ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
"... and when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path…"
Exploitation and inheritance. The empire exploits life in the pursuit of capital. It colonizes vulnerable planets and populations with valuable resources, extracting the conditions of their existence from the very soil they walk upon and bleeding every space-dollar they can from each grain of subjugated sand. The spice extends life, the spice expands consciousness, so the empire must control it, must manipulate control not only over the spice itself, it must manipulate control over who controls the spice, taking it from the Harkonnens and giving it to the Atreides in an act of outward magnanimity but inward sabotage, exploiting even with a gift.
It's understandable, then, that a boy born into such a system might not want to inherit power over such a corrupt political structure, might not want to be handed the reins to such an infectious space-stagecoach and risk becoming infected himself. But Duke Leto is right, the best leaders don't seek leadership, they are called to it, and likewise the only proper way to deal with privilege is to return it in kind, to wield inheritance against your inheritors, not against family, as Paul first feels, wondering if he's not the future of House Atreides, but against Empire. Embrace your given empowerment, but on your own terms, and in allegiance with the disempowered.
It's hard to review Villeneuve's Dune without reviewing Herbert's Dune, but formally/structurally speaking, even with only part one this feels more complete than the studio hack-job that was forced upon Lynch, as much as I love the oddity of his vision. Villeneuve is right to insist that people see it in a theater because the sense of scale is immense, and it's not only artistic but thematic. The empire looms large, but the small people, the presumed insignificance of humanity, it infects the frame like an insect, like a hunter-seeker, nigh imperceptible but as deadly as it is small. There's power in David that Goliath cannot see. Desert power.