Dune (1984) – David Lynch

David Lynch is always an interesting filmmaker, and more often than not, his films are wonderfully confusing and eccentric, Twin Peaks will always be my favorite of these, though Mulholland  Drive is probably a close second.

The 101 Sci-Fi Movies list brought me his adaptation of Dune to rewatch, and while I can appreciate it more now than I did when I first saw it, it still is very far from being his best work.

I saw this film when it first came out, after I had read the first book in Frank Herbert’s series. So at least I knew about the guilds, the families, and some of the politics that the world had created, but I was complete confused by the introduction of the voice modulators for the “Weirding Way.”

Despite it’s all-star cast, the stunning Francesca Annis, Patrick Stewart, Kyle MacLachlan, Dean Stockwell, Sting, Brad Dourif, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Virginia Madsen, Sean Young, Everett McGill, and Jurgen Prochnow the film is still a mess, no matter what cut of the film you watch, though Lynch has sworn off of all of them, and has had no involvement with any of the extended cuts that have been released.

kyleMacLachlan plays Paul Atreides the son of a Duke has been assigned to the desert planet of Arrakis to oversee the flow of the spice melange which allows the space guilds to fold space, uniting the known universe. In other words, whoever controls the spice, has the power.

The film’s villains, the Harkonnens, are feuding with the Atreides family, and the Emperor (Ferrer) is using that to eliminate the Duke (Prochnow), whom he sees as a threat.

Unfortunately, Paul and his mother Jessica (Annis) escape into the deep desert avoiding the giant worms that move all over the planet and have a unique connection to the spice. There they find the Fremen, who recognizing Paul as a the messiah of their prophecies take him in, and together they prepare for the final battle for control of Dune, the spice, and everything beyond.

wormI like the costume design (Bob Ringwood), the music (Toto) and the whole kind of neo-baroque, steam-punkish approach to the tech design of the world. But for all that some of the special effects are incredibly hokey, even for the mid-80s. The creature designs are by Carlo Rambaldi, and some of them are pretty interesting, especially the navigators, when you consider that at one point, there were supposed to be human.

In the end, I think the film tries to do too much in the time length it’s given, back when a film had to be two hours so it could play as many times in a day as possible. But tackling something like Dune without giving it all the due attention it needs, even the mini-series from 2000 didn’t seem to do it complete justice, and lacked the look and feel of the Lynchian creation.

virginiaIn the end, the film has become a cult favorite, and it is not without its merits, Vigrinia Madsen for starters. But, it’s more a curiosity to sit through, than a film to be viewed. But perhaps that is just me.

Still, it does have a number of quotable lines, great actors, and cool costumes.

What did you think of it?


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