Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was about as grand and moving a film as I’ve come to expect from him. In a little over a decade, he’s become one of the most interesting directors working today. His films are sticking around for the long haul, and I frequently rewatch many of them.1

This is a film that should be seen in theaters. It deserves as big a screen as one can find. I bet an IMAX showing would be a uniquely moving experience. Heck, given how impressive the sound was, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually shook some people right out of their seats. You should see it. It’s impressive, to say the least.

I watched it on HBO Max on my relatively dinky 55” television. I’ve also got a pair of HomePods I use for audio. Compared to the vast expanse of a theater screen—a canvas truly worthy of the gargantuan size of the terrifying Sandworms—my television was a shameful Lilliputian consolation.2 Suffice it to say, Denis isn’t going to be impressed with how I viewed his film.

Our friendship prospects are looking bleaker by the day.

Were it not for both COVID and the recent, tragic shooting at one of my preferred local theaters, I would have seen this great film the way it was meant to be seen. I’ve always treasured going to the theater. It was something special I did with my dad and I’ve also treated myself to solo trips on countless occasions. It breaks my heart that I no longer feel safe or enthusiastic about indulging in an activity that means so much to me.

I can do what I’ve always done about COVID. I could wear a mask and distance myself from other theatergoers. I’m also vaccinated, so my personal risk is fairly low, despite how many people are still not fully vaccinated.

But how does someone avoid a hateful, destructive person who is intent on murdering others who are only sitting peacefully in a theater and enjoying the entertainment they paid for? How does one prevent a seemingly random act of disgusting violence from befalling them, especially in a place where visibility and awareness are so low? How do I avoid dying in a theater if not by avoiding theaters altogether?

Those senseless murders are horrible for two reasons: lives were ended and terror was forced into our minds. I hate that I have to live with this fear now because evil, cowardly, sick people keep feeling the need to make theaters their personal hunting grounds.

I wish that I could have seen Dune the way it was meant to be seen. I would have loved those two and a half hours in one of my favorite places. Instead, I watched it at home. It’s a better theater experience only in as much as I’ve got a large, comfy couch to sit on and I can pause the film for bathroom breaks whenever I want.3 Otherwise, it hardly has the special magic of a theater.

I wish my country didn’t have an insane, crippling fetish for instruments of death. There is no need for them to be so easily accessible by the general public. I wish sick people could better receive the care they desperately need. I wish they would stop taking the lives of others.

And I want my theaters back.

UPDATE: Looks like I’ll get to watch Part Two on my television in the future, as well. I’m very glad the sequel was greenlit. It would have been such a shame if this adaptation wasn’t able to get a conclusion.

  1. Except for perhaps Incendies. Not because it wasn’t a good film—it was one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen—but because the twist was so heart-wrenching that I don’t think I want to put myself through it again. ↩︎

  2. But hey, at least it was in 4K? ↩︎

  3. Which comes in handy when the film I’m watching is as long as Dune was. ↩︎