East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Pizza & Spice: the obligatory Dune post

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And so last night, limping and short of breath, I joined my brother and our friends for a night out at the movies. We opened with an excellent (as usual) pizza at Casablanca’s, and then went to the Sociale, Nizza Monferrato’s oldest cinema, to watch Villeneuve’s Dune.

This was our first movie outing in over 18 months and there were seven people in the cinema last night – five of us, plus two other punters.

The movie was quite good. I cannot say I am a huge Dune (the novel) fan, the kind that can write you down the formula of the Melange molecule (I met a few who could); I read it first in Italian when I was in high school, and then again in English a few yeas later. It is a genre milestone, it features at least one of the best written scenes in the history of SF, and while the following books slowly spun out of control, the first novel in the series is a solid book and well worth reading.
And I had been waiting for this movie for a long time.

I saw both the Lynch film and the TV miniseries, and I appreciated them both for all of their limits; while I know the story behind the failed Jodorowski adaptation, I am not one of those that cry nightly for the missed opportunity. Some things just don’t happen.

As for Denis Villeneuve, I liked both his Blade Runner sequel and Arrival. He’s a strong director with an obvious aesthetic, and so I expected a good movie. I was not disappointed.

The film has a great cast (even Jason Momoa, somewhat miscast, works just fine), excellent music, and puts on screen images that are both faithful to the book and fresh. This being only the first part of the novel (that was indeed published as two novellas), we end on a cliffhanger, after the major conflicts have been set up and all the pieces placed on the chessboard.

Having to single out a few bits and pieces, I really appreciated the design of the sets and the machines, with its almost-brutalist feel, and the costumes. The combats were nicely choreographed. Among the actors, I liked the performances of Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Liet-Kines (Halleck and Kines are also possibly my favorite characters in the books), but the whole cast is incredible.
And I did have a “Oh, mi god, is that Charlotte Rampling?!” moment.

So now we’ll wait for the sequel – actually the conclusion to the story.
I admit I am impatient.

In the meantime, it’s been mildly amusing to see the fandoms of other franchises act hysterical – because we live in this strange world in which intellectual properties are turning into religions, and see the appearance of anything other than more of the same as reason enough to launch a crusade.
But that was, alas, only to be expected.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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