Sunday, 2 January 2011

Are you a Member of the CULT? - DUNE (Universal, 1984)

Frank Herbert's DUNE was first published in the 1960's, and became somewhat of a cult classic. Chronicling the events in the young adult life of Paul Atreides, as his family take control of the planet Arrakis aka DUNE in the year 10,191, through a plot by the Emperor Shaddam IV, Ruler of the Known Universe, to rid himself of Duke Leto by the families arch nemesis, the Baron Harkkonan. Many times after the first publication, a film was to have been made, with the rights changing many hands, until they fell into the hands of Dino De Laurentis. Unfortunately, after a poor performance at the box office, and being blasted by critics, Lynch disowned the film, but it's hard to see why.

Don't sniff up.
For a start, if you take the time to watch it, it is a good film. Yes, some things are hard to understand at times, but upon repeated watchings, it does become clearer. The special effects are awesome, with the worm effects  being the best I've ever seen (a 6 foot high man standing next to a 600 foot worm is astonishing). The music is superb, with the Prophecy theme by Brian Eno and the other music by Toto, it all adds to the atmosphere of the film. Kyle MacLachlan plays Paul with a real conviction, even though it was his first role. It's a shame that Max Von Sydow had not much screen time, as he played Doctor Keynes really well. An honourable mention must go to Sting as Feyd-Rautha, Baron Harkkonan's younger nephew. For him to be able to play someone so cold blooded really goes against type for him, as you can see the emotion in him, especially in his knife fight  with Paul.
Don't stand so, don't stand so close to me!
As with all films like this, there was meddling with the studio. Universal wanted a two-hour length film, and Lynch's original ran for 4 hours without the effects, three hours after effects were added, and an additional 43 minutes cut which is what the studio wanted. When it came to do a TV version, Lynch did not want to, and did a petition to the DGA to have his name fully removed from the credits and distanced himself from it. The result was a three-hour long version, with a tacked in prologue (with hand drawn paintings and a male voice over instead of Virginia Madson), extended shots and added scenes that were, until that time, unseen and in which many special effects shots were re-used to such an extent, it made no sense at all (in some shots, they re-used the Guild Navigators ship landing scene from the opening for many other landings in the film). Although it was an ok version, it's mainly a curio for others who wish to see another version of the film.
Now, THAT'S big!!!
I think it is something of a flawed masterpiece myself. Sure, some performances are a bit naff (when Jessica senses something about her husband Leto for example. Bit on the shit side), and some say you must read the book before viewing the film. But, that's something you must decide for yourself.


  1. always had a soft spot for this movie, never understood why it was so panned.

  2. I don't either. As I said, it's a flawed masterpiece. Universal should have left Lynch to make the movie HE wanted. Still love it though.

  3. I agree with you two.

    Cult movie.

    Nice site, I will visit it again.

  4. Thanks aitor1979. You're more than welcome to drop by.