Dune  (1984)

Just to be clear - I love David Lynch. I rarely have any idea what his movies are about, but I enjoy the hell out of them. The thing is, Lynch works when everything is just sort of looked at like it's a dream. Things are eerie, surreal, insane, non sequitur, just weird. When Lynch has to follow a story written by someone else, the surreal quality is detrimental.

In the year 10191, the most valuable substance in the universe is a spice called melange. It extends life, expands consciousness, and allows users to "fold space". Two families are engaged in a battle over Arrakis, the only planet where melange can be found. Mining the spice is dangerous because the planet is plagued by sandworms, massive creatures who can destroy entire mining facilities.

I've never read the "Dune" novel by Frank Herbert, but I know it's long and dense, and was difficult to adapt into a movie. The result was a whole bunch of stuff that didn't really make sense, characters that come out of nowhere that feel like we should've had more backstory for, jumps in time that felt like should've taken longer, and just a general disjointed feel.

The best part of the movie is the look - it's one hundred percent David Lynch's vision of science fiction. The costumes are fantastic, the acting is melodramatic, one of the characters can float for a reason that I either missed or was just omitted entirely, there's a weird floating brain monster, Sting plays a crazy killer and famously appears in a weird space-speedo. The sandworms are great examples of practical effects, and even if they look dated compared to CGI, it fits the aesthetic. I'm down with all of this, but still found myself repeatedly saying "What the hell is going on?" and not in a typical Lynch-ian way; here I was really confused but felt like it should have made sense.

I understand how Dune was a flop at the box office but became a cult classic. It fits the mold of a midnight movie, or something you tell your friends "man, you gotta watch this craziness". In Lynch's filmography, it's not my least favorite work, but definitely suffers from being Lynch's interpretation of someone else's story rather than just his own subconscious being set upon the world.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Dune" a 6 out of 10.




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