Just finished reading the first Dune book, and I want to share my thoughts in relation to adaptations past and future.
Before reading the book I was familiar with it through the 1984 film adaptation, which I have seen quite a few times and am rather fond of. Suffice to say it was pretty easy to navigate through the pages of the book, as the movie is an accurate recreation of the broad strokes of the story (minus the ridiculous happy happy ending where Paul becomes a literal deity that can summon rain).
Which makes me question those who criticize the 1984 film for not being faithful to the source material. If anything this is one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen of any book, with a few instances of casting that are spot-on, like Max von Sydow, who’s perfect as Liet-Kynes, as well as Sean Young who matches Chani’s elfin face as described in the book, and Virginia Madsen is Princess Irulan, period. As for the actors who are miscast I would say Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck, who looks far too stately for a man who’s been to hell and back, but the blow is softened by Stewart’s outstanding performance.
I found Baron Harkonnen to be an oddly charming character, and since he’s described as having a basso voice, in my mind he speaks like James Earl Jones. Kenneth McMillan as the Baron Harkonnen is so over-the-top I don’t buy him as an evil genius.
Emperor Shaddam IV is described as being in his seventies yet looks no older than 35. Why did both adaptations insist on casting actors in their sixties? (José Ferrer and Giancarlo Giannini)
I’ve never seen the 2000 Syfy miniseries, but both the movie and the TV miniseries IMO got it right in having a baroque aesthetic, although from the few screenshots I’ve seen the costumes are a bit too flamboyant in the miniseries, and there are some things that don’t fit in the movie as well, such as having the Bene Gesserit women having their heads shaved completely bald, or the Sardaukar having black hazmat suits for uniforms.
Which brings me to my final point, the upcoming 2021 movie. Dune is a book that can get quite trippy and invites the reader to imagine some pretty astounding visuals. I’m not getting any of that vibe from Denis Villeneuve’s movie, where everyone is dressed in black, a bit of white or any shade of grey. Speaking of colours (or lack thereof), I don’t like the muted colour timing. From an aesthetic point of view, the sets look barren. I’m sorry, but visually, this movie looks bland and boring.
Apologies for the long post.