Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Denis Villeneuve's Dune Crysknife | Parts 1 & 2

I  was born on the west coast, by the sea. Green trees and morning mist surrounded my home, giving way to the warm, temperate sun that beat down upon my beautiful childhood. Spending hours on the sand and playing in the waves. I went hiking in the mountains with my friends to explore the forest that surrounded me. Walking the palm-lined streets as I strolled through the town's Old Spanish architecture, with red-tiled roofs, white stucco buildings, and intricate wrought-iron details. I hung out with my friends at school, visited various museums, and enjoyed life. The people were cool.

It was a simpler time.

That was until I was 15 years old when my father changed jobs. When he broke the news to me, I was devastated. As an adolescent, I didn't really understand the necessities of life and survival. We pulled up stakes from the land of my birth and moved to the desert in the middle of summer. During the last few days before the move, my best friend handed me Dune. He thought reading it would help in the transition.

The move, while tiresome, was also exciting. The long trek into the desert was a shock. I had never seen such desolation before other than in old Western movies and TV shows.

It was late after our arrival and unloading of the truck and cars, so we slept. The next day, my brother and I woke early; we wanted to explore. My older cousin, hung over from the night before, enlisted my brother and me to help him retrace our vehicle's path to our new house and find a sock he somehow lost on the way in the night before.

The thing we all noticed was that the sun was way too bright. The air was dry, with

no moisture at all. The air at 7 in the morning was dry and hot. We didn't have to walk far before we noticed the houses give away to empty fields of dirt and tumbleweeds. The wind did blow, but all it did was blast dust into our faces. We turned our heads to cough and spit out the dirt from our mouths.

I didn't read the book right away. It took me several weeks before I found it. After arranging my library, I looked at the book and decided to give it a chance. I didn't get far. I found the book to be slow and tedious. I called my friend and asked why he gave me this boring book. My friend told me to get past the first 100 pages.

I did and found myself identifying closely with Paul Atreides,  the protagonist of Dune. I cannot explain how profound that experience was and how Frank Herbert's philosophy affected me. Since that time, I have read Dune and all six of Herbert's original Dune series books once a year for 35 years. I know the book very well. I also read some of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's expanded Dune universe. I also incorporated many of Dune's principles into my life and how I raised my children.

With a new Dune movie out, we could celebrate by looking into  Crysknife from Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic novel, Dune.

Now, I have done a couple of videos concerning Dune. 

One video features the central religious text of the  Imperium, The Orange Catholic Bible. It's a fascinating book if you are into comparative religions. I'll leave a link in the description.

The other video focused on the two versions of Crysknifes from David Lynch's 1984 version and the 2000 and 2003 Sy Fy mini-series of Dune and Children of Dune.

Here are the links to those videos:

Orange Catholic Bible 

Dune Crysknifes from 1984 and 2000 - 2003

A Crysknife is the sacred weapon of the Fremen on Arrakis. It is made from the teeth taken from dead sandworms, and to understand the importance of the crysknife, we must look at its origins. And therefore, we must briefly talk about sandworms, 

Before moving to Arrakis, Paul talked with Yueh (A million deaths for Yueh). He provided the young man with a filmbook on a small specimen that was only 110 meters long.

Better known on the planet Arrakis as Shai-Hulud. The Old Man of the Desert, Old Father Eternity, and Grandfather of the Desert, the Fremen, had a few names for this entity. The name Shai-Hulud, when referred to in a specific tone or written with capital letters, designates the earth deity of Fremen hearth superstitions.  

Sandworms grow to enormous size (specimens longer than 400 meters have been seen in the deep desert) and live to great age unless slain by one of their fellows or drowned in water, which is poisonous. 

Most of the sand on Arrakis is credited to sandworm action. Arrakis was a moist planet, and upon the arrival of the sandtrout, they encysted all the water to transform into the sandworm. This aligned with the tangible proof discovered on Arrakis, which consisted of salt beds that seemed to have been vast oceans in the past.

Large bodies of water may be encased by Sandtrout, converting a whole terraformed planet into a desert and enabling the survival of Sandworms, which cannot exist in a wet environment. In Dune, the sandworms evoke a fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power.

I know there are various Dune Crysknife replicas on the market today. However, instead, I once again went with a creator on Etsy. The crysknife was produced by Stupendous Props. 

Villeneuve gives us a first peek at the Crysknife in the new Dune remake we now call Part 1, when, like in the David Lynch version, the Shadout Mapes presents Jessica with the Crysknife as a gift. 

Later, near the end of Part 1, Paul and Jessica are captured by the Fremen after escaping with Kyne's help from the Ecological base when it is overrun by

Sardaukar. Paul is forced to fight Jamis. Jamis is that guy. The typical dissenter is always complaining and challenging Stilgar's authority.

We see the crysknife as the chosen weapon of the Fremen.

Apparently, the Crysknife can break. As Jamis calls out, May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter.

During Part 2, there are various scenes where the knife is flashed but not necessarily featured.

That is, until near the end, Paul captures the Emperor and his entourage. Paul kills the Baron with his crysknife, and then a short bit later, he fights a duel with Feyd-Rautha to the death. 

The battle looks realistic and looks like any modern close-quarter hand-to-hand knife battle. 

Kudos to the actors for pulling it off.

The knife is delivered in a cardboard poster tube. It is well-sealed with packing tape.

As you can see, the replica is wrapped well with bubble wrap. Very well wrapped.

The blade is silver-looking, directly contrasting with the colored blades of the two previous films.

The blade is 3d printed in PLA. The sword and hilt are glued together instead of printed in one piece. The hilt is painted silver and brown, giving it a leathery look. Near the hilt, there is some decorative scrolling.

Now, according to the book Dune, the Freman manufactures the crysknife in two forms: The two forms are "fixed" and "unfixed." An unfixed knife requires proximity to a human body's electrical field to prevent disintegration. 

Fixed knives are treated for storage. 

All are about 20 centimeters. As mentioned, the 2021 and 2024 Crysknife versions are a bit longer.

The Stupendous Props Crysknife is 20.5 inches or 50.7 centimeters long. The blade itself is 14.5 inches, which is 36.83 centimeters.

The blade comes in 4 VERSIONS
*DIY kit for you to make (blade and sheath)
*Painted blade only
*Painted blade and sheath.
*Painted blade and sheath with a leather strap attached to the sheath.

The knife is very lightweight. No more than a few ounces.

I am sure many of you have seen either or both of Deni Villenue's adaptations of Frank Herbert's book.  

I have learned to separate the two mediums after being so engrossed and deeply affected by the novels. Stephan King taught me that lesson. People like stories, and this is just another rendition of that story.

Villeneuve does an excellent job with both of his films, keeping the central theme in place: Dune, in essence, is a Greek tragedy on the scale of Homer. The hubris is on full display by almost all characters, especially Paul Muad'Dib, the Lisan al Gaib, the voice from the outer world. 

Deni Villanueva, for whatever reasons he had, I will not question him on that, decided either for time constraints, budget, or resources, to eliminate many scenes and characters that show the underlying motivations of the great houses, the nuances of the culture of the Imperium, and of the Freman.

As I said, Villeneuve hit the major plot points while streamlining the story and changed a few of those plot points to tell a somewhat different story. In doing so, he wants to take us in a different direction, but I am sure he will ultimately end up in the same place by the end of the next sequel. Dune Messiah.

The political statement, while decidedly different than the subtle and gradual understanding that emerges in the books, is more explicit in the film.

For example, the southern fundamentalist freemen who have a presupposition of their dogmatic beliefs are willing to run headlong into the acceptance of a prophecy that is not divine but ultimately manmade, or in this case, Woman-made.

Is this a direct statement of our times politically?  I leave that to the dear viewer.

The film is an amazing cinematic event. Everything about the production of Dune is fantastic and draws the viewer into experience.

Overall, the new Dune films are excellent as long as you let go of the novels to enjoy the visuals, the special effects, the grandeur, and the scale of this epic tale.

For me, the best Dune films are the ones I create in my mind as I read or think back about scenes in the novel and picture them as I imagine them to be.

So, after high school, I returned from the desert and enjoyed the ocean, the cool breeze, and moderate temperatures. Once again, the desert beckoned me to return. And I heeded its call and have remained in the desert for over half my life.

The desert is my home.