Fans of Frank Herbert’s 1965 classic science fiction novel Dune should be pleased to learn that a remake of the movie has been announced under the directorship of Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario).
Director David Lynch released the original screen adaption of the novel in 1984, but failed to make it a success. Tainted by this early adaption, Dune was forced to stand on its own literary merit. And stand it did. To fully appreciate the sophistication of Dune, however, one must read the original text itself —in some cases multiple times, depending on how much intellectual energy one invests.
Here is why such an undertaking is more than just time spent; it’s time invested. At the center of the story of Dune is a young boy of royal descent named Paul Atreides, who experiences a series of transformative events that lead him to an awareness of his life’s purpose — or “ terrible purpose,” as he calls it. The novel is set thousands of years in the future in a galaxy far from our own in an era when organic beings are cognitively evolved far beyond our present capacity. Paul and his family move to the desert-planet, Arrakis, the most precious planet in the Universe—home of the life-enhancing substance known as melange.
However, dark conspiracies await his family, and his coming to Arrakis had been foreseen by the mysterious and oppressed natives of the planet, called Fremen. In a journey beyond his expectations, Paul is forced to embrace the complexities of his destiny and the terror and danger it involves. Paul’s mother, Jessica, trained him in the secrets of her sisterhood and taught him the subtle mind-tools of manipulation and self-control. With his mother’s assistance, Paul voyages beyond conventional perception and awakens to his profound fate, becoming a character conceivable only in the designs of the human imagination.
Unlike traditional sci-fi stories that tend to get weighed down in dense explanations on space-travel and futuristic technology, Herbert uses Dune primarily as a platform to explore his own ideas and the motives of his characters. With Paul’s story as a backdrop, Herbert explores culture, philosophy, religion, psychology, existentialism, ecology and science.
Through Dune, Herbert challenges our belief in theological constructs such as faith, prophecy, revelation and salvation. He invites us on a pilgrimage to contemplate the esoteric forces at play in the matrix of our lives. He compels us to reevaluate our appreciation for sentience and attempts to solicit from us an emotional response regarding our own planet and the importance of its vitality. Hailed as a “ triumph of the imagination,” Dune has made an indelible impact on the world of science fiction.
Some even regard concepts in Dune with biblical reverence, which provide an approach to spirituality and a means of contextualizing the infinite. Graceful in its prose, riddled with transcendent wisdom and provocative in its analyses of truth, Dune offers a rich narrative loaded with the necessary elements of literature and a cogent spiritual framework derived from the author’s own metaphysics. Dune is both a story and a journey; it is a tale of hardship and a dialectical treatise on the philosophy of being.