science fiction film

The time is ripe for a new movie version of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel ‘Dune’

‘Dune’ is a classic good-trumping-evil tale, and the news that Denis Villeneuve is attached to a new adaptation is heartening.

Anyone remotely interested in science fiction would have heard of Dune. Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel blended geopolitics, environmental science and fantasy in a way that remains accessible and perhaps more relevant today. Dune introduced concepts that have since then been borrowed by modern-day science and fantasy offerings – lone warrior overthrowing an evil empire, men taking control of nature, and anti-imperialist ideas.

One would only imagine that a book laden with such innovative ideas would lead to a movie adaption for the ages. Sadly, so far, that hasn’t happened for Dune, David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation notwithstanding.

In the early 1970s, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky set out to direct his dream project, also titled Dune. The ensemble cast included towering personalities of the time, including Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger and Orson Welles. Pink Floyd were signed on to score the music. It would have been a collaboration like no other, a dizzying and eclectic mix of weirdness technical panache that Jodorowsky was known for.

However, Hollywood’s stifling studio culture didn’t finance the project, and Jodorowsky’s screenplay, immortalised in a story board, ended up as an unproduced gem. In 1977, Star Wars was released and changed the landscape of sci-fi films forever, begging the question – what if Dune had come first? Jodorowsky’s struggle to finance the film and gather the right team to execute his vision was beautifully encapsulated in Frank Pavich’s 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.

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Jodorowsky’s Dune.

We deserve a fantastic Dune film, and thanks to the studio Legendary Pictures, we might just get it.

The Hollywood studio Legendary Pictures had acquired the rights to the Dune series from the Frank Herbert estate. There have been reports that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve will direct the adaptation. Villeneuve is one of the most talented directors working today. His most recent film Arrival, an adaptation of a complicated Ted Chiang novella, was released to massive acclaim and commercial success. A teaser of the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, directed by Villeneuve, holds out the promise that Villeneuve is the right choice for a movie that is not only a challenge to make due to its tonal and visual complications, but also because of is subtle themes.

Humanity and its weakness and powers has been a recurring theme in Villeneuve’s movies. His characters always have a fulfilling arc, such as Hugh Jackman as a desperate father in Prisoners, Emily Blunt playing a helpless intelligence agent in Sicario or Amy Adams as a linguist grappling with life-altering choices in Arrival. Dune is filled with characters that are not only pawns in a larger story, but have a dimensionality that characters in modern day sci-fi films often lack.

And then there are the worlds of Dune, spanning from the arid lands of Arrakis to the unique architecture of the evil Harkonnens. In the hands of Villeneuve, we can perhaps be assured that the characters in Dune will retain their defining values, the worlds will be captured in all their splendour, and the seemingly simple but actually layered plot will translate well on the screen.

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Prisoners.

In Arrival, Villeneuve showed a gift for adapting a mind-bending story into a satisfying film that transcends the traditional blockbuster. He knows how to build tension, a craft that was amply on display in Prisoners and Sicario, and has a brilliant sense of cinematography. His collaborations with Roger Deakins have resulted in some of the finest camerawork we have seen in recent times. Even in Arrival, Villeneuve was able to attach a sense of otherworldliness to aliens and their technology, an impressive feat considering how often we see aliens in movies nowadays.

Villeneuve is a self-confessed fan of the book and has in the past expressed interest in directing a film based on it. Clearly, Villeneuve is an ideal choice, but if not him, who else? Perhaps Alfonso Cuaron, who has shown flair and originality in working with adapted screenplays (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), or Guillermo Del Toro, who has a unique visual style for presenting fantastical elements (Pan’s Labyrinth).

But speculations aside, do we really need a Dune movie?

The business of films has radically changed since the release of Dune, as have audience tastes and expectations. We live in a world in which Anthony Hopkins is in a Transformers film and sequels are abundant. Producers are reluctant to fund original ideas and directors are hesitant to take risks. The recent Star Wars films and the multitude of Marvel films of late are just symptomatic of a larger reality – the sci-fi genre badly needs a boost.

Sure, making Dune would be a challenge. Every element that makes Dune such a brilliant and original piece of science fiction has now trickled down to other franchises.

In a world ruled by Disney, would Dune make any noise? Well, we need it to. Amidst all the Jedi-like magic, giant sandworms and mind-altering spices, Dune is a classic good-trumping-evil tale. What sets Dune apart from the average CGI fest out on every Friday is that it still manages to seamlessly be a commentary on anti-imperialism and human potential as well as a reminder of how puny humankind is and will always be before the might of nature. The science fiction genre was defined by Dune; perhaps it can be redefined by the new adaptation.

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It’s the new year and it’s already time to plan your next holiday

Here are some great destinations for you to consider.

Vacation planning can get serious and strategic. Some people swear by the save and splurge approach that allows for one mini getaway and one dream holiday in a year. Others use the solo to family tactic and distribute their budget across solo trips, couple getaways and family holidays. Regardless of what strategy you implement to plan your trip, the holiday list is a handy tool for eager travellers. After having extensively studied the 2018 holiday list, here’s what we recommend:

March: 10 days of literature, art and culture in Toronto

For those you have pledged to read more or have more artistic experiences in 2018, Toronto offers the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomising vending machine for old books. You can find the Biblio-Mat, paper artefacts, rare books and more at The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookseller. If you can tear yourself away from this eclectic bookstore, head over to The Public Library in Toronto for the Merril Collection of over 72000 items of science fiction, fantasy magic realism and graphic novels. With your bag full of books, grab a coffee at Room 2046 – a café cum store cum studio that celebrates all things whimsical and creative. Next, experience art while cycling across the 80km Pan Am Path. Built for walking, running, cycling and wheeling, the Pan Am Path is a recreational pathway that offers a green, scenic and river views along with art projects sprinkled throughout the route. You can opt for a guided tour of the path or wander aimlessly for serendipitous discoveries.

Nothing beats camping to ruminate over all those new ideas collected over the past few days. Make way to Killarney Provincial Park for 2-3 days for some quiet time amongst lakes and hills. You can grab a canoe, go hiking or get back to nature, but don’t forget to bring a tent.

If you use the long-weekend of 2nd March to extend your trip, you get to experience the Toronto Light Festival as a dazzling bonus.

June: 10 days of culinary treats, happy feet and a million laughs in Chicago

Famous for creating the deep-dish pizza and improv comedy, Chicago promises to banish that mid-year lull. Get tickets for The Second City’s Legendary Laughs at The UP-Comedy Club - the company that gave us the legendary Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Key & Peele. All that laughter can sure work up an appetite, one that can be satiated with Lou Malnati’s classic deep-dish pizza. For dessert, head over to the Ferrara Original Bakery for mouth-watering treats.

Chicago in June is pleasant and warm enough to explore the outdoors and what better way to soak in the sunshine, than by having a picnic at the Maggie Daley Park. Picnic groves, wall climbing, mini golf, roller blading – the park offers a plethora of activities for individuals as well as families.

If you use the long weekend of 15th June, you can extend your trip to go for Country LakeShake – Chicago’s country music festival featuring Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.

August: 7 days in London for Europe’s biggest street festival

Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been celebrating London’s Caribbean communities with dancing, masquerade and music ranging from reggae to salsa. Watch London burst into colours and sparkle at the Notting Hill Carnival. Home to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens Museum, London is best experienced by wandering through its tiny streets. Chance encounters with bookstores such as Foyles and Housemans, soaking in historic sights while enjoying breakfast at Arthur’s Café or Blackbird Bakery, rummaging the stalls at Broadway market or Camden Market – you can do so much in London while doing nothing at all.

The Museum of Brand, Packaging and Advertising can send you reminiscing about those old ads, while the Clowns Gallery Museum can give you an insight in clown-culture. If you’d rather not roam aimlessly, book a street-art tour run by Alternative London or a Jack the Ripper Tour.

October: 10 days of an out-of-body experience in Vegas

About 16 km south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, lies a visual spectacle. Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation by Ugo Rondinone, stands far away from the wild vibe that people expect in Las Vegas and instead offers a sense of wonder. Imagine seven pillars of huge, neon boulders, stacked up against one another stretched towards the sky. There’s a lot more where that came from, in Las Vegas. Captivating colour at the permanent James Turrell exhibit in Louis Vuitton, outdoor adventures at the Bootleg Canyon and vintage shopping at Patina Décor offer experiences that are not usually associated with Vegas. For that quintessential Vegas show, go for Shannon McBeath: Absinthe for some circus-style entertainment. If you put the holiday list to use, you can make it for the risefestival – think thousands of lanterns floating in the sky, right above you.

It’s time to get on with the vacation planning for the new year. So, pin up the holiday list, look up deals on hotels and flights and start booking. Save money by taking advantage of the British Airways Holiday Sale. With up to 25% off on flight, the offer is available to book until 31st January 2018 for travel up to 31st December in economy and premium economy and up to 31st August for business class. For great fares to great destinations, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.