Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dune: Books and films



The Trek discussion started on April 4 started to get quite off-topic (see last few comments there), so I thought I'd make a new post for the Dune comments, if anyone has any. The last thing I said about it was that I think that the Lynch film might have been better received by people who had read the novel even though the film diverged in some strange ways from the book.


For example, that whole "weirding module" thing in the movie, employing sound as a weapon, was not an element of the novel. I think that they probably just needed some way to depict the "weirding way" on screen and resorted to something quite visual and easy to understand, since the nature of the "way" in the book is rather vague in its particulars and doesn't present much to look at.  Also, the depiction of the Harkonnens, with the Baron's skin disease and the slaves with the heart plugs, is much more grotendous in the Lynch film than in the novel. In the book, they are plenty evil and the Baron is fat and drifts along on suspensors, but they aren't as over-the-top gross. For the film, however, those visual things really helped make the point quickly that these guys are the villains and that they are highly dangerous and batshit crazy to boot. It works and is fun to watch. Indeed, I liked it so much that I routinely quote the Baron's lines from the Lynch movie in regular day-to-day conversation. You'd be surprised how often around here there is cause for me to yell, "The forms of kanly have been obeyed!"

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15 comments:

derekjgoodman said...

I've seen from previous blogposts that you've read some of the KJA and Brian Herbert books in the series. I haven't gotten around to it. Are they worth seeking out?

Also, I want to try reading Hunters of Dune so I tried to finish off Herbert's original series. I got stuck on Children of Dune when it started to get hardcore weird, but since I'd seen the movie I figured I could just skip ahead to the fourth book. Surprise, surprise, God Emperor of Dune was an even tougher slog. Are the last two original Dune books the same way? And would I be able to pick up Hunter's of Dune without having read the last two in the original series?

Nithska said...

I loved Dune: one of the great books of SF. And I haven't been able to get through any other of Herbert's books, Dune sequels or otherwise. I dig the Lynch film: Sting was too cool, yeah? And I thought it was a good poetic accompaniment to the movie. The more recent SF channel movies were closer to the books and I enjoyed them but am less inclined to go back and rewatch. Last, why can't anyone get the ornithoptors right?! :)

Nithska said...

"It (Lynch's film) was a good poetic accompaniment to the book" I meant to write. bb

Christopher Fletcher said...

Derek,

Indeed I have read the KJA books, and I like them. They are a different kind of thing in a lot of ways than the original Frank Herbert books, but they are entertaining, epic-scale novels. They come in four different series: 1) a trilogy set shortly before the events of the original Dune; 2) another trilogy set way back in the Duniverse's prehistory which details the events of the Butlerian Jihad (these are probably the best of the bunch); 3) the "Dune 7" two-parter, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune; and 4) a new trilogy only one book of which has been released so, Paul of Dune, set after the events of the first book but before the events of Dune Messiah/Children of Dune.

As for the original Herbert books, yeah they're not real easy as the series goes on, but I would say that God Emperor is certainly the densest and least fun of all of them. You can probably skip it if you just can't stand it and go ahead to Heretics and Chapterhouse without being disoriented (since those move way ahead into the future again and make up a new trilogy when combined with Hunters/Sandworms). Heretics and Chapterhouse have some of that God Emperor-style characters-talking-about-weirdness for pages on end but there is much much more action and story in those books than in God Emperor. If you really wanted to just go straight to Hunters, you could probably get away with it without being too lost because KJA/Herbert do a pretty good job of re-capping the main events of Heretics/Chapterhouse. One pitfall I can see, however, is that Hunters/Sandworms ends up tying together a whole bunch of stuff from the Butlerian Jihad series also and I am not sure if you'd have full comprehension of that without having read that series. I think you could probably enjoy the book just fine, but probably not really "get" a lot of it at the end.

Christopher Fletcher said...

Brandon,

Yeah, the ornithopters. WTF? What's so hard about that? Maybe the next movie will get it right!

Christopher Fletcher said...

Brandon, on the movies I'd add that I liked the Scifi Children of Dune miniseries (combining the events of Dune Messiah and Children) a lot, and I think it has more re-watch potential than the first one they did. Susan Sarandon had a supporting role in it, and she supposedly sought it out specifically because she is a big Dune fan. Way cool! Also, I love the awesome, blood-drenched Godfather-esque sequence when--right as the Children of Dune themselves are being born--all the Atreides' enemies get whacked!

D. D. said...

One thing I liked about the remake: The fleshed out some background details, and added more to some scenes that were a bit sparse in the book, like the "Night of the Long Knives" mentioned above.

Dune is a hard thing to get into. I read the first book around twenty times before it clicked.

I wish they would make God-Emperor of Dune instead of remaking Dune.....

Christopher Fletcher said...

That's a good point, DD, about some of the film scenes being more visual than in the book. A good example of that is the sequence in the Lynch movie with the Harkonnen attack on the Atreides. It's very exciting and I can literally give myself a chill right now by just REMEMBERING how it begins with the sounds of explosions and the Atreides soldier yelling "The shield's down! The shield!" This sequence doesn't even happen at all in the novel. In the book the action skips directly from Leto being given the poison tooth by Yueh to Jessica coming out from the under the drugs in the captivity of the Baron, with the action in between not shown at all. That wouldn't have worked in a movie, however, and so the great battle scene needed to be created.

You may be the only person on earth (other than Pat and me) who has ever said that they wish they would make film of God Emperor. While there's not a lot of real action happening during vast swaths of that book, what is there is pretty wild and could be super cool on screen. If a filmmaker were to strip it down to the bones of story line (plot to assassinate the God Emperor, God Emperor fulfills destiny and sets humanity on Golden Path), and make the visuals like Arrakis and the God Emperor himself look really great, it could be awesome. The three of us would love it!

derekjgoodman said...

I actually agree with wanting to see a God Emperor movie. Part of the reason why I enjoyed the movie of Children so much was that it took the boggier elements of the book and skimmed over them, making something watchable without feeling that it was unfaithful. I think the same could easily be done with God Emperor.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Syphilis channel would touch it now. Ugh.

pateisel said...

I dig the FH series as a whole big thing. I am such a damn slow reader that it can be savored over a long time. I imagine that you, Derek, are a much faster reader and should therefore go ahead and just read it all, I mean, really, you HAVE too, in my unsought opinion. The new books are a completely different animal but super cool for the events and characters. At one point Chris and I assigned ourselves Cymec Titan names so that we would be prepared for the necessity. (Difficult not spoiling here) I have, however, been heard crabbing about the writing style. Seems like each chapter starts with a recap..."Previously, on page 132..."

The Cymecs should be the next movie...ANIME!

Christopher Fletcher said...

Pat, you are so right on that they should do those Jihad books as an anime series. I don't remember what all our cymek titan names were when we were planning that...I remember that I was considering "Monster Zero" for myself but had another idea also, and that Heather was going to be "The Seether." We need to get back to all that, because who knows when the day will come.

pateisel said...

My 'display only' copy of Dune has the cover shown above but is sadly the second printing. Found in antique store booth for $5. Cool score for a shop dominated by country home fashions.

Christopher Fletcher said...

Pat, I have one of those Dune copies like that also. Did you get yours that time when we went to that antique mall together down in south county St. Louis somewhere? I picked up a nice copy of The Exorcist on that trip. And we listened to Sonic Youth on the way down there.

Christopher Fletcher said...
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