Just finished re-reading “Dune” in anticipation of “Dune Part 2” coming this March. Frank Herbert’s incredible tale of the desert planet Arrakis and the vortex of prophecy, science and political intrigue centered on it is a literary masterpiece.
So in the wee hours of the morning I woke up in a cold sweat imagining what could have happened to the movie treatment of “Dune” if somehow Disney, in its current form) got its cold, woke claws on the rights to it. Clearly, they could not not screw up even the simple narrative of Star Wars or a comic book. My mind contorted with the nightmarish possibilities if the likes of Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy imposed their sensibilities onto yet another classic. Read on to share my dark vision from a parallel reality.
Scene: A Dune Part 2 Press junket – Zendaya (Chani), Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica) and Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Liet / Dr.Kynes) are sitting on director’s chairs.
Interviewer: How do you feel about portraying legendary characters in what’s considered the last American epic?
Zendaya (jumping in): Well the story is already, like, over fifty years old and written by a white (mock shudder) man, so it’s an honor to be part a re-telling for today’s audiences.
Ferguson: This is not your dad’s “Dune”.
Zendaya: The story is how Chani becomes the leader she was meant to be. Does Muad’dib save the day? Who knows? Will Timothée Chalamet even be in the second movie? (shrugs)
Interviewer: Sharon, how did you embrace the role of the Imperial Planetary Ecologist, Dr. Kynes?
Sharon Duncan-Brewster: In the book, Dr. Kynes is a person who lives in two worlds: he is both the Emperor’s handpicked agent on Arrakis and one who has “gone native” and is accepted amongst the Fremen. Kynes distrusts the Atreides at first but comes to respect them.
Interviewer: What do you bring to the fascinating character of Liet / Dr. Kynes?
Sharon Duncan-Brewster: I’m the first person to portray Dr. Kynes as a black woman of color.
Sharon Duncan-Brewster (making palms-up shrug gesture):
Sharon Duncan-Brewster: OK. Before me, minorities of my specific skin-tone and gender could not see themselves consumed by a giant sandworm in a pre-spice mass. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a role model for these aspiring young women.
Interviewer: Zendaya, Herbert’s depiction of the Fremen implies that an almost Arab heritage. In “Dune” 1984, they were portrayed as mostly white, what does your depiction of Chani to restore diversi-
Zendaya (interrupting): What’s a Freman? Man? That’s weird. Weird!
Rebecca Ferguson: What’s important to remember is our wonderful director Nia (DaCosta) is that the message of “Dune” is empowerment and equity.
Interviewer: Thank you.