Denis Villeneuve’s Dune premiered at the Venice Film Festival and became the great success of the event. Although it is still too early to say if the director’s science fiction film is the definitive adaptation of Frank Herbert’s work, it has made its importance clear. One that transcends the mere possibility of the film version and that includes other works of science fiction of considerable scope.
If one thing showed the stir that Villeneuve’s film caused, it was undoubtedly the reach of Dune as a legacy.
It is of enormous interest that a good part of current science fiction is based directly or tangentially on the work of Herbert. In fact, its power and weight is such that several of the science fiction films include fundamental elements of the saga. We leave you a list of the films in which Dune’s footprint is most evident and that you will surely recognize at its premiere.
‘Star Wars’, a story like ‘Dune’?
Frank Herbert once complained about the obvious resemblance between his book and Lucas’s space opera. The director and screenwriter did not deny it. In fact, the structure of Dune is the backbone of the great cosmic plot of the saga and Lucas does not hide it.
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From the similarities between Luke and Paul (both lonely heroes, heirs of a great power), to the scenarios. Star Wars is full of blatant references to the way Dune stands as a story. Even more interesting is the way in which both pieces of science fiction conceive their characters. Both one and the other are fallible, full of secrets and mysteries tied to blood and legacy. In the end, both are stories about hope recreated in an extraordinary setting such as deep space.
‘Stargate’, under the desert
Again, the desert is the setting for a sci-fi epic. But the film bears many more similarities to Dune. Both raise the fact that civilizations in the cosmos are the result of political intrigue. And they do it with a elaborate perception of power and the manipulation of authority figures.
In fact, Stargate analyzes the conditions of influence and machination as an almost sacred fact, something very similar to what Dune posits. Both are representations of the debates about the ramifications of control and corruption through science fiction.
‘Mad Max: Beyond the Thunder Dome’
On this occasion, the resemblance has more to do with the way they analyze their heroes than with the general concept of the story. But it’s still interesting that Paul Atreides and Mad Max share their chosen nature amid a hostile landscape.
Of course, it is a recurring figure in science fiction. A messiah predestined to face something more violent and complicated. But in the case of Max and Paul, the parallels are clear. The way in which he deals with corrupted evil and the way in which Miller handles idealism are heirs to Dune. So is the hostile landscape, violent and increasingly brutalized by fear. A much trash but effective version of Dune’s proposal.
‘Alien’ vs. ‘Dune’
Long before working on the xenoform design in Alien, Giger was one of the artists involved in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Dune. In fact, on more than one occasion he commented that his violent and portentous creature was influenced by Herbert. How? As Dune readers well know, in the book space is a dangerous place full of unspeakable threats.
The creation of the xenomorph it was perhaps a way of conceptualizing that temporary and fearful void. The creature has no eyes, is violent and primitive, much like the creatures described by Herbert in his book. Until then, space creatures used to be unclear sublimations of anthropomorphic forms. Giger’s experience on the team for the possible Dune adaptation surely gave him some ideas.
‘Prometheus’, the power of science fiction movies with Alien
In fact, HR Giger’s Dune-based designs for Jodorowsky were not wasted at all. And again, the beneficiary was Ridley Scott. Its controversial follow-up to the 2012 Aliens saga, Prometheus, featured designs by Giger. His idea for the Harkonnen palace, that does not appear in the original novel, was repurposed for the desolate and fearsome planet in the film.