Sunday, 16 March 2014
Ten trillion years into the future the universe is ruled by WASPs. The known galaxies are governed by a frumpish emperor who acts like ineffectual middle-management. He gets his orders from an elite class of gigantic foetuses that fold space by expelling luminous space cum. Viewers are prompted to throw their lot in with a Aryan gang named the Atreides who dress in Afrika Korps jodhpurs when visiting the titular planet. Their sworn enemies are the Harkonnen, a family of sadistic gingers who covet disease and pointless violence.
The first part of Dune is dense with exposition. Vendettas are explained at length and each character's inner monologue is expressed through terse, breathy whispers. These early scenes - in which House Atreides sit secure in the galactic hierarchy - have a recognisable order to them. Plots within plots shape the unfolding narrative. When the Atreides patriarch is murdered any sense of organisation is abandoned. Dune stops trying to be a rational series of events, instead becoming a collage of the impossible. This is what makes Dune wonderful. Recognisable human experience dies with Duke Leto. What remains is given over to the callous ascension of an infallible God Emperor and his rock opera earworm.