David Lynch wades through dark waters in his adaptation of Frank Herbert's cult science fiction novel. In condensing Herbert's rambling and complex book by eliminating characters and compacting events, Lynch succeeds in rendering the story incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the novel and making the film look like a sketchy greatest hits collection of the book for Herbert fans. The story takes place in the year 10,191. The universe is governed through a system of feudal rule, presided over by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (José Ferrer), who appears to take his marching orders from something that resembles a talking vagina. In the kingdom are two rival houses -- the House of Atreides and the House of Harkonnen. Each house is trying to gain dominion over the universe, but that dominion can only be gained by the house that controls the Spice, a special substance that permits the folding of time. The Spice is only available on the desert world of Arrakis, or Dune. Shaddam, tired of the feuding between the two houses, permits the Atreides to take over the Spice production on Dune, while secretly working with the Harkonnens to launch a sneak attack on the Atreides and destroy them. The leader of the Atreides is Duke Leto (Jürgen Prochnow), who rules with the help of his concubine Jessica (Francesca Annis) and son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan). The rival Harkonnens are headed by the pus-oozing degenerate Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan, in a thoroughly through-the-roof performance) and his two unsavory nephews, Rabban (Paul L. Smith) and Feyd (Sting). When his father is murdered by the Harkonnens, Paul escapes to Dune, where he is greeted by the Fremen (the desert dwellers on Dune who prepare the Spice) as the messiah foretold in Fremen legend. Paul assumes the mantle of messiah and leads the Fremen in a revolt that topples the balance of power in the universe. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Dune
Most sci-fi movies offer escape, a holiday from homework, but Dune is as difficult as a final exam. You have to cram for it.
The problem is that the imagery isn't rooted in any story impulse, and so its power dissipates quickly.
Lynch's third feature may have been a commercial disaster, but it gets under your skin and is marked by unforgettable images and an extraordinary soundtrack.
This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.
Several of the characters in Dune are psychic, which puts them in the unique position of being able to understand what goes on in the movie.
Underrated, especially for devotees of the book. An impressively faithful if necessarily streamlined adaptation, though heavy on industrial-looking art direction and grotesque makeup effects.
An incoherent, strange, plotless, poorly structured mess that has to be seen to really be believed.
Critics at the time labeled it "confusing"; I don't see how, considering that you hear what everyone is thinking, all the time, and they repeat their key thoughts constantly so that their actual acting never has to do the job of telling the story.
There's not a shred of humor in it, and it's a bleak look at humanity's future. But I was swept into the fantastic world.
What we get, at best, are enthralling shots. At worst, most scenes seem out of a stilted chamber-drama, with backstory-burdened dialogue and stiff lines. A soporific languor often takes hold. Certain moments just come off as kitschy.
Misconceived, incomprehensible, and only decently executed, Dune is arguably Lynch's weakest film in an otherwise brilliant output.
It's not for everyone, but if you don't mind the brain-bending confusion of the plot and occasional feeling of '80s high camp, this isn't as bad as its detractors would have it.
Visually delightful but choppy, confusing, and overloaded with exposition.
Anyone looking for a satisfying and coherent science fiction epic will have to look elsewhere.
Now, in a far less Star Wars saturated landscape, Dune can be viewed as what it is: a brilliant mistake, misguided from the start but still aesthetically satisfying.
Lynch's most glaring failure.
If you think David Lynch is the Kwisatz Haderach, baby, have I got a movie for you.
Flashy special effects at the time still hold up decently today. Originally, the film was shown theatrically with a hand out that gives you definitions and background information. Before watching the film, it help if you brush up on the Hebert world by
Audience Reviews for Dune
The desert roaming tribe of mystics/warriors called the Fremen (free men?) longingly await the heavenly arrival of their messiah. In the meantime powerful and arrogant otherworldly forces battle for control of a drug that bestows second sight, singularly produced on the same desert planet by a rather huge indigenous life form.
The Jesus story then, made into sci-fi, Herbert's novels an veritable earthquake in that community, and wrestled with by David Lynch to bring to the screen. While stylistically vibrant, Lynch is brought low by the inability to transmit the unfolding wonder Herbert delivered: " ... a god walking amongst us!" that is the essence of the story, given by a multitude of intricacies. Lynch tries to follow the story, but only trips in those same intricacies, giving instead plodding pace and mysticism lost.
Ehhhhhh, its a decent sci-fi story. Its no eraserhead though and docent have the grittiness of blue velvet.More
A strategically vital mining planet is the subject of a power struggle between duelling Houses that form part of a planet spanning empire in the far future. David Lynch's ambitious stab at bringing Frank Herbert's complex series of novels to the silver screen was something of a heroic failure. Vilified at the time because of its wordy script and erratic fidelity to the source material, Dune is nowhere near as bad as many make it out to be. It has much to commend it; it includes a believable sense of galactic empire, some nice costume design and (for the most part at least) a strong cast all presented with a really nice otherworldly, dreamlike atmosphere. Unfortunately its flaws include poor sets, very dated special effects and some unbelievably hammy performances from the villains of the piece (unsurprisingly, Sting is particularly bad). Add to the fact that some pretty hefty plot points are skimmed over using montage and voice overs and you have a very mixed bag of successes and failures in bringing what (certainly at the time) was probably an unfilmable story. A brave, if flawed attempt that with the right creative team could be ripe for a remake.More
- Baron Vladimir Harkonnen:
- I want to spit, once, on your head.
- Duke Leto Atreides:
- The sleeper must awaken.
- Lady Jessica:
- A million deaths is not enough for Yueh.
- Usually, we have wormsigns the likes of which even God have never seen.
- Paul Atreides:
- I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
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