Issue 11

Behind the Cover Art

Photo Credit: Caroline Nicholson

"I took this photo one morning while I was out and about in the village. I noticed how beautiful the sky was, and I wanted to capture it!"

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Elisabeth at 30 and the Question of Translation

Caroline Nicholson will discuss the German-language musical Elisabeth and the complexities surrounding a potential translation of this musical. 

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Image: jegyajanlo

A beautiful empress. A crumbling dynasty. The constant and ever-lengthening shadow of death. The most popular German-language musical ever written, it has traveled to a wide variety of nations across the world.  Elisabeth.

The musical tells the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who at the age of 16 was taken from her home and married to the Emperor Franz Josef of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It recounts the struggles of a young girl trying to survive a treacherous court environment, bound to a weak husband, and tormented by a domineering and vicious mother-in-law.  Elisabeth clings to optimism and hope, in spite of the best efforts of her husband and mother-in-law to crush her spirit and assimilate her into the conservative out-of-touch Habsburg dynasty. In the musical, we see Elisabeth increasingly gain confidence against those who try to break her, eventually leaving her husband after discovering he has been unfaithful. Although she remains in the marriage, she succeeds in escaping to lead an independent life afterward until her assassination at the hands of an Italian anarchist. While being for the most part historically accurate, the musical does contain a fantastical element in the form of the personification of death, who constantly haunts Elisabeth’s thoughts and seductively strives to tempt her into committing suicide. Even against this powerful force, however, Elisabeth succeeds in holding onto her sense of self and finding meaning in life, only surrendering to death at the point of her assassination.

From this brief summary, it is possible to see the appeal of Elisabeth. To many audiences around the world, the empress’s story is an uplifting tale of knowing one’s worth in spite of isolation, the brutality of others, and the pain of depression. Unfortunately, for those of us who live in the Anglophone world, this beloved musical has never been staged in an English-language production. Given the popularity of the musical, as well as the fact that it will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary next year, the absence of an English-language production seems puzzling. Why would a musical that has been so popular around the world never reach Broadway or the West End?

An important factor to consider is the treatment of other German-language musicals by the English-language theater scene. In the early 2000s, another popular German-language musical known as Tanz der Vampire, which shares with Elisabeth lyricist Michael Kunze, was brought to Broadway. Unfortunately, it was drastically rewritten beyond recognition, with major plot points and elements of the score being discarded. It is now considered one of Broadway’s greatest failures. Rebecca, another of Kunze’s German-language musicals, was slated to make an English-language debut in the early 2010s. Like Tanz der Vampire, however, Rebecca would never attain standing in the English-language canon, on this occasion due to financial difficulties. Given this troubled history, it is understandable why the creators of the most treasured musical of the European musical theater scene have not rushed to stage the musical in London or New York.

There is also the question of translation itself. Concepts and lyrics that flow beautifully in the German language could potentially sound stilted or awkward in English. Consider, for instance, one of the few songs in the musical that has actually received an official English translation, Ich Gehör nur Mir or I Belong to Me. In German, the lyrics directly translate as follows:

I’m waiting for friends and searching for security

I’ll share my joy, I’ll share my sadness with you,

But don’t claim my life--

This is something I cannot give you

Because I belong only to myself

Now, let us consider the same verses as they were translated into English to match with the score:

I’m here when you need me, I live and I die with you

I’ll share all your troubles, I’ll laugh and I’ll cry with you

You can blame me and bless me,

But you cannot possess me

‘Cuz I belong to me

While this American translation generally communicates the same ideas as the original German, it lacks the rhythm and emphasis that can be found in the original language. Words that feel deeply emotional in the German language feel almost saccharine in this translation. Considering the fact that the musical Elisabeth carries intense themes, giving the entire score this treatment would be a disservice.

While productions in other languages and cultures have struggled with similar difficulties of translation, many have been very successful. Productions of Elisabeth staged throughout Europe and in parts of Asia have enjoyed great success and have managed to retain the strong themes and deep feeling of the original production, while at the same time adding their own touches.  For example, some Japanese productions refer to the character of Death as “The Lord of the Underworld,” adding a new dimension to the story. It is clear that these international productions have been able to successfully maintain the nature and themes of the plot.  However, this encapsulation of the essence of the story through language is something that English translations of German-language musicals thus far have been unable to accomplish, making it unlikely that an English version of Elisabeth would be undertaken.

 

The figure of Empress Elisabeth of Austria has become iconic in Germany and Austria. Renowned for her independent spirit and her beauty, she has been the subject of many works of historical fiction, the musical Elisabeth being amongst the most popular. Perhaps it is for the best that there has never been an American or British version of Elisabeth. While Elisabeth is most certainly a loss to the English-language musical theater pantheon, it is essential to ensure that the depth of feeling and the life and death struggle in the story be preserved. 

Popular Art to ARTPOP: Koons and Gaga

In this article, Freya Miller will explore the cultural importance of ARTPOP, Lady Gaga’s 3rd studio album. By examining her partnerships with artists and designers around the production and performance of the album, she’ll explore the key themes Gaga explores.

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Images: Wikipedia, Gay Times, Business Insider, Gaga Daily

 

Engaging with Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP means looking at not only the album, but artRAVE, Jeff Koons’ involvement, the album cover and the influences of the label, and critics, on the reception of the album. Beginning with historical collaborations between Pop Artists and Art pop music, and the defining features of Artpop moving into the 21st century, I’ll examine the musical, visual and conceptual goals of Gaga’s album, and why Koons was the perfect partner. 

It’s not clear whether the artistic or musical movement came first, however, the simultaneous obsession with aesthetics in popular music and the combination of high and low forms of art within artistic circles begun in 1960’s America and Britain. Both asked what it meant to be an artist in a world of commercialised art characterised by symbols and icons, by exploring the capabilities of widely-accessible art as high-art.

One relationship between musician and artist which defines this exploration is The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol’s relationship. Not only were the band resident at Warhol’s workspace, The Factory, but their debut album, the Velvet Underground & Nico featured a Warhol as the cover, and is hailed as the original art-rock record. Initially panned by critics, retrospective reviews almost universally celebrate the album. Similarly, critics are changing their reception of ARTPOP. 

Simon Frith, in Art Into Pop (1988) suggests that ‘what seems clearer in retrospect ... is a distinction between the first wave of art school musicians, the London provincial r&b players who simply picked up the bohemian attitude and carried it with them into progressive rock, and a second generation, who applied art theories to pop music making’ The development of Synth-pop allowed a realignment of art-in-music away from rock and towards dance and hip-hop styles. The electronic sounds which define modern art pop in the style of artists such as Bjork.

Gaga, in ARTPOP, embraces a wide range of elements which influenced the movement up until 2013. Though largely panned by critics, and not reaching the commercial success of her first two albums, it’s off-the-wall energy and boundary-pushing musical combinations are unique 9 years later. Her partnership with Koons, although a collaborative, one-off enterprise, echoes the artistic collaboration of Warhol and the Velvet Underground. Gaga creates at a juncture where commercialised art is again decaying, the death of the blonde, female sex-symbol is a powerful preoccupation throughout the album. And, as a reversal of Warhol, Gaga aimed to ‘put art culture into pop music’, producing an album which touches upon EDM, R&B, synth-pop, house and funk styles, amongst other styles.

The cover, created by Jeff Koons and featuring his art,

is an exploration of what Pop Artists tried to do with Gaga in mind.

Featuring Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and Bernini’s Apollo and

Daphne, as well as a sculpture Koons created of Gaga. They bring

together what Koons does when he encourages the re-viewing of

Art with sensitivities toward other artists and interpretations.

Viewing art as collaborative is a goal of ARTPOP, the app

designed by TechHaus, the Haus of Gaga’s technology development

department, was intended to encourage visual and musical creation

around the album. Ahead of traditional livestreaming on social

media, some of the developed elements were groundbreaking.

 

Then, Gaga transcends the boundaries of genre in both artistic and musical endeavours with the album. The first half of the album explores fame, similarly to her first two albums, The Fame and The Fame Monster and, alongside what art means within pop music, when engaging with an artist who has such a meteoric rise, naturally themes of exploitation and self-consciousness are engaged with. These themes of abuse, use and escaping the pressures of fame define the second half of the album, which features the more balladic songs on the album as well as the more personal lyrics. Each track stands in its own right as a dedication to art and pop music, an exploration of how Gaga is seen in a very personal way, packaged in a commercial album release full of music popular at the time. 

                                        artRAVE and other performances, including music videos, are where

                                         the goals of ARTPOP truly come to fruition. artRAVE featured artists                                              such as Marina Abramovic, Jeff Koons and Benjamin Rollins Caldwell,                                         and performances from the Roschman Dance Group, and DJ’s White                                           Shadow, Madeon and Lady Starlight. The dress Gaga first appeared                                              in was a Gareth Pugh creation, a black-and-white, form obscuring                                                 outfit which refutes the ideas of viewing and being seen. It also                                                    introduced the ideas of futurism which permeated Gaga’s visual                                                   language throughout the promotion; Caldwell's work greatly aids this, as does the lyrical and visual focus on futuristic concepts in G.U.Y and Venus. artRAVE was an artistically collaborative event which asked artists, Gaga and the audience to view Gaga as art and object, before understanding her position as an artist. It creates a collaborative space to be observed and participated in, a commercialisation of the high-art themes which Gaga looks to focus on with her costume references to Botticheli’s Birth of Venus.

Gaga’s 2013 VMA’s performance references many of the costuming themes of the era, including:

  • Koons’ gazing ball

  • Shape-obscuring black and white costumes

  • Black, full-length leotards

  • A Poker-Face esque short bleach-blonde bob

  • Classic Applause facepaint

  • Yellow-blonde wig, reminiscent of Telephone

  • Botticelli’s Venus

All contained within a 4 minute performance. This is reflective of the larger tour cycle, the references to previous visual themes and representations of artists and designers is a key avenue for Gaga’s approaches to Art in Pop music. 

The Era of ARTPOP represents collaboration between artists and musicians, designers and creators. Bringing the question of fusing high and low art into popular debate, ARTPOP is a cultural moment, important in foregrounding other expressive, fringe artists which we enjoy today. As a visual and musical experience, we explore the spotlight, by looking at, and being shown by Gaga. It’s powerful, moving and devastating at times, which is possibly why Gaga claims not to remember ARTPOP.

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A Look into Sculpture: The Dichotomy Between the Tangible and Imaginary 

In this article, Katie Norris will explore sculpture, with a focus on the works of Mila Zemlyakova and Yoshimasa Tsuchiya

Images: @milazemlia & @yoshimasa_tsuchiya_info

Sculpture is defined by the Tate as ‘three-dimensional art made by one of four basic processes: carving, modelling, casting and constructing’, which distinctly highlights the specificity of the human hand in relation to the art form, as well as its physicality.  Given its nature as an art-form so entirely dependent on the human ability to build, mould and construct, Yoshimasa Tsuchiya and Mila Zemlyakova’s fantastical sculptures appear somewhat unsettling and out of place. Yet, perhaps this feeling of discomfort, when faced with the unnatural, exposes more about our restricted minds than the creativity of these artists, who both break the bounds of what can be defined as real and imaginary. 

                            When scrolling on my Instagram I first came across Mila Zemlyakova, a                                         sculptor, based in Belarus, who’s art caught my attention due to its unique                                  and captivating presentation. I had never experienced something so visually                               unnerving whilst simultaneously comforting. Her creations combine the                                       human and mythical by moulding human anatomy into the forms of tiny                                       nymphs, bison, and hares. This welding of different forms haunts our                                             disciplined minds, so comforted by boxes designed to separate and                                             exclude. The friction created is perhaps akin to the feeling of nostalgia -                                      something physically intangible whilst also within the grasps of perception.                                The features are ever so slightly distorted, so that they branch out just far enough to avoid definition; just like sculpture itself, as a tangible, man-made, creation of what is also unnatural, fictional and a figment of the imagination.

Zemlyakova’s decision to sculpt using soft materials gives her art a further childlike feel to them, straying not so far from the world of stuffed toys. With our childhood animals frequently being long-lasting sources of comfort and companionship, why is it that Zemlyakova’s artwork invokes an alternative sense of unease?  When showing her page to friends, the most frequent reaction was one of repulsion, confusion, and even distress. The desire to get away from these images certainly prevailed over intrigue and curiosity. Can this instinctive rejection perhaps be attributed to the liminal space in which her sculpture sits? Her creatures forcefully collide our dreamlike unconscious with reality, simultaneously forcing us to confront the existence of the unnatural and grotesque, unnerving for a society which places beauty on a pedestal. It is perhaps ironic that I found her artwork through Instagram, a space so rarely inclusive of the visually unorthodox or atypical. 

In contrast, Yoshimasa Tshuchiya, a 44-year-old Japanese

sculpture artist, focuses on woodwork. However, just like

Zemlyakova, his work centres around mythological creatures,

often inspired by dreams or Japanese folklore. Tshuchiya’s use

of wood to depict creatures outside the realms of normality

plays into the idea that sculpture as an art-form creates an

inextricable link between the tangible and imaginary, as it,

once again, blends the natural world with the imaginary.

Wood is a material so central to humanity, being a source of

life in the form of trees and also a crucial material in

construction, education, and creation. Therefore, this collision

between the familiar and unfamiliar is similarly disruptive. In Tshuchiya’s work it is in the detail of the glass eyes in his creatures that are intentionally human-like, feeling as though through these eyes Tshuchiya is trapping the human inside the mythical. In an interview with Jennifer Susan-Jones, Tshuchiya commented that he began creating natural ‘animals like deer and cats’ but internally wished to create more fantastical creatures. He explained he ‘felt embarrassed to make something so childish’ hinting at that feeling of childhood nostalgia that ties so neatly into the world of the mythological. Perhaps the incarceration of the human through the glass eyes, is representative of all our inner children who unconsciously wish to remain unburdened in the world of imagination, so often severed as we age.

So, perhaps sculpture may not be the first art-form that comes to your mind when thinking about breaking boundaries, yet the relation between the physical and the creative lends it so perfectly to the blending of the tangible and imaginary. As exemplified by the works of Tshuchiya and Zemlyakova, this dichotomy can be used to confront closed minds, and encourage the acceptance of the fantastical, grotesque, and unfamiliar in our everyday lives. 

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Stockholm Syndrome in Money Heist

Why do we inexplicably find ourselves rooting for the captors and their love interests in Money Heist? In this article, Annabel Bartsch will explore the potential psychological explanations for the relationship dynamics between Monica and Denver; Ariadna and Berlin and minor characters Torres and Nairobi that develop in the first two series and try to throw some light upon why we ourselves form attachments to the captors.

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Image: News 18

 

So, what is Stockholm syndrome and why can we link it to Money Heist? To summarize a rather complicated psychological phenomena, Stockholm syndrome is when a captive forms a positive emotional relationship or bond with their captor or captors. The condition was first coined by criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot as a way of explaining the events after the Stockholm bank robbery in 1973, primarily the fact that none of the four hostages would testify against their captor, Jan-Erik Olsson, going as far as to defend his character by emphasizing that he treated them kindly. In Money Heist it can be argued that Stockholm syndrome is set up as the ‘mantra’ of the criminals, due to the ‘Robin Hood’ motif used, masking the psychological harm they are doing to their victims behind superficial acts of kindness.

Bejerot argued that Stockholm syndrome develops from a succession of psychological steps, which we can link to many of the relationships found in Money Heist:

     1) The captors make the captives feel powerless, submissive, and hopeless. This is                      achieved in Money Heist through a combination of artillery, aggression and their                       grotesque masks and costumes, used by the captors to establish dominance and create an       atmosphere of fear.

     2) Acts of abuse and violence are broken up by acts of ‘mercy,’ which the captives perceive      as acts of kindness.

     3) As a result of these perceived glimpses of ‘humanity’ or ‘dignity’ in their aggressors, the      captives begin to develop sympathetic feelings for their captors.

Without a shadow of a doubt, this script for the development of Stockholm syndrome can be applied and used to explain Monica and Denver’s relationship. This is because the relationship emerges from Monica being nursed by Denver for a shot wound, supporting the fact that this captor/captive dynamic arises from the two opposing sides being brought together through actions that, outside of a hostage situation, would seem heroic and generous. Most shockingly perhaps is that Monica, in falling for Denver, develops an intimate bond with her would-be-executioner through him nursing her through a wound he himself inflicted upon her. So why does she, or perhaps most importantly we, feel moved and want to see the relationship succeed?

The main explanation psychoanalysts have given to this is that the ‘ego’ – the rational and realistic part of the brain- becomes under significant levels of stress from being made to feel so powerless that the captive’s survival instinct overwhelms the need to feel resentment towards their captor. Therefore, perhaps ironically it is suggested that Monica’s survival instinct that is responsible for her relationship with Denver. To an extent, we can even apply this explanation to why an audience may feel sympathetic towards the pair’s burgeoning relationship because it is perhaps because of the strong emotions we feel towards wanting to see Monica live out the hostage situation that we want to see it sustained. However, there is the inevitable fact that the director’s romanticisation of this dynamic is to blame for this reception for what in reality is a toxic relationship. 

Although, there is perhaps some redeemable or genuine applications of Stockholm syndrome in Money Heist, which make us question the corrupt nature of the outside world rather than what is being represented in the hostage situation. For example, the relationship between Nairobi and Torres emphasizes the short-comings in work place in wider society. This can be debated because of the contrast between Nairobi and Arturo as bosses. On the one hand, Nairobi individualizes and personalizes Torres to make him feel valued under the, although questionable, title of ‘hostage of the year,’ as well as paying attention to his entire career by noticing that he printed more money within 40 hours of heist conditions, breaking his personal record. Meanwhile Arturo, far from becoming mellow under the pressure of being kept hostage, makes threats and blackmails Torres to keep quiet about his reckless escapade plans by reminding him of how his family depends on his income, rather than the compassion that would be expected from your employer in such a psychologically challenging time. Nairobi and Torres’ relationship can be classed as Stockholm syndrome because Torres does develop loyalty towards Nairobi and thus ironically becomes invested in the forced labour he is made to endure.This is especially because, linking back to the ‘Robin Hood’ motif, the hostages are made claims of being rewarded money if they remain for the planned duration of the Heist, which is a reflection of the mentality of stealing ‘to give to the poor,’ making the captors seem humane and generous. Ultimately, this dynamic leaves unanswerable about the boundaries of our own morality and rationality. Would we have accepted the money and wouldn’t we view the captors differently because of this offer?

There is definitely one exception that can be made that forces the audience to confront the reality of the captives’ situation and their potential motivations for forging bonds with their captors and this is Ariadna. Ariadna is far from feeling sympathetic for Berlin, despite the intimate bond that forms between them. In this case, the captor-captive relationship does not fit the Stockholm syndrome mode but can be explained with it. This is because Ariadna recognizes how faking sympathetic and romantic feelings for Berlin could lend her greater power and chance for survival. In presenting this dynamic, the audience are forced to confront the lack of consent that can really be given because of the polarized power positions of the relationship, which inevitably casts a moral shadow over Monica and Denver’s relationship.

 

In conclusion, Stockholm syndrome in Money Heist is what contributes to making the series such a twisted psychological thriller and exciting to dissect because of the way in which it tests the bounds of our own rationality. If the mind-bending thrills you, this is a must-watch.

A Reality to Experience: A Deep-Dive into the Film Adaptations of Frank Herbert’s Dune

With the release of Dune’s most recent adaptation, Greer Valaquenta will go on a journey to discuss the many adaptations and inspiration that the book has inspired over the years, and why it remains a cult classic to this day.

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Image: YouTube

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that books are always better than the films that claim to be them. And although in my opinion this is true for Frank Herbert’s 1965 magnum opus, Dune, the films that have been inspired by it are arguably true works of art in their own right. Is there another science-fiction novel that is as elusive, complex, and labyrinthine as Dune? And can such a novel ever hope to be represented in a film with as much aplomb as it deserves? It’s given life to two feature films, a TV series, and a cinematic experience that never was, namely, Jodorowsky’s Dune. This is the novel that has been claimed as the muse for George Lucas’ massive franchise Star Wars, as well as many other science-fiction films. When I first read Dune, I was around twelve years old. This large tome gifted my younger self with sage advice such as ‘don’t sit with your back to the door’, something I still tend to think about to this day (although no Harkonnen hunter-seekers have come after me, one can never be too careful). The text itself was dense, heavily laden with political subtext and metaphor, as well as charged with spiritual imagery, and it took me ages to wade through it. Did I understand it? Not really.

Yet, there is something about this novel that makes it addictive. The rich world-building of Herbert introduces the reader to a universe in which geo-politics are now enacted on a cross-planetary level, with the feuds between noble families being centred upon raw resources and vast wealth, just as they are today. Dune was written to warn against the devastating consequences of ecological rapacity and tyrannical governance, with a young boy at the heart of the narrative, entrusted with keeping it all together. Many films have been made that star a central character whose task it is to save the entire universe from greed and power, usually leading them down a path of heroism and subsequent self-discovery. What makes the narrative of Dune so difficult to adapt is not the messaging contained within it, but the intricacies of its macrocosm, with its diverse imagery and the enormity of its cosmos. Just like Tolkien in his The Silmarillion, Herbert has written his own hagiography, with Paul Atreides as its saint, hero, and philosopher.

Someone who truly understood the gravity of the novel was film director and artist Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose vision for this epic was too grand to ever be attempted. Jodorowsky’s version of Dune would have included a musical soundtrack by Pink Floyd, and starred names such as Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, and Salvador Dalí. The story behind the failed production was so dramatic that it got made into a documentary, filled with bizarre stories such as when Dalí wanted $100,000 per hour for his acting, as he sat on a throne made of twin dolphins, as well as a 10-14 hour expected running time, something that shocked every movie studio in Hollywood and abroad. The artistic talents assembled by Jodorowsky created a script the size of the Bible, and a storyboard of 3,000 drawings that depicted the entire film as imagined by Jodorowsky and Jean “Moebius” Giraud. Jodorowsky is convinced that it is these storyboards, sent all around Hollywood for the studios viewing pleasure, that brought films such as the Terminator series, The Fifth Element, and Star Wars to future big screens. It is certainly an indisputable fact that the artistic team he assembled went on to help create the cult classic blockbuster Alien.

Unfortunately, Jodorowsky was never able to realise his vision, and due to a lack of funding, the rights to Dune were resold to Dino De Laurentiis. It was then that filmmaker David Lynch got his chance to create the first iteration of Dune to exist on film. This movie was a complete monetary failure, making ten million dollars less than its cost of production, and Lynch himself disavowing the final cut. Interestingly, Lynch had originally scripted two films and had to compress his scripts into a single feature. He apparently dislikes the fruit of his efforts so much that he refuses to speak on it in interviews and has repeatedly declined offers to create a director’s cut. All of these things aside, however, the film itself is now considered to be a campy classic, and it is certainly visually dazzling. The enormity of the optics and the cinematography, as well as the costuming and the music, all contributes to a unique viewing experience that is truly strange and avant-garde. The actors in the film were cast well, with Kyle MacLachlan of Twin Peaks fame making his film debut as Paul and an intense performance by Norwegian actor Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto. There are some outlandishly eccentric castings, such as Sting (what does he contribute to the film? I am still unsure but his outfits are on-point) and Patrick Stewart (sci-fi series crossover?! Yes, please, engage). Those involved in the film’s production had hoped that it would rival Star Wars in a more adult-fashion, but the end result was something akin to a campy B-flick. Critics absolutely trashed it after its release, criticising everything from its script to its characters. Essentially, the film suffered the fate of many other literary works that were adapted into film, losing its soul and its philosophical purpose underneath the splendours of Technicolour. The gargantuan task of altering a text hundreds of pages long into a two-hour storyline was too much for an entire consortium of film legends. And so, Dune was left in the public consciousness as just another enjoyable, if somewhat disappointing and strange, feature film. It was briefly resurrected as a short-lived series made for television, which was critically well-received but never gained any traction.

Enter Denis Villeneuve, the man who had taken up Ridley Scott’s mantle in directing Blade-Runner 2049. In a fashion almost akin to the arrival of the Kwisatz Haderach themselves, Villeneuve assembled a cast of industry power players and set to work crafting the film he had maintained he would not touch until he had finished learning from projects such as Arrival and the Blade Runner sequel. He was able to get permission to make two films, just as Lynch had wished to do, and began crafting a narrative that was uniquely himself, choosing to take his inspiration directly from the book rather than from Jodorowsky or Lynch, so that his perspective was fresh, with ‘a different sensibility’. He wanted to focus on the narrative as a cautionary tale for over-exploitation and over-consumption, through the lens of youthful action and proactivity. He also highlighted the female roles in a way they had not been before, being quoted as saying ‘Femininity was there in the book, but I thought it should be up front’. Hans Zimmer provides a characteristically astounding musical score to accompany the beautifully crafted and sweeping visuals, and the actors chosen for the film bring new life and vibrance to their characters… and of course, there’s Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet. What more could we ask for? At 2 hours and 35 minutes, the film feels as though we are truly taken on a journey, both onscreen, and within ourselves. Frighteningly, the intrigue and machinations presented within the film seem almost too familiar, and the parallels that we can draw with our modern society have only increased since the novel’s initial publication. Is fast fashion our Harkonnen spice mine, constantly churning out product and choking the earth with excess? Are the Fremen the Indigenous people around the globe who are consistently sidelined and ignored in their pleas for help and the acknowledgment of the exploitative and genocidal conditions that they have been subjected to?  We are living on both Caladan and Arrakis, as climate change raises our seas and burns our plains. Villeneuve’s interpretation brings these questions to the surface in his first installment. I guess we shall see if he continues a moral deep dive in his sequel. I know that I can’t wait to see for myself.