Luthor Frank Herbert’s grandparents and parents were part of the Eugene Debs-era cooperative socialist movement. Herbert himself, however, rejected this collectivist politics in favor of a macho and conservative individualism. In his thirties, he worked for a series of Republican politicians and candidates and became increasingly anti-government. Villeneuve has described his mixed feelings towards the Lynch version, despite calling his predecessor “the master”. “When I saw Dune, I remember being excited, but his take … there are parts that I love and other elements that I am less comfortable with,” he laments. “I remember being half-satisfied. That’s why I was thinking to myself, ‘There’s still a movie that needs to be made about that book, just a different sensibility.'”
After its publication, Dune nonetheless became popular among a set of leftish student hippies, but Herbert himself was never part of nor related to this layer. For example, one of his influences while writing the novel was S. I. Hayakawa, a semantics academic. California Governor Ronald Reagan specifically appointed Hayakawa President of San Francisco State University to break a strike led by the Third World Liberation Front, the Black Student Union, and the American Federation of Teachers. Lynch, meanwhile, has said he has no intention of seeing the Villeneuve take. “I have zero interest in Dune,” he told the Hollywood Reporter last year. “Because it was a heartache for me. It was a failure and I didn’t have final cut. I’ve told this story a billion times. It’s not the film I wanted to make. I like certain parts of it very much — but it was a total failure for me.”
Hayakawa and Herbert got along well, and Herbert was invited to help weaken the strike by conducting writing seminars in 1968. He readily agreed.Villeneuve will at least have no such issues regarding final cut for the first part of Dune. But he needs to prove that the second deserves to funded. And he has had to suffer the indignity of seeing his film go straight to a streaming service on the same date it opens in US cinemas. Fortunately for Villeneuve and his many fans, modern Hollywood is also less likely to skimp on special-effects budgets than De Laurentiis reportedly did in the 1980s. If trailers are anything to go by, the Canadian’s vision of the desert planet Arrakis looks just like the one in our dreams. The tone is dark and deliciously sombre, the cinematography splendid, the palatial scenes opulent, the sandworms colossal and ominous. Jason Momoa still seems to be playing Aquaman as House Atreides swordsmaster Duncan Idaho, but hey, you can’t have everything.