Revisiting Dune

Back in October, at MileHiCon, I picked up a copy of the Dune graphic novel scripted by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. As I prepared to revisit the world of the first novel, I realized it had been some thirty-eight years since I’d read the novel. The first time I read the novel was during the summer of 1984 around the same time as David Lynch’s movie adaptation came out. Since adapting a chapter of my novel Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires into comic book format, I’ve been interested in seeing how other novel adaptations are handled. So, I decided to reread Dune and then read the graphic novel. Because Dune has recently been adapted to the big screen again, I also decided to see how the new movie compared to the book.

The novel Dune is divided into three parts titled “Dune,” “Muad’Dib,” and “The Prophet.” The graphic novel is a faithful adaptation of part 1, which takes us roughly through a third of the novel. The character and machine designs were developed by the artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín. They used their own interpretation and didn’t base the art on designs used for either of the movies or the SyFy Channel’s miniseries. I found most of the characters – including our young protagonist Paul Atreides, along with his parents Duke Leto and the Lady Jessica, and Baron Harkonnen – were a good match for the way I pictured those characters when I read. Overall, I liked the way they visualized machines such as the spice harvesters on the planet Arrakis. They imagined quite bird-like ornithopters in their novel, which seemed almost closer to how I picture my steampunk ornithopters in the Clockwork Legion series than how I pictured the more high tech versions of Dune. Still, it proved a valid interpretation. I was impressed by how closely the graphic novel stuck to the novel’s plot. I didn’t notice any cut scenes. Of course, description was pared down and the art was allowed to show the settings and action while the characters spoke their dialog. I haven’t checked to see if the dialogue was word-for-word, but certainly the most memorable lines were repeated in the graphic novel. I likely will add volume 2, “Muad’Dib” to my collection as well.

Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 movie adaptation of Dune is also “part 1.” In this case, the movie includes all of “Dune” and most of “Muad’Dib.” By my reckoning the movie covers a little over sixty percent of the novel, ending around the close of Chapter 33. The movie adds some scenes not in the novel, such as the scene where a contingent arrives from the emperor to notify Duke Leto that he’s been granted stewardship of the planet Arrakis. The scene cleverly shows us many important story elements without them needing to be explained, such as the importance of the Duke’s signet ring and the political power wielded by the Bene Gesserit sisterhood. The movie also does a nice job casting characters who, for the most part, resemble characters as I imagine them. In particular, I really liked Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban. I especially liked Stephen McKinley Henderson as the Mentat Thufir Hawat, because he reminded me of my uncle. Like Hawat, my uncle had a distinguished military career and while he was very loving to me, I always detected that there was a fierce commander underneath. As for the tech, I really liked the movie’s depiction of the ornithopters. These machines captured almost exactly what I pictured when I read the book. Given that the movie didn’t try to cover the entire novel and that the graphic novel did a very good job of including scenes of political intrigue, I was a little disappointed that many scenes from the novel were cut from the movie. Overall, the movie did a good job of telling the novel’s story, but it felt like it favored action over the complex machinations of many parties shown in the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed both the graphic novel adaptation and the movie, but I’m especially glad the two gave me an excuse to reread Frank Herbert’s classic novel. If you want to read my comic adaptation of a chapter from Dragon’s Fall, visit http://davidleesummers.com/Tales-of-the-Scarlet-Order.html to learn how to get a copy for yourself. If you want to see a scene from my novel The Astronomer’s Crypt adapted for the screen for free, visit http://davidleesummers.com/Astronomers-Crypt.html

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