Frank Herbert published “Dune” in the mid-1960s, and since then the book has become a cult bestseller, synonymous with a cinematic curse. Alejandro Khodorovsky, the wizard of cinematic hallucinations, tried to make it a particularly ambitious film in the 1970s, but the attempt failed and was later immortalized in the docu-film, considered one of the most beautiful documents on cinematic failures. David Lynch was next in line and managed to complete the production, but the result was unpredictable.

The years passed, more directors drowned in the quicksand, and only now, at last, did anyone manage to meet the challenge – Dennis Willenb, who became one of the most prominent and respected filmmakers in the world of contemporary commercial cinema thanks to “Prisoners”, “Sicario” and “The Encounter”. .

Willenb, it must be said to his credit, is not an opportunist, but one of those many who grew up on the knees of the book. He always dreamed of the opportunity to bring it to the canvas, and his version is also considered close to the original.

Willenb’s adaptation refers only to the first part of the epic. A sequel will come, unless the box office performance is too disappointing. “Dune” has a dual mission: to illustrate, after all these years, that Herbert’s text can serve as the basis for a worthy film; And prove, after a few waves of Corona, that the film industry is still capable of standing on its own two feet.

The sheet is too short to summarize the film’s twisted plot. We will do this in the shortest possible way: the story takes place in the distant future, although it seems relevant to us, and follows existential and existential struggles for control between different dynasties. Inside the gallery of figures, one aristocrat stands out: a prince played by Timothy Shalama, who becomes not only a regent but also a Messiah who has the power to change the fate of the entire universe.

The imaginative plot also includes a fraternity of women with supernatural powers, giant worms and a natural resource that everyone wants to get their hands on. In contrast to the practice of science fiction films its value is not only material, but mostly spiritual and mystical. In “Dune” there are philosophical and theological reflections, and one can find in it a complement to the climate crisis and the war on terror and what not. It also has countless characters, and is played by almost every actor or actress who is currently hot.

Willenb is a director who combines the personal, the artistic and the commercial. Few like him have survived the last decade, one of the most challenging in Hollywood history. I hope he survives the next decade, and continues to direct films, and I wish he also had many heirs – but in the meantime, what lies ahead is “Dune”, and after all the expectations and investment, and despite all the talent involved in the film, the result is disappointing and difficult to reward those who sit in front of it. No less than two and a half hours.

The desire to divide the project into two parts requires Vilnav to skimp on the jug of oil and keep artillery in the warehouse. As a result, the film progresses at a slow and tedious pace, looking more like a trailer than the real thing.

The dialogues are mostly conducted in whispers, and between one whisper and another there is almost no drop of emotion. This epic is so shiny and so hollow, that at times it looks like a shampoo commercial.

Vilnav demanded that I watch a movie on the big screen, and I did, but I did not feel I was captivating any audiovisual experience. Not the directing and photography work, not the music of Hans Zimmer – nothing here is particularly impressive. All there is is sand and more sand, but there is nothing to eat. If we want to see sand, we’ll go to the sea.
Yes, there are beautiful, mesmerizing and memorable moments in the film, but most of the time it is opaque and obscure.

As in many works today, it has a smug pretense as well as exclusive elitism. His visual arrogance, and the incoherent plot, as if coming and telling us – did you not enjoy? It’s because you do not have a large enough screen, or because you did not understand the book properly, or both.

True, apart from a brave and sublimely written review in Indie Weir, most international reviews so far have spilled over into “Dune”. Perhaps with a pure heart, perhaps also in a desperate attempt to create here an event of the kind that cinema and cinema culture so desperately need at the moment.

In the spirit of the times, the film touches on a variety of topical issues, but does not really delve into them, and also presents a casting of gender and ethnic diversity. In the end, however, the focus remains most of the time on one character and one actor – Timothy Shalama, who is the most whitish kid imaginable, so as usual in Hollywood, political correctness turns out to be a hypocritical gimmick.

Painted, condescending, bloated and nothing more than preparation for a sequel. Say what you will about “Dune”, but the result is certainly amazing to embody in it all the sandy evils of Hollywood nowadays. Although the film is based on a book from the 1960s, it is not suitable for 2021. 

Avner Shavit is the film critic of Walla!

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