Director Denis Villeneuve’s epic science fiction film Dune is set for release in October and hype for the sci-fi epic is growing every day. The movie even seems to be drawing comparisons to a story that takes place in a galaxy far, far away. But Oscar Isaac says audiences shouldn’t be comparing Dune to Star Wars.
Oscar Isaac stars as Leto Atreides in Dune and also portrayed Poe Dameron in the latest Star Wars trilogy. With one foot placed firmly in each franchise, the actor explained the differences between the sci-fi stories to Total Film.
“Sure, there’s also some spaceships. But that’s really about where the similarities end. Dune’s not a typical sci-fi film. It has elements of that, but it’s also a meditation. What Frank Herbert did, and then Denis as well, is to explore those themes of family, of the clashes of cultures, and just put it on a stage that allows you to dream with it.”
Although Oscar Isaac insists that the stories are different, Dune was actually one of the inspirations for George Lucas’s Star Wars. The science-fiction novel was published in 1965 and Star Wars hit theaters twelve years later. Many have pointed out the glaring similarities, calling Star Wars a Dune rip-off. Interestingly, Dune’s author Frank Herbert has even accused Lucas of stealing his ideas. “I just hate getting into this damned thing,” Herbert told a newspaper when Star Wars was released. “I’m going to try very hard not to sue.”
While Oscar Isaac says there’s more to Dune than a typical “good guys fight bad guys in space” approach, the similarities are clear. Luke Skywalker is very similar to Paul Atreides. The Force is a lot like the Voice (the power the Bene Gesserit uses to control others). There’s the evil galaxy-controlling Imperium in Dune and the evil Galaxy-controlling Empire in Star Wars. There are genetic links between the heroes and villains in both stories too. There is a Princess Leia in Star Wars and a Princess Alia in Dune.
Additionally, Tatooine and Arrakis are spitting images of each other. So the comparisons are inevitable – sorry Oscar Isaac. But Star Wars went on to explore all sorts of different things, expanding on Lucas’s earlier ideas that depart drastically from Herbert’s work. Now that Disney has control over George Lucas’ story, Dune already looks like a step up in quality from the Star Wars sequels which felt like they were thrown together without much thought.
Based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. All the while, malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s supply of melange, a precious resource necessary for both space travel and immortality.
Unlike previous versions, the new Dune will only adapt the first half of the book. A sequel with Zendaya in the lead has been planned to cover the rest. In the novel, Chani Kynes (Zendaya) is a member of the Fremen and the daughter of Liet Kynes – the imperial ecologist and planetologist of Arrakis. She forms a close bond with Stilgar (the leader of the Fremen) and features prominently in the second half of the book.
Dune is scheduled to have its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 3rd and be released theatrically on October 22nd. The film will have a simultaneous release on the HBO Max streaming service for 31 days.