Dune: the Space Opera of Epic War

The Most Anticipated Films of 2021

Dune becomes one of Hollywood’s most anticipated films of 2021 as a space opera movie of an epic war. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, he adapts Frank Herbert’s wildly popular novel of the same name. Additionally, well-known Hollywood actors and actresses who have been on the rise in recent years have also starred in the film. The synopsis tells the story of the Atreides family, ordered by the emperor to take care of the planet Arrakis, aka Dune. Filled with deserts containing a spice that can prolong human life, their presence in Arrakis creates a conflict. They conflict with the Harkonnen family, who previously ruled the planet, and still want power.

The main focus of the film is on Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet. He is the son and potential successor of the Atreides family. He often has dreams about his future in Arrakis because he has the blood of Bene Gesserit from his mother. In his dream, he also became part of a local tribe called Fremen. The Atreides family jumped in to take care of Arrakis not long after the dream. The conflict came when the Atreides family arrived in Arrakis. The Harkonnen family, as the previous administrators, still want to be in power. They also still want to manage all the spices on the planet, bringing huge profits to him, causing various problems, forcing Paul and his mother to travel to the Fremen tribe for help.

The Building of Villeneuve’s Dune

A castle intrigue in an English academic setting with sweeping desert views sits at the heart of this thrilling space epic. The battle scenes scorch billions of characters at the hands of Villeneuve, an imagination rich in detail and evocative of eye-catching imagery. Creepy space nuns in robes billowing down from towering spaceships. However, Dune pulls a fever-dream with the image of contemporary medieval culture. There were Berseker soldiers making blood sacrifices before donning rockets and interplanetary treaties under the banners of the factions. With chorus pulsating scores and nerve-wracking percussion by Hans Zimmer, it hypnotizes the wailing sound, and the audience’s expressions sink in.

While the film’s primary focus is on constructing sci-fi, epic war, and space opera, Dune explains in detail the terms and other essential aspects of the universe throughout the film. Villeneuve did that so that audiences who had never read the novel could still understand the film’s universe when watching the movie. In addition to successfully building the world neatly, the audience will understand, guaranteed, those who have never read the novel.

The Concept of Dune

The setting’s decorations vaguely include a motif of ancient colonialist factions fighting. The space opera of Dune highlights an eternal drive of epic war in enslaving and conquering lines from the past to the future. The trashing of desert resources always resonates with exploitation to the entire setting along with manipulation. Critics can relate the theme of colonialism, the Gulf War, the Crusade War, or Paul, who jihad on the battlefield. There is inspiration from the Vietnam War or the Cold War, channeling many other epic war films such as Apocalypse Now, Lawrence of Arabia, or other anti-war films with a sense of tragedy.

With the film’s overall concept at the end, even though people will be confused when first watched it. However, world development is at a languid pace, too, so the story takes much time to deepen the characters. People will say it is becoming less unique. Despite being the first part, the film only takes the novel’s first half of the story. Villeneuve also intends to continue into the sequel, the second part.

The Well-known Actors in Arrakis

Several well-known Hollywood actors and actresses starred in Dune, such as Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, to Zendaya. People can say they are successful and fit to play their respective characters in the film. However, the characterizations in the movie are bland and less intense. There is no emotional bond between the characters, and the audience is not the correct language. It is more like a brief introduction, but the snap of a finger can kill characters between characters. Given that the film is an introduction, the lack of emotional attachment may not be in the second part. The audience is also more familiar with the characters, and the journey is full of drama.

Villeneuve is a sci-fi genre that relies on CGI visual effects. Throughout the film, the audience witnessed many CGI scenes, from shields in the form of energy protecting the body to planes that resembled space dragons. Apart from the CGI quality that looks real, the visuals are also stunning and spoil the eyes from various panoramas. Planet Arrakis, a desert region, has a stunning landscape. Likewise, the costume design gives a sci-fi feel, especially the stillsuits, explicitly used for wandering in the desert.

The Sequel

While the vision of the future bothers the young prince and the audience, the idea leads to the sequel part. At first, it is more interesting than having to drag on into the first part. With an ending that prompts the next story, Villeneuve may start producing in late 2022 if the first film is successful. Audiences will probably wonder if he has shot the two films together if it is far from guaranteed against a pandemic or release via a potential takedown of streams.

In 1984, David Lynch had time to work on the film Dune, becoming a science-fiction film franchise at the time. However, the plan failed because the first film received a very negative response from the audience and critics even though Lynch had written the script for the sequel. It is also true for Alejandro Jodorowsky, who had drawn the designs for the universe but was rejected due to time length issues. Most likely, Villeneuve will get the green light from the studio to work on the sequel. A comparison appears when the movie is a combination of Game of Thrones and Star Wars. There is a space conflict related to the throne. The franchise also stars Hollywood stars, so it is an attraction in itself.


Dune opens a new franchise of sci-fi in Hollywood. Slow pacing is not an obstacle for specific people. However, it is a new hurdle for audiences unfamiliar with the Villeneuve films, given how Blade Runner: 2049 is an excellent example of a marketing blunder. In conclusion, it becomes a superb entry for people who have never been acquainted with Herbert’s works.

A faithful yet comprehensive approach and audio-visual presentation become a heavy exposition for the most part. The film’s splendor is how the elements of politics, philosophy, psychology, and so on are disappearing little by little. It only talks about story matters; besides, the novel has a vast universe when the film does not convey everything.


About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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