Is It Too Late for Dune to Be the New SciFi Game of Thrones?

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“No matter how exotic human civilization has become, no matter the developments of life and society, nor the complexity of the machine/human interface, there always come interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.”

- From The Tleilaxu Godbuk

Without a doubt, I have never encountered anything like Frank Herbert’s Dune series. It is utterly unmatched in its philosophical depth, political insight, and intense, complex characters. Dune is totally unique among SciFi series, and fiction more generally for that matter, and reading it can be life-changing. I also have a great appreciation for the Game of Thrones TV series, and for many of the same reasons.

I was pondering the fact that Game of Thrones’ intense and calculating characters, exploration of political power dynamics, quasi-superhuman mystical capabilities, and presence of mythical beasts is strangely similar in many ways to my beloved post-robot rebellion space opera epic, when I realized something:

Dune is basically Game of Thrones in space, but with more cerebral layers of philosophical, psychedelic, spiritual, and complex political themes…

…and it would be equally well-suited for a high-budget, cinematic-quality TV series.

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Dune’s Time for Film Has Finally Come

When this realization struck me, I felt a terrible purpose possess me, to issue a rallying call to the masses of the internet SF&F fanbase, to demand a Dune television series equal to Game of Thrones in its acting, CGI, set and costume design, and overall of the caliber frequently seen on Netflix and HBO, these days.

Although Dune movies and miniseries have been created before, they have always fallen short, and I believe that this is because only now are the technology, standards, and budgets for television sufficient to fully explore the richness and breadth of the entire Dune universe.

Dune Is So Much More Than One Book

It’s truly a shame that the majority of Dune readers have only read the first, or at most the first two books of the series. Spanning across many books and thousands of fictional years, the Dune universe contains enough material to explore at least a series of the same length as Game of Thrones, and perhaps endless side stories. More importantly, it has the potential to bring a level of world-building and philosophical depth to the screen that SciFi fans have perhaps never seen before, just as Herbert did for the page.

Not only that, but the quasi-technological and mystical nature of the Dune universe is also perfect to appeal simultaneously to the Fantasy loving crowd, as well. I think at least 80% of Game of Thrones fans could probably also appreciate an equally well-made Dune series, and plenty more would replace those that don’t crossover. It’s like it was meant to be.

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A Dune Movie Is Already Underway

I decided to check in to see if anything was currently happening with Dune before writing this, and I’m glad I did. As it turns out, there is already a Dune movie being made by Denis Villeneuve, in conjunction with Legendary Entertainment, who purchased the rights to Dune.

While the project is still very much in its nascent phase, there is already some buzz about it, such as this Youtube video, which even mentions the same association I am making between Dune and GoT in this story.

I have to admit, I have very mixed feelings about this. While Villeneuve’s work is excellent, and if his Dune movie is as beautiful as Bladerunner 2049 was, then it will most certainly be epic, I just can’t help thinking that Dune deserves better than to be squeezed into a single 90–160 minute film.

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Dune As a Movie, an Epic Mis-Judgement?

The fact is that the Dune universe and plot is…big. Huge. Really, really, I mean just so gargantuan. It spans literally millenia, explores generations of bloodlines (and clones), the rise and fall of civilizations, and the arc of humanity’s exploration of different relationships to technology, space travel, religion, human potential, and political machinations. And yes, even some incredibly powerful female leads and characters (possibly more than male).

Imagine trying to fit each season of Game of Thrones into a feature-length film, and this is roughly what I anticipate the Dune movie and any sequals will be like. We’ve seen this sort of thing before, when directors have attempted to squeeze way too much book into the span of time that a human can sit in a movie theater. Occasionally it works (I mean, Harry Potter? The Hobbit?), but often the results are disastrous, or mediocre at best, leaving huge sections of plot on the cutting room floor, dialogue and action obnoxiously fast-paced, and millions of fans annoyed and disappointed.

Caveat

I’m not trying to criticize the thing before it even comes into existence. I believe in Villeneuve, and I believe that Dune has a future on the screen. I’m just extremely skeptical that it will reach the heights in movie format that it could as a cinematic-quality TV series, which I think people are preferring these days, anyway. Unfortunately, without prescient foreknowledge its impossible to say for sure, but this is just what I feel.

Do you agree? Disagree?

Writer, State Libertarian Socialist, and lover of all things Philosophy, Psychology, Spirituality, and Science.

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