Dune (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

Dune (1984)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Rudolph Wurlitzer, Christopher De Vore, Eric Bergren, David Lynch, Rudolph Wurlitzer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 16, 1998
MCA Universal Home Video


Francesca Annis
as Lady Jessica
Leo Cimino
as The Baron's Doctor
Leonardo Cimino
as The Baron's Doctor
Brad Dourif
as Piter De Vries
Kyle MacLachlan
as Paul Atreides
Patrick Stewart
as Gurney Halleck
as Feyd Rautha
Dean Stockwell
as Dr. Wellington Yueh
Linda Hunt
as Shadout Mapes
Freddie Jones
as Thufir Hawat
Richard Jordan
as Duncan Idaho
Virginia Madsen
as Princess Irulan
José Ferrer
as Padishah Emperor Sha...
Silvana Mangano
as Reverend Mother Rama...
Kenneth McMillan
as Baron Vladimir Harko...
Sian Phillips
as Reverend Mother Gaiu...
Jürgen Prochnow
as Duke Leto Atreides
Paul L. Smith
as The Beast Rabban
Max von Sydow
as Dr. Kynes
Daniel Bryan Corkill
as Honorato Magalone
Danny Corkill
as Honorato Magalone
Judd Omen
as Molly Wyrn
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Dune

Critic Reviews for Dune

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (7)

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.

Full Review… | July 18, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The problem is that the imagery isn't rooted in any story impulse, and so its power dissipates quickly.

Full Review… | July 18, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Dune is a huge, hollow, imaginative and cold sci-fi epic.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

It's bad - as bad as they come - but also built to last, and as the years roll on, its fascinating qualities continue to grow.

Full Review… | December 15, 2014

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.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Ehhhhhh, its a decent sci-fi story. Its no eraserhead though and docent have the grittiness of blue velvet.

paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

Dune Quotes

– Submitted by Donald K (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Asri S (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Asri S (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Asri S (3 years ago)

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