Second look at a 1980s cult classic



Even though the 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” was generally slammed by critics I am always swept off my feet when I watch it.

I am a complete “Dune” enthusiast.

David Lynch, the director, disowned the film after its release feeling he was never able to do the version of the film he had originally conceived.

When he was first given the job he did so under the auspices that it would be a three to four hour long film with intermission and that he would have final cut.

Sadly that never came to be, but even a truncated film from a maestro like lynch is fantastic

In the movie sucks you into the far future where the royal families of Artiedes and Harkonnens, battle for control the substance spice which in itself
controls deep space travel, leading to the films most often quoted line: “He who controls the spice, controls the universe.”

Sure you can compare a movie like “Dune” to all of the “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” sagas, and that would make sense.

The book “Dune” came first, before light sabers and phasers there was Herbert’s universe of giant sand worms and psychic witch ninjas.

Sadly the film never rose to the standards of those it influenced but “Dune” is still a great guilty pleasure.

There is just something so enthralling and amazing about saying, “Father the sleeper has awoken!” or “The spice is the worms the warms is the spice.”

Just like most of Lynch’s films, there always seems to be some absurd or perverse oddity that just reeks as a Lynch film: the grotesqueness of the Baron, the awesomely graphic death of 1980’s singer Sting or the poison capsule tooth.

The acting is definitely shoddy at the most but it’s amazingly hysterical to watch popular 1980s Sting come out of a steamy shower in what seems to be a
rubber thong.

Because the film is truncated from the original script, the plot is choppy at best and it took me at least two to three times to actually understand the story line but everyone knows that it’s really hard to turn a Frank Herbert’s epic monumental page sci-fi novel into a two-and-half hour movie.

If anything, the movie should have been at least an hour longer.

Even then, some major and minor details of the novel are going to get cut to make the movie more theater friendly and entertaining.

Though “Dune” was not a successful movie in the eyes of most critics, it was an ambitious film that I will always find entertaining as hell.


There’s such a thing as a good bad movie: A movie that’s ultimately a failure in one key area or another, be it acting, effects, story or coherence, but in the end I can’t look away.

There’s still an allure about those films and one of the most infamous of the ‘genre’ is David lynch’s 1984 adaptation of “Dune.”

Frank Herbert’s “Dune” published back in 1965 is the seminal work in science fiction storytelling. So much of the aesthetics of the genre, the language, the feel, the natural proclivity to social commentary, it all comes from this one book. If J.R.R. Tolkien set the standard for Fantasy, so did Herbert for Sci-Fi.

The story is an epic set 10 millennia in a future where computers are outlawed, the weapons are silver tongues and shadow politics and the entire universe revolves around spice; the chemical key to deep space travel.

The problem is that does not equal a great film, an absolutely fun train wreck for sure that should be experienced, but not a great film by any means.

Before Lynch even started shooting the film was doomed; with special effects too difficult and complex to pull off and a harsh desert shoot.

The real nail on the coffin though was when Lynch was told that his film would have to be two hours long, not the 3 hours he was originally promised.

With all that stacked against him and the general complexity of the story itself the end result is a mess of a narrative that’s only saved by some incredible production design, bizarre character acting and a killer soundtrack by TOTO.

In these post “Lord of the Rings” times, with cutting edge effects, a large running time and a director who clearly loves the material, I would love to see

“Dune” given the chance to be a great film if not series. It has the potential to be something truly special … but now I’ll settle with my fun guilty pleasure.