punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

The Toddlers of Dune

I just thought of that. "Elmo say, da wohms ah da spisse!" Okay, enough jocularity. I feel I should give a shout out to my homeys in the sci fi house, yo yo. I made an effort and saw the Sci Fi channel's first part of the mini-series, "The Children of Dune." I was kind of bummed I missed their attempt to do "Dune," so I made a point to watch. Now, I haven't read the series since I was ... oh, 13, 14, something like that. And I recall the books were dry and dull. I was more of a Bradbury and Clarke teen, so Herbert took some getting used to. I read "Dune" (the first book) a few times in my life, but the rest of the Dune series only once. So when I saw this ... it was really like seeing it for the first time.

I have problems with complicated stories, and I had my share of problems with this. I had to recall all the houses and what happened, and who Muad?Dib was. But I got to up to speed, and with the exception of some people I could not figure out for the life of me, I thought the series was actually pretty good. I plan on watching it tonight, to see how Muad?Dib's kids turned out (I guess Muad?Dib was killed by a worm in the end there, but I think they left his wandering open-ended).

When I was reading these books for the first time, I recall how it was supposed to be an (rough) allegory for the nation of Islam. Tolkien's "Lord of the Ring" series was supposed to be a take on World War 2, as well, and while that is hotly debated, I don't hear ANYONE comparing the Dune/Islam (travels of Mohammed) parallels, so maybe the people who told that to me were full of crap. Or maybe that's common knowledge, and I am just out of the loop.

I really need to go back and reread some of these books as an adult that I read as a kid. I am such a different person now, I would have a lot better perspective. While I was growing up, and Sci Fi was still considered a niche market, Dune was heralded as one of the Greats, up there with "Fahrenheit 451," Asimov's Robot and Foundation series, Terry Brooks' Shanara series, and of course, Tolkien. So when the movie came out...

My friend David was REALLY into the series. I mean, he loved it, so when the movie came out, we went to go see it at the Tysons Corner Roth's 8. He hated the movie. I thought it was okay, although the strange new-age guitar riffs were a bit too new for me, but I didn't think the movie was all that bad. Apparently, it rode that fat line between "caters to the geeks" and "caters to a mass audience." It failed at both. David was so livid, it kind of amused me. It was my first understanding of how fandom reacts to any movie made of a book. In fact, the only time I never saw this was Harry Potter, which was overseen by J.K. Rowling herself, so I mean, if fans complained, it was against the writer (although Kurt Vonnegut has often lost debates with college professors about his own books, so maybe it's not assured when you are an author). David could not stop talking about how it stunk, and it truly, deeply, offended him that I didn't think it was so bad. About seven years later, when I was unemployed, I saw the "Director's Cut" late at night on HBO. I thought that was even better! Later, my son and I saw it, although he was about eight at the time, and remembers none of it. But I recall he was totally engrossed in it. See, as a side note, I had an old "Spice worm of Arrakis" action toy that my son inherited, so now he KNEW what they meant, and I tried to explain what the spice meant, and he claimed he understood. Now, I will tell people the movie is good on its own and it has great atmosphere, but does not exactly follow the book. This starts many arguments in fandom, especially about Baron Harkonnan (who in the book was a deceptively kindly old chap who looked like Santa Claus, not an ugly bloated man covered with boils). But, in the end... "Take it easy kid, it's only a movie." - Ham "Intergalactic Wise Guy" Salad in "Hardware Wars."

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000080.html
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