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An Epic Symphony Sadly Out Of ‘Dune’





Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya,

Directed  by  Denis Villeneuve

Rating: **

I always used to wonder what the fable of the Emperor’s Clothes meant. Then I saw Dune. And finally I knew what it meant when everyone goes bonkers over something that doesn’t exist just to be in-sync with the politics of the times.

Dune is a weightless epic.  And ultimately pointless. For a good 190 minutes Dune takes us through an intricate labyrinth of trust and betrayal fanned and fuelled by the courtly conspiracies of a futuristic Moghul dynasty. It is a symphony with no orchestra. A world ostensibly run by a great vision with no insight into the human conditions, just a series of striking images created on the drawing board and executed on screen with a meticulousness as  hard to achieve as it is to believe.

Dune is a work of epic dimensions hollowed inside-out. It is numbed by a stream of surreal images that are put on screen like paintings in a posh gallery where only the very rich are allowed. They buy the coveted paintings without questioning their value.

Sorry, I am not buying into the panoramic vision of this emptied-out numbed charade where the futuristic vision is stretched out so far, we need a telescope, not a 3D spectacle, to see the soul beyond the spectacle.

The visual imagery is incredibly vivid. Full credit to cinematographer Greig Fraser for bringing a sense of epic doom into the landscape. The soul is inert, Perhaps dead. We would never know which. Sometimes staying still is  seen as a sign of sublimity. Dune is a case in point.

But oh, what slothful sublimity is this?!  Dune opens in the distance future, sometime after the year 10,000 which makes the world safe for us as far as this kaleidoscopic cock-n-bull presentation is concerned.

It’s hard to pin this futuristic fiesta down to any particular theme or even emotion.

There are scenes where I found myself trying to catch some essence of emotions between father and son Oscar Isaac and the very happening Timothee Chalamet. Sadly, there is little closeness between the two actors. They seem more troubled by their costumes than the troubles that the plot heaps on their besieged kingdom.

Perhaps the sheer scale of  the sets discourages any human emotions to develop. By the time Oscar Isaac(fabulous in Scenes From A  Marriage) is pinned lifelessly to a chair in front of the villains, I was more worried about how little life there was in the high drama.

It is all too dry and sterile. Though essentially the story of a father and son battling for a rare species of spice against enemies who can exterminate with a strong blow of their mouth(bad breath perhaps?),  son Chalamet spends more time with ‘mom’ Rebecca Fergusson who wears a sour look all through the film, as if she knows what the outcome of this outing into the dystopian distance is going to be.

The caucus of villains played by  Stellan Skarsgård ,Dave Bautista and Stephen McKinley Henderson look like they could so with some loosening up. They behave like tightly-wound dolls who would like to be masters of their own destiny. Two superstars Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa play Chalamet mentors. What do they teach him? Not courtship? Chalamet is so amateurish with his romantic co-star Zendaya. They behave more like siblings than lovers and for all we know they may turn out to be long lost brother and sister in Part 2 of this torpid exercise in  self-indulgence. Best of luck with that one. I am out.

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