Since the David Lynch’s Dune of the 70s, one narrative has been persistent in Hollywood, “Frank Herbert’s book is unadaptable.” If all we had was Lynch’s work then that would probably have been true, but when one of the best directors to break out in the 2010s, Denis Villeneuve, was tapped to helm a new adaptation series, there was hope. Then the pandemic happened and now the director fears his ode to cinema will be seen on a 6-inch phone, instead of the massive screen it was designed for.
But how sensible is it to ask millions of people to be confined in an enclosed space during a pandemic? Well, there are multiple arguments that can be made for and against what Denis has been saying as he is busy promoting the film. It is both sensible and irresponsible for him to suggest we experience the film in a theatre instead of just signing up for HBO Max.
While that is true for the US and most of Latin America where the streaming service is available, but for the rest of the world, cinema is the only option. Well, cinema and piracy through various websites, torrents is the obvious answer for the rest of the world. Still, we wanted to take a look at both sides of the arguments and see if there is some merit to what Denis has been saying for the past few months.
To Go or Not To Go to the Theatre and Watch Denis Villeneuve’s Dune
A few days ago, I was reading an article on Slash Film where the reporter tried playing a Hollier than thou act about Denis asking people to see the movie in theatres. In December 2020, when Warner Bros. announced the day and date release of their 2021 slate of movies, in theatres and on HBO Max, the director penned an open letter to AT&T and Warner Bros.
Denis was concerned about his movie and in the letter, he also mentioned the viewing audience was at a disadvantage. Some people took umbrage to that statement and pointed a finger at the director, saying he was not fighting for the fans, instead, he was doing it so more people would see his movie and he would get to make a sequel.
Well, that much is true, the Arrival director has said the sequel depends on the performance of the first Dune movie, which in itself is only half of the first book. So, the more people who see the movie in theatres, the better chances for a sequel. The reporter also took aim at Chloe Zhao and her privilege of having seen Dune in a early screening, then asking people to see it in theatres.
The thing is this, any artist wants his or her art to be seen. To see a Banksy work, you need to stumble upon it and be in the moment as the artist intended his art to be seen. Denis Villeneuve is a visionary director and he made Dune for a large screen, so people could see and appreciate the scope and scale of the world created by Frank Herbert.
No one can fault him for saying people should see it in theatres. He knows the majority will watch it on the phone. Denis said as much to Total Film, “The way it happened, I’m still not happy. Frankly, to watch ‘Dune’ on a television, the best way I can compare it is to drive a speedboat in your bathtub. For me, it’s ridiculous. It’s a movie that has been made as a tribute to the big-screen experience.”
But just because he knows people will watch it on a phone, does not mean he will have to like it. He is not forcing people to see the film in a theatre, Denis Villeneuve just wants his art viewed in a manner he intended. And let’s be honest, no one is doing anything in this world for the sole benefit of someone else. This vaccination process should tell you all you need to know about the human condition of self-service.
So, Denis Villeneuve has every right to complete his vision of the Frank Herbert book. Making a film from just one half of the book would render it incomplete and the director needs positive box office show to really make impact with the top brass. Allowing people early access to the film in their home for just $14.99 monthly subscription fee with password sharing and all the other stuff is just not good business, no matter the time or situation.
I for one am going to see the movie in theatre on 17 September. Frank Herbert’s work deserves to be made into a movie that does the world of Arrakis justice, and I believe Denis Villeneuve is the person to do it. The film is scheduled for a premiere on 17 September 2021, here in Estonia. And to see the movie I will have to show either a negative test result in the last 48 hours or a vaccination card, precautions are being taken to make sure the audiences can watch films in theatre, the way it is meant to be.
Most of the places may not have the same precautions and it is a risk assessment people have to make on their own. But calling Denis selfish for wanting people to see his movie in a theatre is just a bad argument. It is a movie for the large screen, everyone knows it is meant to be watched on the biggest screen you can find, and some can/will take the risk, while others do not have that luxury.
Make sure to keep it locked in with BAE mag for all the latest entertainment news.