University of Tampa Press Interviews: On Dune: An Interview with Kwasu Tembo

After the publication of our 13th edition of Studies in the Fantastic, our intern Krystal Conley interviewed Dr. Kwasu Tembo regarding his review of the latest cinematic adaptation of Dune. Krystal wanted to know what inspired Dr. Tembo to write this “review essay,” a new form for the journal, somewhat between an informal opinion review and a formal research article.  

The criticism that this new Dune was receiving, both before and after its release, and the anticipation Dr. Tembo felt as he watched the initial release of movie trailers and teaser posters led to his desire to watch the new version of Dune and honestly critique it for himself. In this review he shares his view of the Denis Villeneuve 2021 adaptation given his extensive knowledge of the book, comparing it to previous Dune movies, and taking on popular criticisms of the latest version. The journal’s editor, Sarah Juliet Lauro, said, “This review essay is about more than Frank Herbert’s Dune and the successive adaptations of it; Tembo’s poetic musings on Villeneuve’s film speak of how hard it is to love a text profoundly and have to share it with the rest of the world.” 

NOTE: These are excerpts pulled from a longer conversation between Krystal Conley and Dr. Kwasu Tembo: 

Krystal Conley: You mentioned in your piece that there were many areas you could have delved into but refrained from doing so. How difficult was it to pick what to analyze regarding Dune?   

Kwasu Tembo: There are, as I tried to even cursorily intimate, a range of concepts, images, aspects of performance, photography, and transliteration that could occupy an analysis far lengthier than mine more than comfortably. What fascinated me about Villeneuve’s effort is the feeling that he attempted to… represent[–] the strangely wyrd [sic] and haunting immersive vagueness that I feel is at the core of the text. I admire his navigation of empty space, and the risk of the attempt, the creative and commonsensical means of achieving something definitionally self-contradictory…

to let a desert be a desert. 

I decided to set aside perhaps more concrete areas of discussion to try and analyze this strange effect of evacuated grandiosity Villeneuve seems to achieve in his adaptation.    

Krystal Conley: What was the most difficult part of writing this piece?   

Kwasu Tembo: In short, it was difficult to conform to the 2-odd minute read-time of a typical film review. Trying to be Apollonian – meticulous albeit restrained – about my passion for the Dune diegesis was a challenge. 

Krystal Conley: What are other aspects of the topic that you hope future scholars will investigate?   

Kwasu Tembo: I hope that the question of whether less can ever be more in the super sensorium is considered both worthwhile and pursued. 

To read Dr. Kwasu Tembo’s review of Dune, you can purchase his article here

If you want to purchase the 13th edition of Studies in the Fantastic, it is available in digital form, paperback, or on Amazon