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Dune, the sound... and the music

Fred Salles

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Hi everyone maybe this should be discussed  on « the post place » forum but I am not sure yet whether what I want do bring up is a technical, artistic or rather a commercial topic.

 I saw Dune, by Denis Villeneuve, in a rather bad 7.1 cinema theatre (difficult to get it in original version AND in dolby atmos here in Marseille).

 I was totally frustrated and above irritated by the overuse of the music.

ok we know Hans Zimmer is not a light touch kind of music composer, but never before have I felt the heavyness of his music overcoming and overpowering everything I perceived in the film.

Everything in the film made me want to love it but I found the constant use of the music so redondant, so overwhelming, that it did not let me any space for emotion.

Now the work of the sound team might have been mindblowing, but I hardly can say I remember any of it since the music took all their labor and love of the craft away in my opinion.

Villeneuve and the sound team do try to say the opposite in the rather interesting talk below, and hearing them made me wish I could see the film again in a proper atmos setup, but what have you thought about it ? Especially if you had the chance of watching it in optimum setup.

Looking forward to read your opinions





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Interesting to hear you say that. I had the same takeaway, and it's not the first time I've thought this about a Hans Zimmer film. Dunkirk particularly comes to mind -- I felt that a lot of the visuals and tension building would have been more resonant by using less score rather than the constant, extremely loud tick-tick-tick score gluing each scene together. For whatever reason, I didn't have the same complaint about Blade Runner 2049; the music kind of melded with the atmosphere at points and the movie's pacing felt much slower to me. I'm surprised there weren't more scenes like this in Dune.


I will say I LOVED the larger-than-life drum fill which was the main theme I think -- I was really wowed when it played during the intro montage of the film, and I believe it also played during the credits.


What I don't really have patience for is the constant, overpowering use of score during every scene throughout the movie. It's probably effective for most audiences to keep tension high and emotions flowing. For me, perhaps influenced by being a location & post sound person, I very much believe in the use of quieter, longer scenes, lengthy takes, the use of atmosphere and layered ambiences to build emotion rather than being so heavily reliant on score. Many of my favorite films have very minimal scores. In other words, I'm one of the curmudgeons who comes out of every big-budget sci-fi movie wishing it was a little more like 2001...


My takeaway of the film is completely different than most of the reviews I read on letterboxd, for instance, which often seem to joke about the movie being a bunch of "slow" scenes of spaceships taking off and landing. I didn't find anything in the movie slow. I thought it was so completely, thoroughly stuffed with short scenes, fast edits, constant score; it felt overflowing with things, very much contrasting with the ascetic production design & sets. It made me wish the book had been split into a trilogy so more scenes, and the sound, had room to breathe.


Mark Mangini & Rob Bartlett are obviously legends, and I had no complaints with the actual sfx of the movie. I'm still watching the video you linked -- their discussion of the sound design of "the voice" is really awesome, especially in reference to worldizing and de-syncing the sub bass channel, adjusting atmospheres, etc. Thanks for sharing. I particularly loved the use of reverbs throughout the movie in addition to the big-ticket effects.


Lastly, I saw Dune in an IMAX laser projection theater in New York City and definitely wish I went to a Dolby theater. The soundsystem sounded fine to my ears, but it was far too loud in IMAX, and most of the surrounds seemed to just be coming from my left since I was sitting mid-left in the theater, but such is life. I know the loudness is part of the IMAX experience -- it's not for me. This video makes me want to watch it again in atmos.

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  • 2 months later...

Absolutely right!

The Soundtrack drowned out everything, I saw it with bombastic surround sound. After  all, Dune is set on a desert planet, and not in Transformers style setting. It ruined the film for me

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