The 2021 “Dune” Movie Adaptation is Faithful to the Book and Worth the Price of Admission

The class all ready to watch the movie.

Story by Reporter Beth Jordan

Photos Courtesy of Beth Jordan

On Friday, October 30, I accompanied Dr. Dawson and several members of her Spring 2021 science fiction literature class to see the recent movie adaptation of “Dune.” Being in a theatre again felt almost surreal, especially because most of us hadn’t been in one for over a year. Aside from the mask wearing and the nearly vacant room, the smell of buttered popcorn alone reminded us of a time before the Covid shutdown, when such activities were common.

As the lights dimmed for the movie to begin, we fulfilled a plan set in motion several months prior. Our mission for the outing was to see how the recent adaptation compares to the book, and having spent several weeks studying “Dune,” we had incredibly high expectations.

Last semester, we read “Dune” as a part of our science fiction course, and we learned about its sociopolitical context and its impact on the science fiction genre. “Dune” by Frank Herbert was originally published in 1965, and there have been a couple movie attempts made. However, these have been widely regarded as lacking when compared to the book due to cinematic and budget limitations. 

Professor Jennifer Dawson and her Spring 2021 Science Fiction class at the theater.

The recent movie is definitely the best so far. The scene transitions were clean and effective, and the soundtrack blew us away. The quality of acting was strong, and we felt the movie was paced well, considering the immense amount of worldbuilding and political detail described in the book. While we recognized several changes to the ordering of the scenes, character changes, and omissions, the common consensus for the movie was generally positive. 

This being the case, there was some conversation about the understanding of the movie between those who have read the book and those who have not. Some of us had read reviews of the movie before going in and found that some complained that it didn’t explore the character interactions enough and that it was moving too quickly. This turned out to be a non-issue for our group. 

While it is possible to watch and enjoy “Dune” before reading it, most of us agreed that a prior understanding definitely adds to the experience. The decision to split the movie into parts also helped with the pacing concern, and the release of the second part in 2023 has given us all something to look forward to.