Culture news Frank Herbert’s Dune: A look back at one of the pillars of science fiction
Dune. At the mere mention of this universe, science fiction fans shudder. It must be said that the saga initiated by Frank Herbert left a lasting mark on a literary genre before sweeping through all the media. Ahead of the release of the film Dune (2021) directed by Denis Villeneuve, the editorial staff of JV looks back on the origins of the franchise and its many evolutions over the decades.
A literary saga
Dune is originally a series of novels written by Frank Patrick Herbert Jr. This literary saga begins in 1963 with the publication in Analog magazine of an episodic version of the first book. The latter is then published in a collection two years later. Five novels born from the pen of the American author follow the release of the first book soberly entitled Dune (1965). Following the death of F. Herbert, his son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson took up the torch. From this collaboration is born a series of sub-cycles (Before Dune, Dune the genesis, After Dune, Legends of Dune, Dune the origins, Chronicles of Caladan) enriching this science-fiction universe.
Jodorowsky’s failed project
Faced with such success, several adaptations of Dune emerge through the ages. While many projects are still in the embryonic stage, others are marking their decade. Impossible to talk about this franchise without addressing the feature film by Alejandro Jodorowsky. The vision of the Chilean director still leaves insiders dreaming today, and with good reason. This feature film Dune which will never see the light of day brought together under a common banner Salvador Dalí (Emperor Padishah Shaddam IV), Orson Welles (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen), the artists Moebius (L’incal) and HR Giger (Alien), Dan O’Bannon (Alien) for special effects as well as the groups Pink Floyd and Magma for the soundtrack. For information, the Franco-American documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune supervised by Frank Pavich traces the life and death of this extraordinary project.
A cinematic expansion
The first adaptation finally landed in theaters in 1984. This is the film Dune directed by David Lynch (Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive). This feature film strongly criticized at its release and with the resounding commercial failure knows no less than three versions (or montages) intended for the cinema and / or television some of which are simply denied by D. Lynch himself. The latter then prefers to credit the pseudonym Alan Smithee in the credits. Then the years pass before the Syfy channel takes over at the dawn of the 2000s with two mini-series, namely Dune (2000) and Children of Dune (2003).
A video game revolution
The universe of Dune by its nature lends itself to a video game adaptation, and the first of them dates back to 1992. Dune developed by Cryo Interactive and published by Virgin Interactive combines Point & Click adventure game and strategy game. However, it is Dune II: The Battle of Arrakis released the same year which forever changed the still young video game market. This title from Westwood studios is the first STR (for Real Time Strategy) in the history of a still young media, and lays the foundations of a genre successfully resumed by the licenses. Command & Conquer or Starcraft. The American studios put the cover back in 1998 then 2001 with Dune 2000 and Emperor: The Battle for Dune. Cryo Interactive concludes in 2001 this series of adaptations with the adventure game Frank Herbert’s Dune. The following year two projects were canceled: the MMORTS Dune Generations and the action game Frank Herbert’s Dune: Ornithopter Assault.
An illustrated epic
The 9th Art is not left out. The comic strip adapted from David Lynch’s film was published in 1984 in the United States by Marvel Comics and in France by Michel Lafont editions. In 2020, a graphic novel scripted by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson returns to the origins of the saga by repeating the events of the first novel (1965). Boom! Studios acquires the rights to the prequel The House of the Atreides (1999) with a view to developing the eponymous illustrated mini-series. These same studios announce in 2021 a new series adapted from the new Blood of the Sardaukar.
Dune (2021) directed by Denis Villeneuve and scheduled for release in France on September 15 is the new addition to the “Dune” building built by Frank Herbert more than half a century ago. The legend of the Atreides now continues in cinema.
Dune Trailer (2021)