Arts & Entertainment

House Atreides slays these Muskies

XU students react positively to Denis Villenue’s blockbuster sci-fi flick, Dune

By Tess Dankoski, Staff Writer

The much-awaited Dune was released for theater viewing on Oct. 22.

The movie is based on the 1965 science fiction novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert. There are a total of six books in the series. 

The story of Dune follows the intergalactic generational war between two political houses. It focuses on Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet) the 15-year-old son of Duke Leto Atreides, who struggles to find his identity in the universe. Through this, he discovers his supernatural call to leadership.

Much of the excitement surrounding Dune was the casting, with Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and many other big names filling the screen. 

“The casting was excellent,” Matthew Liskai, first-year biology major, said after seeing the movie in theaters. As someone who has read the book and is a big fan of the story, his overall opinion of director Denis Villeneuve’s casting choices was positive.

As Chalamet’s career and fan base are rapidly growing, a large portion of the buzz for this movie surrounds his onscreen presence. 

However, Liskai found that many of the other actors gave equally impressive performances. 

“My favorite cast option was not Timothée Chalamet. It was Rebecca Ferguson,” Liskai said. Her character — Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica — is written in the book as a very emotional and vulnerable person who deals with overpowering grief and fear. 

Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Denis Villenue’s Dune was a smash hit for many Muskies, especially those who enjoyed Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel.

Liskai partially expected her character to be rewritten to embody the strong-willed woman that is seen in many modern movies to counteract the traditional portrayal of women. However, he believed her character development was not compromised in order to fit this standard. 

“She was very vulnerable throughout the whole movie, which I enjoyed,” he said.

 Another notable strongpoint of the movie was its scoring. 

“The music was astounding. First of all, it was Hans Zimmer, how could it not be?” first-year music major Sara Wentzel said. 

Zimmer, who has scored many other famous action movies such as Inception and Interstellar, often uses a combination of non-traditional orchestral sounds along with strong bass to signify coming danger. 

“For example, (during a specific scene), he uses (an onscreen) noise along with violins in the background just to emphasize that something’s coming,” Wentzel said.

One criticism for Dune, which is common amongst many sci-fi stories, is that the plot was hard to follow for those who were not previously familiar with the story. 

“If I had never read the book before, the movie would be super confusing to walk into, which I think it was for a lot of people,” Liskai agreed. The books spend much more time laying out the setting than the movie does. 

“I feel like I caught on about a half an hour in,” Wentzel said, as someone who has never read the book.

Much of the appeal was not simply the plot, but also the incredible visuals that came with it. 

“I liked the movie because of its visuals, mostly, not its retelling of the story,” Liskai said.

Dune ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger, hinting at the plot to come and setting up the next movie in the series, which is scheduled to be released October 2023.

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