|rijdt Negatieveling approved|
|Posted 31-10-2021 12:17 by iPim (Administrator)
Even AG triggeren.
Millennia from now, Duke Leto Atreides, ruler of Caladan, takes over the sand planet Arrakis from the cruel reign of the Harkonnens. The mission is a ruse by Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV to strengthen his own cosmic dominion. But wait, ho!, the Duke’s son, callow mentee to swordmaster Duncan Idaho, heeds his own calling as a — no, sorry, I can’t do it any more.
The grandiose silliness of Dune cost me 155 minutes of LA sunshine. It might be the handsomest thing committed to screen since Lawrence of Arabia. I even detected one smirk in its po face: characters liken fear to a “little death”, which director Denis Villeneuve must know is French slang for orgasm.
The film is fun, even good. What it is not is profound. Showing a dust bowl of a planet is not an insight into climate change. Showing a case of imperialism is not a rumination on imperialism. Whispering a sentence does not make it wise. If the big idea is that power is a burden, it is a Harry Potter film. As for the old rule — show, don’t tell — let us say that Dune “transcends” it. Naturally, the adaptation of such a vast novel necessitates some shortcuts. At times, though, the exposition takes the form of a narrator with a British Airways pilot’s soothing timbre reading out all you need to know.
The problem is not the film. The problem is its investiture by critics and audiences with more meaning than it can bear. If it were unique in this regard, we could put it down to the giddiness of a world allowed back to the cinema. In fact, the intellectual aggrandisement of pop culture has been going since the millennium. Succession has joined The Wire, The Sopranos and a few dozen other series as alleged “art”.
Superhero fare is routinely parsed as though Verdi had made it. In my youth, to be seen at Forbidden Planet, the sci-fi store, was the short route to social death, perhaps worse. That was wrong, as is all bullying. But it should be possible to leave that world behind without arriving at one where smart men in their sixth decade hash out the DC-versus-Marvel “debate”.
I say none of this as a sophisticate. I watched no fewer than six football matches across four leagues last weekend. Musically, I am a Handel violin sonata man, on a brave night. I want to know that a painter can do hands. But precisely because I am so middlebrow, I can sense when fellow members of my tribe are putting on airs (or, rather, putting them on works of entertainment).
I can also venture a guess as to why this is happening. In the America of 1990, 24 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women had four years of college education. The numbers are now 37 and 38. The spread of higher education (a British trend, too) is an emancipating force. But no social change is without its perverse consequences. The academic Peter Turchin traces “woke” culture to the rage of a generation of underemployed humanities graduates, for instance.
There is now a large slice of society that has been drilled in a certain kind of conceptual waffle. It has the tools to over-analyse and ultimately overrate what would’ve been enjoyed as Jurassic Park-style fun in the 1990s. It has coincided with the tech-enabled expansion of the media, with its endless space to fill. The very finitude of newspapers and TV culture shows forced critics to be selective in what they took seriously or covered at all. Now, Netflix can count on essayistic treatment of what its latest jabbering emission “means”.
“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve,” says someone in Dune, “but a reality to experience.” That wouldn’t make it past the quality-control people at Hallmark Cards. When the original novel came out, it would’ve been taken for what it is: a fine line within its genre, a breather in a dense plot. We are now invited to turn it over in our heads like a Montaigne gem. The point of an ever-smarter society was to popularise the intellectual. It was harder to foresee the intellectualisation of the popular.
Vladimir: That passed the time. Estragon: It would have passed in any case.