Dune (Lynch, 1984)

I don’t know what to say about this film. I didn’t quite understand it, I drifted in and out of consciousness as I watched this mess of a film. Worm riding… strange voice overs, evil witch-children. It was almost funny.

Is it a surreal masterwork? Or just trash? Where does it rank in the Lynch filmography?

These are questions I ask.

9 responses to “Dune (Lynch, 1984)

  1. the answer to your question: trash. Dune is…so, so awful 😆 And the book’s no prize either. It had a confusing-as-hell, unfilmable plot to begin with, but for Lynch to try to adapt it with those stupid voiceovers (most of ’em just Kyle MacLachlan whispering some quasi-philosophical nonsense 😕 ) was just the beginning of a terrible movie. At least even Lynch recognizes what a disaster it was and has disowned it 🙂

    It is fun, though, to see so many future cast members of Twin Peaks play silly parts in this 😆

  2. Well, I’ve had a long relationship with this one. In the Lynch canon it can hardly be accorded some kind of prize status, not least because, besides being an adaptation and all, it’s miles away from representing some kind of “director’s cut”; apparently Lynch is too pained by the whole experience to even be willing to cobble such a thing together, should stock and opportunity make it possible.
    Too, Robin Wood (the greatest film critic ever) has called it ‘the most homophobic movie ever made’– or was that Blue Velvet?– anyway, he hates it. Plus my younger brother once took it to school during some kind of “watch a movie/nap” time during, like, 1st grade, which profoundly disturbs me– the teacher EVENTUALLY had the sense to turn it off, but how soon?!?
    And yet– it’s a clearly Lynchian vision; Freddie Young’s cinematography is at the Storarro-level of texture; the sound design is enthralling; and in some respects it’s awesomely visionary– the only time we’re ever likely to see David Lynch playing on the David Lean scale. I’d give it a wide-awake viewing before you dismiss it entirely. It’s deliciously dank, creepy, and an oddly fervent kind of epic sci-fi poem. The Herbert novels are very different, but also worth a try– a kind of synthesis of Bergsonian-Jungian process philosophy with a lot of other philosophical, political, and ecological speculations thrown in. I still hope to finish them someday.

  3. I promised a friend I’d give it a rewatch, but only if we watched it together which might be a while, so I’m not giving up hope entirely.

    It is true, the film is certainly Lynchian and fits well into his work. Unlike some director’s venture into epic or mainstream (Kubrick’s Spartacus for example), it still feels distinctly Lynchian in spirit, design and mood. As said, I’m not entirely sure what it is about the film that doesn’t work, I argued somewhere else that it’s dream-like progression doesn’t connect simply because it is so far connected from my own dream-world. For a film to operate by that kind of melodious pacing and energy of dreams, for me, it has to have more attachment to my own world, and feel as though it were born from the subconscious. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, and too close-minded in this case, I’m going to give it another chance sometime that’s for sure.

  4. You put that beautifully with “melodious pacing and energy of dreams”– it’d be interesting to make up a sort of ‘subjective canon’, if you will, of films that work on that line in (as you say) ‘attachment to your own world’.

    I think the DP I’m thinking of is Freddie Francis, btw, not Freddie Young (the Lean cinematographer). His “The Elephant Man”/”Dune” collaborations with Lynch are one of those two-off cinematographer/director collaborations that (like Zsigmond with Cimino on Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate) work monumentally well. Certainly in the purely pictorial sense I think “Dune” is masterful– though the film is not, admittedly, entirely canonical!

  5. A list of dream-like films, I could probably do. Dune wouldn’t be on the list, but at least one Lynch would. He has a knack for that unconscious/subconscious energy.

    I still haven’t seen The Elephant Man, and looking him up, I’ve only seen his work on the Innocents. However, one of the film’s strengths is it’s strange and very subjective cinematography.

  6. A piece of junk that costed 47 million dollars and taught Lynch never to do hollywood blockbusters again, a horrible adaptation of a great book done by a director who doesn’t know or care about the material.

    Glad he disowned this worthless piece of crap that he hates so much, it’s definitely a stinker like Heaven’s Gate.

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