The twins of Paul "Muad'dib" Atreides become embroiled in the political landscape of Arrakis ("Dune") and the rest of the universe.The twins of Paul "Muad'dib" Atreides become embroiled in the political landscape of Arrakis ("Dune") and the rest of the universe.The twins of Paul "Muad'dib" Atreides become embroiled in the political landscape of Arrakis ("Dune") and the rest of the universe.
In the sixties, that narrative was built around ecological awareness and hallucinogens. The only question was what "ancient" tradition would provide the vocabulary. George Harrison was pushing an amalgam of several Hindu traditions.
Meanwhile, hippies were engaging in Sufism. West coasters deemed the desert holy. Nomadism, especially the type of communal asceticism of Arabs (which we knew largely by Lean's film of Lawrence, himself an admirer of Arab wisdom) was the subtext of the Pranksters and Hog Farmers.
Into this opportunity, Herbert spun his tale. It has the story of a normal potboiler, but set in an idealized world of drugs, stylized Islam and telepathy. And sand, and nomads and Semitic-sounding words. It is a remarkable work on its own merits, but made more remarkable when seen as a template for new age spiritualism that didn't catch on.
I believe it didn't because the narrative isn't intrinsically cinematic. When reading it, you didn't see a movie because his language doesn't provide visual details. Making a movie of the Dune material needs to recognize the power of this missed template for an American spiritual movement, something which enters into the story proper. And it needs to provide the missing visual elements of style.
For all its other faults, one can admire the Lynch project. He was stuck using artists with crass vocabularies and a vulgar sponsor. But I consider Alicia Witt's brief appearance one of the landmarks of film. And there are a few other decisions he made which showed he knew the score.
This version and its prequel are lush. All the space we expect to be filled with elements of style is indeed filled, and filled with something that obviously entailed effort. But none of what we see fits the peculiar world of the books. Where the platform of the narrator in the book is sparse, this is opulent. Where the book indicates Islamic decor, here we have an amalgam of Frank Lloyd Wright and Hedwig. Where we expect to see real witchcraft distortions of space, we get no change. Where we expect to see hardness of logic and ineffability of vision in the spaces of mentats and navigators, we get no change.
We don't even get much change between the two radically different planets portrayed, except Sarandon's headgear is more foppish.
Unfortunately, lots of money has been spent on this and enough people are satisfied that we may never see it done right.
Interesting though how that one decision of Lynch's to use red hair has trickled into the mother, the daughter, the erstwhile lover and the sister. When it isn't overtly red, it is lit so.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
- Apr 20, 2005