2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Dune (1984)
Cast: Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica
Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides
Jose Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck
Sting as Feyd-Rautha
Brad Dourif as Piter De Vries
Dean Stockwell as Dr. Wellington Yueh
Max Von Sydow as Dr. Kynes
Sean Young as Chani
Based on the novel by Frank Herbert
Screenplay by David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch
Plot: Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto Atreides, finds himself the target of an evil galactic emperor and Baron Harkonnen after they conspire to assassinate the Duke. The battleground becomes the planet known as Dune with the priceless Spice Melange coveted by everyone. And there appears to be more to Paul than just the son of the fallen Duke.
Richard’s Review: Frank Herbert’s novel Dune is considered by many as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. It’s also a complex story that remains a challenge to film. I saw this movie with friends at the Cinema East Theater in Wichita, KS, when it opened in December 1984. I knew it would be a hard movie to follow when the ushers handed everyone a special terminology cheat sheet. It was indeed and, unfortunately, time hasn’t made it any easier to understand.
Visually, the film is usually quite good, despite the occasional sub-standard special effect. The cast is stellar and the overall presentation is such that you feel like you’re going to watch an epic. However, as the movie progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow due to some horrendous editing, especially in two battle sequences. Characters move from room to room in a blink of an eye without any explanation and others reappear after being absent for nearly an hour. The end result is a confusing mess of a film that should have been much better.
This was my first time watching Dune in 20 years. We watched the original theatrical version, which explains why the movie was a box office failure. A televised longer cut helps to bridge some of the gaps and explain some of the muddled script. However, since David Lynch refuses to acknowledge that version and has no plans to help with a director’s version, this may very well be the definitive cut. I saw fragments of a promising film but, in the end, I walked away wishing the studios had allowed David Lynch’s vision to be completed.
Karla’s Thoughts: I have seen Dune at least 20 times over the years, possibly more, and I’ve grown to really enjoy the film. It’s actually one of my all-time favorites. Having also seen the extended version, it helps to understand some of the film’s more complicated story lines. I do wish it would have been more true to the book, which really deserves a longer cut, possibly even separated into two films. I also would have loved to have seen more of this universe, which is far more interesting than a standard good guy vs. bad guy scenario.
May I Also Suggest: As an interesting companion piece to Dune (1984), I highly recommend Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), an amazing documentary and glimpse into what director Alejandro Jodorwosky attempted to make in the mid 1970’s. With cast members like Orson Welles, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, the artistic visions of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger, as well as the music of Pink Floyd, it would have been either an artistic masterpiece or the biggest train wreck of cinematic history.
- Arthur Jacobs wanted to make Dune in 1971 before his death. Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted it in the mid 70s before Dino De Laurentiis and Frank Herbert himself started to work on a version. After being handed over to Ridley Scott, who turned it down to move forward with Blade Runner (1982), it eventually was given to David Lynch.
- The original cut of Dune ran over four hours long with David Lynch’s version running closer to three. Universal wanted something more standard for the time period, so Dino, his daughter Raffaella and Lynch cut even more down, along with some reshot scenes and voice-over narrations, to finish at 136 minutes.
- Dune was intended to be the start of a trilogy. David Lynch was working on the script for Dune Messiah when the sequel was canceled due to the poor reception at the box office.
- Rock group Toto composed most of the film score with Brian Eno contributing one track.
- David Lynch has said since he regrets having ever directed Dune.