On Dune and Swordplay
There are three screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune: the 1984 Lynch film, the 2000 miniseries, and the 2021 Villeneuve film.
None of these films seem to understand the melee concept that Herbert was trying to impress with the development of shields. The novel’s glossary says this:
Shields negated most projectile weapons, so there was a return to melee. But, because only slow-moving objects can penetrate a shield, even melee fighting has its limitations. Bludgeons rely on speed/momentum, and wouldn’t be effective against shields.
Same for axes… but also for many swords and the way they are used. Consider a sword like a cutlass or a falchion. To slash with the edge requires the same momentum as a club or axe.
This brings me back to the three cinematic adaptations of Dune. While the idea of slow=penetrate is mentioned or illustrated, it’s only in a cursory manner, and then it’s right back to the same kind of fighting we’re all used to seeing: big slashes which won’t work vs shields
We see this happen in the training session with Paul and Gurney. Slow blade penetration is mentioned and illustrated, but then it’s right back to relying primarily on big (i.e. fast) slashes.
(I still enjoyed the film, btw)
I imagine a Duniverse style would look like one of two things, or perhaps a combination:
1. 2-blade styles which use the long blade to “open the door” (clear the opponent’s weapon) and the short blade as the “killer” (as per some Kali and Euro styles)
2. and/or a modified epee fencing style, in which the length of the blade can parry or bind, but only the point is used for the attack.
I can see some emphasis on binding and trapping/disarming, too. Old fencing/WMA and kali/escrima styles are big on these.
Misdirection & deception, particularly at close/infighting range might be more prevalent in a setting with shield fighting.
I understand audiences like dramatic action, and I enjoyed all three Dune adaptations for different reasons. But I can’t help thinking that some opportunities were missed in melee choreography in these endeavors.