Earlier today, Legendary Entertainment announced that it will be bringing Frank Herbert’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel Dune to the screen for modern audiences. No more details have been released yet, but Legendary included both film and TV rights in the deal.
The original Dune novel was published in 1965. It was an immediate critical success, winning the first ever Nebula Award and tying with Roger Zelany’s This Immortal for the Hugo. Herbert wrote five sequels, but there is much more to the Dune franchise, including a number of games (both computer and boardgames) and a collection of follow-up novels written jointly by Herbert’s son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Dune has been on screen. There was a 1984 movie by David Lynch which is frankly awful, though enjoyable for camp value. The film brushes over almost all of the underlying mythology and focuses on the “juicy parts”, leaving anyone who hadn’t read the books confused about what was happening.
There was also a miniseries by SyFy back when it was still called The Sci-Fi Channel. That series, Frank Herbert’s Dune, which I watched when it originally aired in 2000, is much closer to the original material. Because John Harrison had six parts to tell the story, he was able to produce a more comprehensible version of it.
Hollywood has been talking about a new film for years, with Paramount Pictures holding the rights for a while, but this is the first serious attempt since 2011. It will be interesting to see what they do with the property. Will we get a new miniseries? A film trilogy? Or something completely different?
Bringing the novel to film will require some adjustments to make it work in today’s world, though. It’s a great story, but there are practically no strong female characters with identities that aren’t related to their male relatives. I almost threw Dune across a room when I first read the ending (I won’t spoil it for you), but the complex story did pull me back in. Any modern adaptation will need to temper the treatment of women if they want to avoid problems.
Have you seen any of the old Dune adaptations? What did you think? Share your opinion in the comment section below!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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