Dune (1984)

DailyView: Day 81, Movie 138

I am not sure I understood any of this.

Worse yet, I got bored quickly and I am not sure I cared to pay attention enough to understand what was going on.

A new version of Dune is scheduled to come out later this year with Timothée Chalamet starring so I wanted to make sure I had the chance to watch this 1984 version, directed by David Lynch. Like all Lynch projects, this demands your full attention. Unfortunately, I found that to be a more difficult task than even I thought.

I love Kyle MacLachlan. He would go on from here to his iconic role of Agent Cooper on Twin Peaks. You can see the charisma from him here, but the tightness of the script was just not there to really embrace him as Paul Atreides. Kenneth McMillan is utterly disgusting as the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Watching bits of goo fly from his mouth/face as he spoke was gross. I was also shocked to see Patrick Stewart here.

I knew Sting was in the film, but he does not do much. He has an imposing presence in Dune and it would have been great if he were more involved.

Special effects were fine for 1984, but I would be lying to say that the obvious green screens were not distracting for me. I know that is not fair to the movie since it was a product of the time, but it did play into my viewing of the film. The upcoming version will certainly have CGI at a considerably higher level.

There was a lot of exposition in the movie, which, again, I understand. You have a lot of set up for the world to be understood at all. However, David Lynch has never been one to use exposition and you can tell by how clunky the exposition is here. There are better ways to deliver exposition and Dune could have benefitted from these techniques.

I thought that watching the 1984 version was a necessary step before the new film coming out in December, but I feel as confused as ever. Hopefully, Denis Villeneuve will have more success at engaging me in the story than this Dune did.

2 thoughts on “Dune (1984)

  1. Its a broken movie. Needed to be three hours long but back in 1984, no way was a sci-fi movie going to be three hours long. The book is brilliant, a huge Ben Hur-scale epic of treachery and revenge, but condensed its just.. well, imagine cutting Charlton Heston’s Ben Hur to 90 minutes, you’d lose everything and that happened to David Lynch’s Dune. Mind, saying that, its effects were dated even back in 1983 (back in those days, only ILM or EEG/Boss Film could have pulled off Dune- its different these days, there are loads of effects houses but back then only two) and the performances were a bit off, the casting too weird for its own good (I mean, Sting?) and Lynch really… with all due respect, he’s no Hollywood blockbuster director.

    So anyway, its a wonder Dune is any good at all. I think the art direction is cool and the first half ok, but as it goes on and it runs out of running time it just falls apart. Villeneuve is doing it in two parts (it appears that the first film ends after the Harkonnen attack) which is a better way of doing it to be faithful to the scope but risky, I mean if it flops we won’t get Part Two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I would be worried about a movie like Dune not doing enough business to warrant the second one. Denis has some great movies, but not necessarily hits. So I expect that the film will be better, but I hope it gets that part 2.

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