I had heard good things about the new Dune movie, but I didn’t think I’d have the stamina to sit through a movie that’s almost three hours! But earlier this month, my father turned 81, and he wanted to go see the new James Bond movie — which is of comparable length. My mom asked me to take him, because she is not a Bond fan at all. I agreed: it would be fun to do something one-on-one with my dad, and it would get him out of the house.
However, logistically there were some challenges: he is almost blind — so would he be able to see anything meaningful? And with the length of the movie, we wanted to get an afternoon showing, so as to not make things too late. And since he can’t walk all that well, we also needed to find a cinema close to a parking spot. The Vue cinema in Eindhoven satisfied all the criteria, so that’s where we went.
Of course, we had to present our proof of vaccination, which is a QR code that, when scanned with the accompanying app, shows your initials and birthmonth. Very few places actually check these (so you could use someone else’s code), but here they asked for an ID so they could match this info. The lady scanning our phones saw that my father walked with two walking sticks and had some trouble moving around when searching for his ID, and she asked if we would rather use the elevator to go upstairs (where the screens are). Of course we would: the alternative was an escalator, which is kinda scary when you have to step onto it when you don’t see that well… But since the elevator was roped off because it was not part of the walking route, we needed some help to get there.
The lady simply closed the entrance and walked with us towards the elevator. Maybe that’s a small thing for her to do, but it meant a lot to us that she was willing to let other customer wait until we were on our way up. Later that week, I used the complaint form to give her a compliment for that — and her boss waved it off as “of course we do that for our customers!” but it was clear they were really happy to receive such a compliment.
The movie itself was (very) long, but there was a break in between so I could go to the toilet and get a drink refill. And I wasn’t bored a single second — it didn’t feel like three hours! I’m not going to spoil anything about the movie, other than wonder who will be the main person in the next Bond movie. It was a very satisfying end.
So emboldened by my success with the Bond movie, I proposed to Klik to go see the new Dune movie. Which we did last Sunday, in an afternoon showing.
Of course, you can’t help compare the new Dune movie to the ’85 David Lynch Dune movie. Yes, that one had its problems in following the actual plot of the book (voice weapons, anyone?), but it does show quite a few key elements. The new movie is gorgeous, and does a much better job at explaining the political background of the actions taken by the Harkonnens and the emperor — and one could easily make a case that those plot elements are exactly the core of the Dune series.
But the price we pay is that the new movie de-emphasizes the characters. You can see it in the SFX of the various infrastructure: except the ornithopters, everything is intimidatingly large, dehumanizing the people who are inside of these huge machines. You can fit a whole army in a single space transport, and they look like ants marching out — it’s not about the people, it’s about the movement of the army as a whole. And that’s also present when the characters are shown. Yes, Yessica, Leto and Paul get a lot of screentime and they have their own emotions — but ultimately, the story is not about them, but about what is going to happen to the universe as a whole.
Whereas the old Dune movie was much more character-driven: it is about Paul, who regains his footing and takes revenge on the empire for trying to wipe out his house. We see him interact much more closely with the other characters — though perhaps this is also a function of the SFX budget and technology at the time. (Though one thing in which the old Dune movie is clearly superior than the new Dune movie, regardless of your personal preference, is that the old Dune movie actually showed us a Guild Navigator!) And the uniforms are more colourful: it seems modeled after 19th century European royalty, with colorful medals and details. In the new Dune, everyone wears black at all times, which makes the movie more drab than it has to be — and again de-emphasizes the characters.
The showing turned out to be without break, but there was so much going on that we didn’t even have time to check a watch! We were a bit disoriented when we emerged from the viewing, though…