Superb Cinematography Makes For a Strong Movie Viewing Experience: A Review of ‘Dune: Part One’

With a 165 Million dollar budget and a star studded cast, ‘Dune’ has made waves on social media. What does the film do well, and where does it fall short?

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Victoria Diaz

‘Dune: Part One’ consistently employs fabulous direction and scoring. I watched the film at UA Midway 9 Theater in Forest Hills, NY.

When I first watched a commercial for Dune: Part One, I was half asleep on the couch with my family. Despite feeling drowsy, I was immediately interested in the star-studded cast. The film stars Timothée Chalamet, who previously starred in Ladybird and The King, as Paul Atreides, the educated son of  House Atreides. It also stars Zendaya as Chani and Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho. 

Dune: Part One was released in theaters on October 22nd, 2021. The movie is based on the first half of the original novel by Frank Herbert. On opening weekend, I traveled to the UA Midway 9 theater in Forest Hills with my twin sister. I hadn’t sat in a movie theater in nearly two years, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, so I wanted to get the full in-person movie theatre experience. 

The film primarily takes place on the planet Arrakis, where the land is transferred over to House Atreides during a deal and subsequent ceremony with House Harkonnen. The planet Arrakis is known to be incredibly rich due its abundance of the Spice Melange, a heavily coveted substance that produces an enormous amount of wealth for the planet. Arrakis is also home to a large population of Fremen, a group characterized by their striking blue eyes and by their overall mystery. 

The plot of Dune: Part One is centered around capitalism and the problems of benefiting from the resources of marginalized people. The film focuses on House Atreides and House Harkkonen fighting over a land whose inhabitants, the Fremen, never consented to their rule. In the film, Duke Leto Atreides notably asks, “What did they say about this hellhole again?” when discussing Arrakis. Spice servesvas an important asset to both houses and, despite the Atreides’ efforts to extend an olive branch to them, the Fremen felt as if their own wishes were ignored. 

The cinematography in the film captures the beauty of Arrakis’ landscape. Cut scenes and intros included amazing close-ups to the moving waves of sand. It felt as if each grain was visible as the air brushed across it. Close-ups shots of the Fremen had tremendous contrast in them, which allowed me to focus on their signature bright blue eyes. 

I was fortunate enough to fully experience the movie in a theater, and was in awe of the beautiful music score for the film. The speakers in the theater amplified the sound and almost allowed me to fully immerse myself in the film’s adventure. The film was scored by Hans Zimmer, who composed the music for the original Lion King film as well as several movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The music captured the soul of the movie and complemented it incredibly well. In the scenes on Arrakis, there was a recurring sound of a chant-like scream while the camera focused on the Fremen, capturing their emotion and strength.

In online review forms, many have criticized the film for the lack of representation in its casting. Many of the aspects of the novel, including character names and words were based heavily on Arabic language and Islamic culture. While the movie included many BIPOC actors, specifically those playing Fremen, there were little to no notable actors of West Asian, North African, or Muslim ancestry. While watching the movie, this absence was clear and disappointing, as I had expected this aspect of the film to be better. 

If you are searching for a film with tremendous effects and a well-written and emotional plot, Dune: Part One may be the perfect movie for you. Within the entire 2 hour 35 minute run time, I was consistently impressed with both the video and audio elements of the film. 

Dune: Part One was released in theaters and on HBO Max on October, 22 2021. You can watch the trailer here.

I was fortunate enough to fully experience the movie in a theater, and was in awe of the beautiful music score for the film. The speakers in the theater amplified the sound and almost allowed me to fully immerse myself in the film’s adventure.

 

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