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Dune is one of the most important and influential works of science fiction ever written. It's certainly no wonder that attempts have been made to adapt it. And yet, efforts on both film and television have been found wanting. Dune is one of those works that some might argue is simply unfilmable. And yet, it seems there will always be those interested in trying, and Timothee Chalamet may understand why.
Yesterday we got our first look at Timothee Chalamet in the role of Paul Atreides, the first image of the new movie from Denis Villeneuve. And in that article from Vanity Fair, Chalamet explains that what appealed to him about the role was that, while the story of Dune is massive, the journey o the character of Paul Atraides is much simpler and more relatable. According to Chalamet...
The immediately appealing thing about Paul was the fact that in a story of such detail and scale and world-building, the protagonist is on an anti-hero’s-journey of sorts. He thinks he’s going to be sort of a young general studying his father and his leadership of a fighting force before he comes of age, hopefully a decade later, or something like that.
That detail and scale and world-building is a big part of why Dune has been so difficult to adapt over the years. The novel itself is massive and it's just full of information. The entire universe the story takes place in is given a depth that makes it feel very real. However, because there's so much in Dune, it's obviously been hard to find the right way to adapt it into the medium of film, which simply can't go quite that deep.
One solution that Denis Villeneuve has found is that Dune is supposed to be the first of two films. By cutting the story in half, there will simply be more time to tell the whole tale, which will certainly help. The other solution may be hinted at here by Timothee Chalamet. Perhaps, by simply focusing on the characters, the arcs of characters like Paul Atreides, the Dune movie will be able to tell an engaging story, even if it doesn't quite explain every detail of the universe that surrounds it.
But then, if you do that, you perhaps run the risk of losing the essence of Dune. Dune explores politics, religion, and even environmentalism among other topics and while you could cut some of that out to tell a more traditional character driven story, it may not still be Dune if you do that.
At this point, Dune is still scheduled for a release at the end of 2020. However, the release calendar continues to shift so fans may need to wait a little longer, before getting a chance to see if this new version of Dune has finally found the secret to the complex story.