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Dune Book & Movie Review

By Amber McCuen

With the new Dune: Part Two coming out, I wanted to read the book before seeing how Denis Villenueve adapted its second half to the big screen. 

I was very surprised to find that Dune is a book told in the third-person omniscient mode, meaning that as a reader I was liable to hear any character’s internal thoughts at any point in time without any distinction on the page that we’d moved point of view. While it was a shock the first time that I encountered multiple characters’ thoughts within a single scene, I found myself becoming accustomed to the style and really enjoying it. It was also a device for humor at times, because a character such as the Baron would think, Oh, my nephew must think me stupid, followed immediately by his nephew thinking exactly that. 

While I’ve now seen both Dune movies and can say without a doubt that they’re the best movies to have come out in a very, very long time, there’s one aspect of the books that I wish they’d shown just a bit better. I think that the Sardaukar were lost a bit in translation between the book and the movie.

The Sardaukar are the Emperor’s personal fighting force, and they’re terrifyingly adept. In the book, characters are able to spot a Sardaukar soldier no matter what uniform they’re in simply by the authority that they carry themselves with. The movie had to simplify the Sardaukar down a bit for storytelling’s sake. In the book, the Sardaukar are in another military’s uniform to hide their involvement, but the movie had them in their own uniforms the entire time to not confuse the audience. I thought that that removed a bit of their intrigue, and I think that them wearing the wrong uniforms could’ve been accomplished without being too confusing. Through dialogue, we could've heard characters realize with terror that they’re in fact fighting Sardaukar and not Harkonnen, and I don't think viewers would've been confused.

The Sardaukar in my opinion are also not represented to be nearly smart enough. In the first Dune movie, there are no lines spoken by Sardakaur soldiers, and in the second movie, there is one single line, to the effect of, “Stay back!” But in the book, a run-of-the-mill Sardaukar has a long and discerning conversation with the Baron where he is both unafraid of the Baron and controlling the conversation the entire time. He carries himself with a brash authority and we see a bit of violent humor from him, and I feel as if I can say that there is none of that in the movies. In the Dune movies, besides their introduction where they’re initiated into the force, the Sardaukar feel quite a bit like any regular army, and that made me a bit sad to miss out on. 

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