- Movie Rating -

Dune (1984)

| December 14, 1984

Someone close to me informed me that there is no conceivable way that I can enjoy David Lynch’s Dune without having read Frank Herbert’s book.  Well, I quickly informed him, I have read Herbert’s book –  read it several times – and there’s still no conceivable way that I can enjoy this movie.

To anyone offering this kind of hapless argument, I say that your best bet is to skip over this movie and introduce yourself to Herbert’s work.  I first read it in the fourth grade, just young enough to concern adults that I was reading something that was over my head.  I loved it.  I still love it.  It filled my mind with the kind of imagery that only great science fiction can.  The movie stole 137 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back; that’s two hours in which I could have been, I dunno, doing my taxes or trimming my toenails.  It would have been more fun.

Dune is one of the ugliest, most incomprehensible and unpleasant piles of junk ever forged into a screenplay.  Having read the book several times I began to wonder if Lynch didn’t write this mess having heard the gist of the story told to him second-hand.  The movie has an ugly look to it.  When it isn’t purple and black, the screen is made an ugly yellowish brown.  You feel like reaching for some window cleaner.

The story starts off on absolutely the wrong note, trying to encapsulate the world in which we have entered but all but admitting that Lynch has no idea about the story he’s about to tell.  The complexities of Herbert’s novel come down to the story of a young royal (Kyle MacLachlan) who leads some sort of battle against an evil emperor in order to free the universe from its need for a substance called Spice.  Okay, those elements were in the book but it wasn’t the singular point.  There’s no universe-building here.  There’s no sense that we are in the distant future.  We are too distracted by sandworms that look like rejected Muppets.

Distractions are the only constant here.  A galaxy of familiar faces wander through this movie in elaborate costumes waiting to be given something to do.  Some enter the picture and then leave perhaps on their way to a different movie (lucky them).  The dialogue often sounds like it comes from Chapter 14 of a running serial; it makes no sense to us or, I’ll bet, the actors themselves.  And the whole production seems like it was never under anyone’s control.  Massive resources have gone into this production but very little has come out the other end.  I guess everyone was hoping for a miracle, that despite the production problems and all of the heartache that went into this that something might have emerged.  It hasn’t.  This is one of the most unpleasant experiences that I have ever had in a movie.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty