to the present ideology on fluid identification? Gossip continues to report the bad behavior and high-strung diva attitude of Chalamet. Maybe Method Acting has creeped into his real life.

Villeneuve’s vision for DUNE is breathtaking. Clearly, future mankind is not interested in “stuff.” Decorated palaces are déclassé. It’s all massive walls without knickknacks identifying an era in time. Stars never bring sunlight. The sky is gray and the buildings are enormous structures honoring Nazi concentration camp symbolism. Spice’s main function appears to ignite the lust for power but without spiritual congress with a divine force.

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Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com. For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/victoria-alexander/movies. Victoria Alexander contributes to Films in Review (http://www.filmsinreview.com), Film Festival Today (http://filmfestivaltoday.com) and Las Vegas Informer (LVInformer.com).

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