After reading the book, I felt really curious about the movie, as I thought that it was going to be hard to adapt… well, here’s my opinion on the extended edition of the film.
Original title: Dune. Spanish title: Dune. Year: 1984. Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure. Country: United States of America (USA). Language: English. Runtime: 180 min. Color or B/W: Color. Director: David Lynch. Script: David Lynch, based on he novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Photography: Freddie Francis. Music: Toto. Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Dean Stockwell, Kenneth McMillan, José Ferrer.
Plot outline Duke Leto Atreides, head of the Great House Atreides, and natural from Caladan, a paradisiac planet, has been chosen by the Emperor Shaddam IV to rule Arrakis, a desert planet (Dune is its colloquial name) that is the only source of a spice called melange, the most valuable substance in universe. To that planet he will move with his family, friends, army and servants, always aware of possible threats made by the Harkonnens, a Great House rival of the Atreides.
Comment without spoilers This movie can be clearly split into 3 parts, differentiated either by the representation techniques or by the way the story is developed. And it has some deviations from the book, some of which I’ll discuss at the end of the post, in the spoilers part.
The first part is a 10-minutes introduction in which a voice, narrating over still painted pictures, describes the historical and political background of the Dune universe. This smart move really leads to a better understanding of the movie, as you are properly set into the background from the very beginning.
The second part comprehends more or less the first half of the movie, focusing properly in most of the events that appear in the part of the book that covers the same story. The work of Lynch here, despite not being outstanding, is quite correct and easy to follow for everybody. Also, the presence of the thoughts of the main characters, both in this and the next part, is really helpful.
However, in the third part everything happens too fast, looking more like a chain of 2-minutes scenes showing the highlights of the book and barely connected between them. Probably, they did it like this so the movie wouldn’t be too long (this cut is almost 3 hours), but the truth is that this part is very hard to follow unless you’ve previously read the book.
The cast of the movie is amazing, with plenty of experienced (and famous) actors who do a quite good job. Ironically, the worst acting here is the one of Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, the main character, as he is mostly expressionless and dull.
The soundtrack composed by Toto is another aspect that, despite not being outstanding, is fairly correct. The moments in which is worst is in some action scenes, when the music tries to be epic, but in a very 80’s way, that is, mixing garish synthesizer with electric guitars.
The special effects are generally decent, but some, like the personal shields, are simply hilarious, even for a movie from 1984. And one detail I disliked a lot is that the Fremen don’t always have the blue eyes… only sometimes, and it’s not due to the script, just to the special effects.
The general atmosphere is quite good, and a lot of details have been looked for. The aesthetic of the film is great (if don’t take into account the shaved Reverend Mothers and the eyebrows of the Mentats), and I particularly love the industrial environment of Giedi Prime. The clothing is, in my opinion, one the best points of the movie.
My conclusion is that if you’ve read the novel, it can be interesting to see the highlights of the book rendered with real people; but if you don’t, it’s better if you don’t give it a try, as it can be really confusing.
The next step, watching Frank Herbert’s Dune TV miniseries.
Aside from events that has been omitted or simplified due to the length of the movie (as it happens to almost every movie inspired in a book), probably the most disappointing part is the change of the Weirding Way for the seedy Weirding Modules, that is, the voice-triggered weapons, which are simply ridiculous.
Also, the “fight” between Stilgar and Lady Jessica, as well as the one between Jamis and Paul are baffling… in fact I still don’t know why they were filmed that way.
End of SPOILERS
mrithail.com: Dune (Novel).
mrithail.com: Dune Extended Edition (Film).
mrithail.com: Frank Herbert’s Dune (Miniseries).