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Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” returns to Swiss cinemas

Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" was released in 2021. Before the sequel is released in Swiss-German cinemas at the end of February, the first part will be shown again on the big screen.

It seems like an impossible undertaking: With Frank Herbert's novel "Dune", Canadian director Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival") has not only taken on a classic of science fiction literature, but also a project that was previously ill-fated. After a long wait, however, he achieved complete success in the fall of 2021. Before "Dune: Part Two" opens on February 29, there will now be a reunion with the first part.

The desert planet Arrakis is an inhospitable environment. If you want to survive here, you have to surrender to the sand and the heat. The fact that the Empire, with its various ruling houses, is interested in this barren wasteland at all has to do with a special substance: spice. It prolongs life and gives special powers that are essential for interstellar travel. Consequently, control of Arrakis is highly coveted, even if life there demands a number of sacrifices.

Difficult task

For Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac as a stoic leader), it is therefore a bad omen when the Emperor transfers the administration of Arrakis to him - and thus wrests it from the hostile Harkonnen. The young heir to the throne, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), is also initially not very happy about the impending move, as he is also plagued by meaningful dreams. Freshly arrived in his new home, he only just survives an attempt on his life - the first of many dangers that stand in the family's way.

Villeneuve finds impressive images for the story of Paul, who undergoes a messiah-like transformation in the course of the plot, which is accompanied not least by his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). She belongs to the mysterious order of the Bene Gesserit and is thus one of many characters in this rich universe, in which Herbert has not only packed themes such as religiosity, betrayal and greed, but above all a critique of humanity's treatment of nature.

If the complexity of the original book is impressive, Villeneuve's adaptation does not need to hide behind it. Where a great colleague like David Lynch legendarily failed with his 1984 adaptation, the Canadian, who also wrote the screenplay together with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, uses his knack for cleverly chosen compositions that are conceived on a Hollywood scale, but do not sacrifice quality and grounding as a result.

The power of the film lies in its tranquillity

But it's not actually the chase sequences in flying objects reminiscent of insects or the lavish fleet of imperial powers that resonate particularly strongly here. With "Dune", Villeneuve rather makes the tranquillity shine, lays all kinds of tracks and makes mythologically underpinned allusions without analyzing everything down to the smallest detail. Instead, you have to get involved in this adventure, for which the director uses an overwhelming soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, which in this case fits like a glove.

With "Dune", Villeneuve awoke the big, but by no means dull blockbuster from its coronavirus slumber. The success at the box office ultimately proved that it was worth the wait. As only half of Herbert's novel has been told here, there are still a number of dunes to climb and challenges to overcome for Paul and his cohorts. You can find out how the story continues in the second part, which can be seen from the end of February.

"Dune" will be shown again in selected cinemas in German-speaking Switzerland from February 8.

©Keystone/SDA

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