Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Which I'm Told I'm Watching Dune

I watched a bit of Dune on TV the other day. I really like the book and have always had mixed feelings about it as a movie. As a kid I always loved the part where they ride on the worms and they have blue eyes. What's not to like?

As a teen, I liked Sting playing Feyd.


I love...the way his name is spelled

I remember, as a teen, making fun of all the internal dialogue with a hilarious friend (said friend, if you're reading this, hi!) The spice, the worms...what does it all mean? I'm not sure, Paul, but I bet if we keep watching, we'll find out.

So I knew the internal dialogue was coming when I watched it the other day. But what I was not expecting was all the unnecessary telling the internal monologue accomplished.

Here's some examples.

Paul is about to be tested by sticking his hand in the box of pain (which is another thing I remember as a child. That and the horrible horrible Baron unplugging that guy's heart plug and the guy just bleeding to death. Fun times).

Paul's mother has this look of fear on her face. Paul looks between his mother and the Bene Gesserit High mother and he can see, clearly based on the actor's facial expressions, that something is going on and his mother is frightened.

Then Paul thinks she's frightened of something.

Boy, you think Paul? We already picked that up from all the actors and their expressions.

Later, Paul's mother is talking to their Dr. Yueh and she mentions that he must really hate the Harkonnens. Yueh makes a comment along the lines of:

"Yes. My wife..." Then he stops talking and has a grieved and pained look on his face. Jessica looks at him sympathetically. Clearly, as an audience, we can see what has happened here.

BUT THEN, the internal monologue.

Jessica thinks, His wife must be dead.

Thank you SO MUCH internal monologue. We could not deduce that ourselves. AND even if we couldn't, in about 15 minutes, we'll know for sure when the Harkonnens tell her that they killed Yueh's wife. I think as an audience, we could have been held in suspense for 15 minutes if we couldn't deduce that his wife was dead.

I have about 6 other specific examples written down just from the hour or so I watched but I think you get the point.

I don't know why they felt the need to hammer us over the head with so much telling. The movie could have been much more subtle and pleasant as opposed to the heavy handed film it is now.

When I read the book, I was never once confused. But when I watch the movie, I'm confused about 50% of the time. If you want to do some telling, movie, to make sure the audience is following you, why don't you let the actors act out their emotions (which they'er already doing) and save the telling for things like what the hell that floating creature thing is - turns out it's the guild navigator. Who knew? Not me, even after I had read the book. Then I was like That's the guild navigator?!.

It would take a hell of a lot of spice to turn a man into this

Anyway, that's what I was thinking when I was watching the movie. Too much unnecessary telling.

Anyone else love or hate Dune? Either the movie or the book? There's supposedly a new movie in the works. Hope it's good.

P.S. - Don't forget to enter my 100 followers writing contest for a chance to win prizes. The deadline is 5PM CST Friday 3/26

24 comments:

Joan Crawford said...

Well, that was quite the Rorschach test picture at the end, m'lady. For the first few seconds, I was sure I was looking at the rear end of something...

Susan Fields said...

I just came over here from Sharon Mayhew's blog, and I just love your blog - you've got some really interesting stuff here (and I love your lucky steampunk writing hat - I may have to get one of those!)

I've never read Dune or watched the movie, but that picture you posted of Sting makes me think I may have to check it out. What in the world is he wearing?

Christi Goddard said...

Fear is the mindkiller! It's the little death! I love Dune, and have the whole series and the original movie (I didn't like the sci-fi channel's version).

But I'm with you in one respect: I do this to EVERYTHING now. I was watching Just Friends with my dad Saturday. I'm all, 'they should have called this The Friend Zone they say it so much.' Not to mention I was compelled to comment on certain unrealistic and unresearched factors.

Then I tried to read a much beloved story and was all 'hey... this is telling. This is redundant. This is passive.' It's like I can't enjoy movies or books anymore without thinking of pacing and plotting missteps.

Palindrome said...

I love the Dune movies, all of them!! The SyFy Channel version was more true to the book (sans all the sex) but Kyle MacLachlan was born to play Paul.

I didn't care for the book. I've been trying for 15 years to get through it. I just don't care about the Harkonen's (did I spell that right), I only want to hear about the SPICE and PAUL!

I have the extra super long version of Dune on tape...TAPE!! LOL! I still bust it out occasionally...it's extra super long!

Ah, Dune.

Good times.

did i beat anne?! did i beat anne?!

Dominique said...

Well, I've never read Dune or seen the movie, but now I'd really like to now what that thing is supposed to be. It looks really weird.

Palindrome said...

@Joan- LMAO!! that would be an ugly rear end.

Kittie Howard said...

I echo Dominique!!

Anne said...

*shakes fist at Palindrome*
you only beat me because i was absorbed in farmville.

Anyway haven't read the book, and i remember the same things you do about the movie.

Sting ftw

Falen said...

Joan - see what i mean?! That thing is so effing weird, and we're just supposed to know what it is? no way

Susan - thanks for stopping by! Yeah Sting is really a highlight of the movie. As for what he's wearing, maybe armor underwear? I have no real clue. I think it was just an excuse to brag about Sting being mostly naked

Christi - yeah i hear that. Though i still enjoyed it, just is a different (less serious) way.

Palindrome - i love the book. It's one of those books that has a most excellent final sentance that is completely satisfying (don't you go look at it...) yeah i agree that Kyle MacLachlan as Paul is awesome sauce. Also i always forget that Patrick Stewart is in it until i see him.

Dominique - it's actually very creepy too. It's supposed to be a man who's taken so much spice that he's mutated - the spice gives them the ability to bend space for rapid space travle, hence they're navigators. But they're supposed to look sortof manish...

Palindrome - it's ugly no matter which end it is

Kitty - the movie is one weird trippy thing, but even though you'll be confused for most of it, the worms, Patrick Stuart, Kyle MacLachlan and Sting make it worth the watch.

Falen said...

Anne - you know my feelings about farmville. GASP what are you going to do next week?
Also you should read the book. You'd like it. It kind of (very very loosely) remind me of the Faded Sun trilogy.

Summer said...

A little bit of Dune was ruined for my and my brother when we caught a clip of some bizarre movie on the Independent Film Channel with Kyle MacLachlan going full-frontal.

The things I always remember from Dune are, "I will bend like a reed in the wind" when he's fighting Sting in the end, and "Mua'Dib. Mua'Dib" in that weird voice. Oh, and "You have found the Weirding Way" or whatever. And..."Tell me of your homeworld, Usal."

Anyway. It's one of those trippy movies from my childhood. But I still remember Toto's epic music for it!

Teebore said...

Don't take away my geek card for saying this, but I have never seen nor read Dune. My wife loves the more recent sci-fi adaptation, though. And now I think I really need to get a pair of armored underwear like Sting.

@Summer we caught a clip of some bizarre movie on the Independent Film Channel with Kyle MacLachlan going full-frontal.

Was it Showgirls? He (and everyone else) goes full frontal in that. It's kinda bizarre, and also funny, mainly just from watching Jesse Spano go from class president and quasi-valedictorian to a desperate Vegas stripper.

Are you still so excited, Jesse?

Talli Roland said...

I've never seen Dune but now I think I have to just to experience the internal dialogue!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah the internal dialogue was cheesy. Overall the movie was cool, though. I think it presented Paul a little bit more likeable and heroic.

Falen said...

Summer - i'd like to know what that independant film is. So i can appreciate Kyle's...acting talents...

Teebore - you know she's just so scared. I didn't realize there is male nudity in Showgirls. Even that tidbit isn't enough to make me want to watch it. You'd probably like the book. I think. You should watch the movie for hilarity alone.

Talli - it is really funny most of the time. But sometimes, it's just irritating

Alex - yeah i agree. I still enjoy the movie, even if it's weird and irritating. And i agree about Paul being likeable

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Sorry - I've never read it, and I've never seen the movie. Should I be ashamed of myself? :-)

laurel said...

I LOVED the Dune books. They were a huge part of my HS experience. I can't tell you how many lunch hours I spend arguing with my guy friends about them. (And I had a bunch of geek guys stalking me at a choir festival when they found out I was a *gasp* girl Dune fan. LOL.)

I think Dune is a hard book to film because the world is so incredibly trippy, the plot complex and Herbert's writing very philosophical. The SciFi channel version was poorly cast--the performances lacked zip. The 80s wide release was cool in some ways, but didn't capture the book very well, through I loved Kyle Maclachlan as Paul. He carried the film, really. I agree there was too much explaining of all the wrong things.

Oh, and eating too much spice gradually turns one into a sandworm. At least that's the idea. So that's why the guild guys look more worm than human. Paul sandworms himself in book 4, as I recall.

Falen said...

Shannon - i don't know - do you feel bad about missing Sting in underwear? Then maybe

Laurel - i agree. There's so much going on in the book.
And since i've only read the first book, i did not know they turn into sandworms. That makes more sense then.

Elana Johnson said...

Every time I tell a CP about telling now, I'm going to think of that brain-ish picture! Thanks! :) (lol)

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I liked the original books. I crapped out on God Emperor. It just got a little too....much.

DEZMOND said...

I loved the original movie, hated the SciFy channel's mini series, anxious about the new big screen version which won't come any time soon although it's in preproduction.

I think the point of those inner lines and dialogues was to show the dark atmosphere full of doubts and uncertainty in which the characters were set. But, those were the early 80's if that's an excuse :)

Falen said...

Elana - sorry about that...but maybe it will be incentive to not tell? Because if telling looks like that, well, no thanks

Barbara - good to know

Dezmond - yeah i let them get away with it since it's the early 80s but still. Don't get me wrong, i still like the movie, i just can't blindly like it anymore. I remember the sci-fi one, but i don't remember if i watched it.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Sting looked so fine in that movie. Dammmnnn

Elizabeth Twist said...

I am not sure how I ended up on this post, but I am glad I did, first because of the caption on that Sting picture, then because of that Sting picture, and finally because YES! The Dune internal monologues!

My absolute (non)favourite is the one where the priestess lady comes to test Paul's abilities, and there's that poison needle? (Sorry it's been a while since I watched the film, even longer since I read the book.) Paul successfully navigates the test that could possibly kill him. His mom comes back in the room...cue internal monologue:

"Paul! He's alive!"

Holy crap. Really? Wow.

I genuinely liked the Dune film, but I do not understand why they chose to add the monologues.

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