Dthem weeks after the release of Dune, by Denis Villeneuve, in French cinemas, on September 15, we discovered the first episodes of Foundation, on AppleTV +. Two masterpieces of the classic age of American science fiction, the Frank Herbert novel, published in 1965, and the Isaac Asimov cycle, whose publication ran from 1951 to 1993, each found an adaptation. And as in echoing the old quarrel between the ecological romanticism of Herbert and the industrial rationalism of Asimov, these two filmed versions choose their camp between cinema, for Dune, and series, for Foundation.
The simultaneity of the two projects resulting from revered texts, comparable in their ambition, by the means at their disposal, is partly a coincidence. Dune has already been brought to the screen as a feature film, by David Lynch, in 1984 (and the film remains the only aesthetic failure of the author’s career), then as a miniseries, by John Harrison (from from Roger Corman’s school), in 2000. As for Foundation (we will keep the American “u”, since AppleTV + is keen on it), film studios have followed one another at his bedside through the decades until the series project of David S. Goyer (screenwriter among others Batman, by Christopher Nolan) and Josh Friedman finds his way to the plateaus.
Similarities and differences
Nevertheless, we will find in their similarities and their differences some lessons on the state of the forms of fiction. Whether Frank Herbert sings the epic of Paul Atreides, the prince turned prophet, or that Asimov invents for his hero, the mathematician Hari Seldon, the science of psychohistory, which makes it possible to anticipate the history to come, it is It is always about telling the fall of an empire, the end of a civilization. No wonder the theme, already ubiquitous on screens, of The Walking Dead To American Nightmare, found a buyer at Warner, which financed Dune, or at Apple.
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Then, these two adaptations, each in their own way, show a certain respect for their material. Villeneuve and his co-writers stick to the narrative as the staging lends surprisingly compelling material to Frank Herbert’s almost delusional visions. Foundation, an older text, and arguably of less dramatic force, needed some stimulus, and so the main characters – with the exception of Seldon and the evil emperor – are now all young and female. Goyer and Friedman have nevertheless preserved the intellectual architecture which makes it unique: we can clearly discern Asimov’s thought on social and environmental determinism, the conflict between rationalism and religion.
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