I love Lynch's 1984 adaptation. The little idiosyncrasies that drive some people crazy about it--the voice-overs, the over-the-top costumes, the new ending--make it a better, more interesting film to me. And even though I believe Lynch's "Dune" is one of the best science-fiction films ever made, it is not, strictly-speaking, a faithful adaptation. The miniseries produced by the SciFi Channel in 2000 hewed more closely to the novel, but it's limited budget prevented the filmmakers from truly realizing the scope of Herbert's novel. Berg has a chance here to make the definitive "Dune," which would be a boon to him personally, of course, but also to fans of Herbert's six "Dune" novels, some of which may get the same big-budget treatment by Paramount if Berg's adaptation clicks with audiences. If Berg and Paramount find a way to make "Dune"--a geopolitical novel laden with political intrigue, environmental science and philosophy--resonate with a mass audience, then they could have something resembling the "LOTR" franchise on their hands. Obviously, that's the best-case scenario. Worst-case, Berg goes back to making disappointing movies and "Dune" reaffirms its reputation as a hard-sell for mass audiences.
In other news, Oscar-winning writer and director of "The English Patient", Anthony Minghella, died today of a brain hemorrhage. He was 54.
And in political news, Barack Obama made a speech today intended to speak directly to some sermons given by Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor, and the larger issues of race in America. You can find the full text here. If you want a more stark contrast between Democrats and Republicans, look no further than this speech. Where Mitt Romney, the right-wing Republican golden child, was exclusionary in his big "Mormon speech," saying that non-religious people had no place in American life, Obama was inclusive in his "race speech" today, speaking frankly about where America stands right now on the issue of race. Here's a short excerpt:
"The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."
Viable politicians rarely (if ever) discuss these issues frankly, which is, in part, why this speech is so fascinating. I don't know if this speech will be enough to counter the impact those grainy videos of Jeremiah Wright thundering away at the pulpit had on some voters, but I hope this thoughtful and inclusive speech will go some way in doing that. Definitely read it.