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Yeah, DUNE sure is the runt of the Lynch litter but there are still
aspects of it that I really love, even for all its cockeyed,
I didn't see this movie for approximately a decade because it had the reputation, still held in most quarters, of being one of the most infamous bombs of recent memory. However, despite my initial indifference I caught it - by complete accident - on free-to-air TV one night and was immediately hooked from the first sight of its memorable, unexpected future-baroque production design. From that point on, being led through the strange world of the Emperor and his entourage on Kaitain, the oddly-garbed Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, and the Guild Navigator emissaries in all their variously-staged mutated splendour, I was hopelessly infatuated with all things DUNE.
Now, I am fully aware that by most conventional definitions DUNE is not a good film. Actually, since having read all the books in the DUNE saga I am astonished to think that anybody thought that such a property could ever be a commercially viable option for mainstream cinema. It has concepts that tend to demand your full attention, which is mostly box office poison. However I loved the sheer scope of it, the fact that I was being bombarded with scores of unfamiliar terms and concepts which to me had always been the essence of pure science fiction. That it made for a choppy and often confusing cinematic experience mattered to me not at all. I was too much in love with the idea of it all and the weird, alien ambiance which only Lynch could have given the movie. Atreides, Harkonnens, Mentats, Fremen, Sandworms - I just wanted more, more, more. Superb cast, alluring music, stunning visuals - all contributing to an uncommonly arresting, unquestionably unique, cinematic experience.
For all its failures I can't even imagine what any contemporary of Lynch might have done with the material. My point is this: David Lynch's DUNE, warts and all, made me excited enough to want to read all the books in Herbert's sprawling saga. These volumes had been around for years. I'd seen them gathering dust in my local public library yet I felt no compulsion to read them. After seeing DUNE I couldn't wait to rush down and grab them off the shelves. That's why I'll always defend the film and why I refuse to write it off as the disastrous failure that so many regard it to be. In my mind DUNE is a success because it completely sold me on Frank Herbert's universe - a no more strangely beautiful, intellectually stimulating nor fascinating one had I ever seen on film - and compelled me to go ever further into it. I do accept most of the criticisms that the casual moviegoer has of the film but I simply can't hate it.
In short, if you are curious about the film and are familiar with all the bad and discouraging press it has received over the years, yet remain a fan of exceptional fantasy or science fiction, do not be discouraged. You may find that it has elements that may just move you, bewilder you, or tantalise your imagination. You may come to agree, like a growing number of us, that it really is not so deserving of the excoriation that it has suffered at the hands - or pens - of its harshest critics. If you go into it with a forgiving mindset then you may be well rewarded. And then - if you haven't already - read the saga itself. It is formidably great!
To begin with, I have to say that I saw the movie first, and read the book
years later. This seems to be important: Nearly everybody who read the book
first hates the movie, but most of those who saw the movie first seem to
Now, why is this so? I cannot really understand it because, in comparition to other movies based on existing literature, what we have here is a film which stays very close to the original story and does not add many new elements.
When I read the book, I could see the movie in front of me in nearly every chapter. So I really don't understand what Herbert-Fans had expected from this movie...
I for my part like it a lot. It has a very mystical atmosphere about it and the story develops nicely. Of course there are some elements which are simply not explained and are therefore very confusing, but somehow this seems to be a thing Lynch tends to do in every of his movies, so what? I like some simple scenes like the opening monologue a whole lot. I LOVE the music (which played in my mind all the time while I read the book), and I think the characters are very strong and (for example Letho Atreides) sometimes full of tragedy.
The part I like the most though is the worm-part. I think the special effects are not always brilliant, but seeing the scenes with the worms, I am really awestruck because they are so impressing.
All in all, I think this is one of the more underrated movies in Science Fiction history. It may be because the director himself was not happy with it, or because fans expected too much from a simple two hour movie. I always enjoy watching this film and listening to the soundtrack. And I would love to see a Director's Cut version.
First of all I've read Herberts Dune saga and I loved the first book
(the one the movie is about) and liked the rest.
Second there is a difference between the cinema version (137 min) and the TV version (190 min often referred also "special edition") which should also not be confused with the new version from 2000 (Frank Herbert's Dune). To keep it short the 137 version is great and the 190 min version sucks.
The TV version was split up to fill 2 evenings. For that they added about an hour of additional material not seen in the original version. While some of it is quite good like the prologue which went a little bit deeper into the Dune universe (Butlers Djihad) but most of it just destroys the atmosphere and the flow of the movie. On the technical side there is to note that the whole movie was Pan-Scanned which never is a good idea. Compared to the original version the quality really blows.
Now to the good one:
The movie is pretty much faithful to the book. There are things that were cut out from the book or it shows stuff that wasn't there, but what you see is CLEARLY Herbert's book which I thought is nearly impossible to translate into a (good) movie. It translates the "feel" of the book very well to the screen.
The most notable differences is that in the book Paul is at the age of 15 (at least at the beginning) while McLachlan more looks like 20 but I can live with that. The rest are minor things (like these sound modules) and some differences in continuity (the navigators needing the spice to well... navigate is revealed at the beginning).
The all actors give a solid performances. Notable are Kenneth McMillan (Baron Harkonnen) Patrick "Captain Picard" Steward (Gurney Halleck) and Sting as Feyd Rautha which really add to the movie.
The special effects range from crappy to good. The movie shines where it 's most important namely the sand worms which look fairly convincing. Personally I prefer (well done) miniature shots over those Episode 1/2 CGI effects which make especially environments look like plastic.
I think everybody who calls himself a Science-Fiction fan should have seen this movie which is a jewel under all those mediocre films that were spawned by Star Wars at that time. All the fans of the book should see it as what it is: A movie based on Dune. If you want the book word by word, don't watch the movie and read the book again.
There are two groups of people who write at IMDb, the pessimists and the
optimists. The pessimists love to complain about something or other in a
film. The optimists try and find something good. DUNE probably ranks as
of those that feels like it's going to be good, but leaves a confusing,
lackluster feeling in its wake. In an attempt to be optimistic, I will try
focusing ONLY on the good parts. This might be tough.
I will give David Lynch credit (indeed, as Frank Herbert did when he saw this) for trying to take an enormous amalgamation of things and ideas from the novel and trying to turn them into a movie. Lynch's visual style is very raw here and everything in the production design seems to be under his spell.
The sets, costumes, cinematography, and choice of cast is excellent. All of them lend a flavor of difference that transcends whatever confusion is on the screen. (On the side note: I was sick of hearing Kyle MacLachlan repeating himself over and over) The creature designs by Carlo Rambaldi are very Lynch-ien, even though we rarely get to see them.
Overall, a sci-fi epic that requires a lethargic butt, an open mind, and a copy of Frank Herbert's novel to enjoy. Still, it is far superior to the TV miniseries of late (I know saying that is blasphemy to some). I refuse to rate this with stars or anything else.
I've talked to quite a few die-hard Herbert fans who insist that this
film is rubbish. Well, I personally feel that this film is one of the
most lavish and elegant science fiction movies ever made. I think it's
wonderful, and am happy to have it in my collection.
The movie itself inspired me to read the next couple of books in the series.
I do agree however that there are some scenes that need to be added in a definitive collection. There are a couple of sequences from the Alan Smithee bootleg version - such as when the water of the Fremen warrior that Paul defeated in combat is re-absorbed into the collective water supply - that are absolutely vital to the story. Yet scenes like this were cut out of the final movie version that we all see on DVD.
Every time I see this film I like it more, yet can see why people would
dislike this movie, and I can sum up it's shortcoming this
Not close enough to the book to humour the people who have read the book, to confusing for people who have not. Thus Lynch managed to get a lot of bad press about this near masterpiece.
It is very difficult to fit the plot of Herbert's masterpiece into 130 minutes, but I think Lynch did a good job, sadly he added som stuff that was not in the book. Where Lynch does excel is in setting the mood. To help him he had probably the best possible cast for such a movie and the best musical score ever. The acting overall is excellent (except possibly Maclachlan and Jones) and for me who read the book before seeing the film, it is hard not to see Stewart as Halleck. The timing of the acting and events is almost perfect. If Lynch had had help by a better scriptwriter to curb some of his wilder additions and flesh out the plot a bit and this could have been one of the best sci-fi movies ever. As is, it is very good, but somewhat flawed.
Viewers can be divided into two categories. The first are those who are looking for flashy expensive over the top graphics with some decent dialogue and structure. The second group in this case are those of you out there who love the Dune Series and would rather be in-depth with the plot then see the flashy over the top Graphics. The casting and portrayal of characters in this film FAR surpasses the ones who tried more recently to redo the movie (TV version). I Recommend One Thing if you do see this movie. WATCH THE 3 hour version. It goes much more in-depth then the normal version and is much easier to follow. The Film is worth watching at least once, and for me, its worth watching time after time.
Over the years, I have come to the understanding that there are two schools
of though here. Some people absolutely hate this movie and other absolutely
love it. I'm of the latter school, regularly enjoying Lynch's twisted take
on the late Herbert's fantastic story. The story follows the House Atreides
on a planetary move to the spice mining world of Arakis. With it, comes the
power struggle and life and death situations commonly associated with
Dark and interesting, Lynch has managed to capture all of Herbert's story and mix it with some of his sick and twisted ideas. A must watch for Lynch and Herbert fans.
My review covers both versions of Dune, the 2 hour release and the
extended 3 hour "Smithee" version aired on television. The first cut of
the film was over four hours long, but there was never any intention to
release this, and Lynch himself shot scenes which consolidated the
final product into a more manageable length.
Allen Smithee, a protest pseudonym adopted by Lynch when he disassociated himself with the 3 hour version of this film, is also alluded to in Lynch's latest film - Inland Empire. A portion of a film studio in Inland Empire is "Smithee's Room" - a metaphorical insight into Lynch's feelings about Dune, and studio-controlled film-making in general.
Given the tremendous investment made by the studio, Lynch's general distaste for the final product, the repetitive cliché soundtrack, and the occasionally bizarre use of voice-over narrative in the TV version, it seems more a DeLaurentis film than a Lynch film. Although I am very interested in Lynch's films and other projects, I am evaluating this solely from my own perspective. Despite the great director's poor opinion of this film, I enjoyed it and it is one of my favorite sci-fi films.
Frank Herbert, author of the novel upon which it is based, approved the theatrical version, but he had the benefit of knowing what he was going to see. If you haven't read the book, these films can be somewhat difficult to understand. And if you come to the experience expecting something like Star Wars, you should probably find something else to do.
The soundtrack is repetitive and only interesting the first time you hear the film's major theme (the Eno composition). The use of rock orchestration simply does not work in this film. Happily, Lynch learned from the experience and used rock instrumentation beautifully in later films (especially Wild at Heart and Lost Highway). The camera work is generally less inspired than the rest of Lynch's portfolio. There are occasional visually striking scenes which will remind you of the film's origin, but there are too many static shots - especially during the action scenes. The soundtrack is easy to explain - like the inclusion of Sting in the cast - this is a marketing move by the production company, not a creative choice of the director. The camera work is much less easily explained. Perhaps Lynch was asked to avoid doing anything surreal or bizarre with this film (sort of like asking Groucho Marx to avoid being funny), or the studio was trying to appeal to fans of Star Wars by simplifying and sterilizing its story.
The recently released special edition DVD reveals some very interesting aspects of the production. Lynch's influence, not surprisingly, is best explored in the short documentary concerning the film's design. As an artist, Lynch spent a great deal of time and energy envisioning the material culture both historical and modern of each culture depicted in the film, helping to create a consistent and unique characterization for each. This spilled over quite naturally into costume design. The sets and costumes used in this film are really spectacular. The special effects, often derided by contemporary viewers, required a great deal more effort that the synthetic art of today's computerized extravaganzas and, the documentary concerning their production on the DVD is also appropriately respectful.
What you will see is an intense visualization of several, fully realized alien cultures whose art, architecture and general heritage are as well realized, if not more so, than in Herbert's epic novel. To fully appreciate this, don't just check out the extras on the DVD, turn down the sound and just watch the sets, costumes, and effects move through each scenes. There is, as with Lynch's entire portfolio, a great deal to be seen. And the acting and direction are fine throughout the film.
The longer version fleshes out the stories, themes and intricate subplots of Herbert's book more thoroughly, and maintains a much steadier pace than the cinematic release. Even so, both films, to some extent, suffer from too much story, overwhelming visualization, and a un-Lynchian frenetic pace. The later TV mini-series by the sci fi channel does a better job of telling the story in its entirety, but runs about 246 minutes and does not compare to the original in terms of design. Lynch's cinematic release, by contrast, rushes through components of the book and often feels inconsistent in pace.
PLOT: Dune is the story of Paul "Muad'ib" Atreides, the son of Duke Leto Atreides the Just and his Bene Jesserat concubine Lady Jessica. Combining aspects of fantasy, sci-fi and anthropology, the story follows young Paul through a series of tragedies which find him seeking redemption for an entire galaxy by leading an adoptive tribal culture to a revolutionary cleansing of the malignant imperial system from which he sprung. The plot is exceedingly complex in both Lynch versions of the film much is left out of Herbert's original work. Subplots abound, but, true to form, Lynch avoids short-cuts as much as possible and attempts to show his audience what is going on rather than resorting to a great deal of voice-over narrative in the theatrical release. The TV version, however, attempts to provide even more detail, and uses voice-over to patch up the areas glossed over by Lynch's script.
SUMMARY: If you're a Lynch fan and not a big Herbert fan or you don't have a great deal of patience, see the cinematic release. It is the class of the lot.
If you haven't read the book, or you are a Herbert purist who will accept only what was written, choose the Sci-Fi Channel version (review forthcoming soon) - but be forewarned - it is very long.
If you want something that compromises between story and cinematic artistry, go for the TV version. The weakest link, but still OK.
Dune. At first, I only knew it from the games. Then I found out there
were books, and after that, there was a movie. I'm talking 2000 here,
and I've only just recently seen it. More than 20 years after the movie
was made, and seeing it in this era of very cunning special fx and 3D
does make it look dated a bit. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. The
movie is pretty good actually. But the problem with it is, that you
can't tell the whole Dune-story in just one movie: it should have been
a two or even three-piece like LOTR. People completely unfamiliar with
the Dune-story and world will ask themselves after viewing it: 'what
the hell was that all about?' while I myself say: 'that was quite nice
actually'. The budget was no less than 40 million dollars, huge huge
for 1984. And it shows: the costumes, ships, decors and worm-fx are
great. If it would be made in this year, it would probably be
brilliant. In 1984 it was a bit limited because of technological
limits, not creative ones.
Yes, I liked it, and once more added a new dimension of understanding for me to the story of Dune. The spice, the houses, the Fremen, the worms, everything is a bit clearer now. 7 out of 10, just good.
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