An adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune is a science fiction story of rival houses competing across space for power and prestige. The film’s protagonist, Paul, is the scion of House Atreides, arch rivals of House Harkonnen. The film begins with House Atreides’ appointment by the off-screen emperor as de facto ruler of the planet Arrakis. On Arrakis, a stark desert planet, is mined ‘spice’ – a valuable commodity that allows interstellar travel. The story follows House Atreides’ betrayal by House Harkonnen and a battle between the two in which House Atreides is decimated. The film finishes with Paul joining forces with Arrakis’ indigenous population, the Fremen, while developing supernatural abilities – partly inherited from his mother, partly honed by his contact with the mystical Fremen.
One of the areas I research at the School of Education, Communication & Society is how film music communicates – or seeks to communicate – certain information to audiences. The aural component of film has attracted far less attention than its visual component, but film score can be just as rich with meaning as film imagery.
In Dune, Zimmer and his team employ several tactics to explore aspects of the movie’s plot. The score overall is a combination of electronic sounds, world music textures, and non-lexical vocables (singing without words), designed to capture the film’s epic and other-worldly plot, while at the same time making references to Earth-bound contexts that help to situate the listener.
Percussions and strings make for an intense start