Excluding Children of Dune miniseries from this comparison.
Dune 1984 is my standard and yes it's--yeah insert quite a bit here--but it's gorgeous and it looks and feels like epic scifi in the very epic future. Whatever the fuck was going on with the script (cocaine probably?) David Lynch created a visual spectacle that pretty much makes you not care wtf was going on. Gurney, Stilgar, the Emperor, and Beast Rabban were incredibly good casting and Baron Harkonnen is fucking legendary and memorable.
The miniseries, though way more accurate, suffered from both some very weird choices of color (I always remember it as orange even though it wasn't actually all orange), some very weird acting choices, and some very questionable choices of actors: Chani was maybe the only flawless choice and outdid Dune 1984 by a mile.
That said: I cannot deny that Kyle McLachlan as Paul Atreides worked very well--about ten times better than the miniseries--but also has the same problem: both actors were old to play Paul and I don't mean chronological age; both visually and how they're performed, they acted like full adults and Paul--well, wasn't.
Feel free to disagree with any of this; there are a lot of perspectives on what Dune was doing and why.
If you've read Dune, that's kind of part of the point: Paul is modeled Young Male White Savior archetype come to Save the Downtrodden (Probably Brown) People as well as the Magical Boy Savior. As is the White Savior Way, he joins the Downtrodden like one of them but keeps his Essential Savior Self.
The last part both happened and--not like it was supposed to with the archetype. Paul resocialized to Fremen pretty much entirely, which happened very much because of how young he was, which you see in Dune but really shows in Dune Messiah when he's Emperor.. By the rules of the archetype he should now hover gracefully between two worlds but obviously more of the Better Whiter World that is his birthright. Instead, he's Stranger in a Strange Land pretty much constantly and worse, literally no one actually seems aware of this (but maybe Chani). Paul pretty much has two major desires in Dune Messiah: a.) escape his visions that are driving him crazy and also maybe creating unbreakable predestination for the universe, and b.) go home to the desert where it's normal and sane. And he'd probably settle for the latter if he could work out how.
(If you've read the books, you know this formula goes sideways very fast on all the other points as well and keeps going, and it's not exactly easy to do when the characters win. Herbert made some missteps (a lot) and got some sketchy bits (...yeah), but he went all-in making the point This Archetype Is a Terrible Idea Okay This Will Not End Well (And Leads to Emperor Worm HAHAHA).)
(Note: I do forgive a lot for the creation of the Bene Gesserit. Yes, I know the problems with it at inception and in the first books--though I still love them because holy shit they basically rule the universe secretly--but if you manage to get to Heretics of Dune, it fixes most of the problems and gives a very interesting perspective on earlier events. And I understand a lot better why they probably roll their eyes whenever someone brings up Jessica. Also the Bene Gesserit taught me you do not need to be born with superpowers; all that's needed is intensive training and you can develop them on your own. God I want to be Bene Gesserit.)
When I found out Timothée Chalamet was playing Paul, I got super interested, since he also played King Henry V in The King, which is about another boy king. And watching the trailer--yeah, that's Paul. He looks like a too-serious kid being raised to reign over a powerful duchy but still unclear about what it means to rule (then again, Leto Atreides never learned that either).
Jason Mamoa as Duncan Idaho just--oh hell yes please. He's going to define Duncan Idaho in film forever, that's just fact; literally can't think of another actor who could come close. This also means if they make more Dune movies, please God, we get him back forever because Duncan Idaho is a perpetual argument on the drawbacks of reincarnation and how that, too, can go so very wrong.
Rabban looks epic, and Oscar Isaac is going to define Leto Atreides after this.
Now my favorite part.
I am incredibly into the casting of Liet-Kynes (Sharon Duncan_Brewster). The actress is incredibly striking, for one, but the genderswitch in itself fascinates me because a.) it literally changes nothing whatsoever as far as plot goes (there is no penis requirement whatsoever in anything Liet-Kynes does) and b.) it adds a huge amount in background and history and makes it much, much richer.
For one, the job of Imperial Planetologist is a hereditary position but also a job which requires study and work; Liet-Kynes is the child of Pardot Kynes the Imperial Planetologist, and a Fremen woman. It's fairly rare--though slowly becoming less so--that media has a woman explicitly follow in her father's footsteps as far as job goes; that's almost always the son doing it, or someone son-adjacent. If it is done, it's a Thing That Must Be Explored Because Strange (girl doing traditionally male work).
For another, in the context of Dune, Pardot Kynes' marriage to a Fremen is pretty much considered mixed-race (and very, very, very mixed-culture; lets remember the history of the Fremen is being driven out of and chased from world to world for like centuries, maybe millennia, before they got to Dune). Historically, while boys from a mixed-race marriage (when the father is from the dominant race/culture) can--sometimes--be treated as if they are of the dominant race/culture (with limits), girls almost never are. Boys are also way more likely to be fully accepted by the non-dominant race/culture (like, most of the time); for girls, it's a crapshoot.
Liet-Kynes is Fremen: she was born and raised Fremen, married a Fremen, had a daughter with a Fremen (Stilgar is Chani's uncle, so I assume his brother) so is also a mother, and is a full member of a Fremen tribe. She was also educated by the Empire, became Imperial Planetologist by the Emperor's order after her father's death, and was appointed Judge of the Change by the Emperor when the Atreides take over Dune.
So Liet-Kynes being a woman combines at least three things we don't see much of at the best of times and I'm not sure have ever actually ever existed together in one character, plus at least a couple of things I'm not sure have ever been on-screen, and that's just the bits I can unpack clearly. Like, that's goddamn awesome in itself, but it adds a lot more layers to Chani as well.
I am way more interested in Liet-Kynes than I have ever been before and am really looking forward to what the actress is going to do with the character. Posted at Dreamwidth: https://seperis.dreamwidth.org/1083286.html. | You can reply here or there. | comments