Frank Herbert:
Lynch Movie Review

The David Lynch movie version of Dune came out in 1984. This was the first time that the very famous Dune series by Frank Herbert had been adapted for screen, and legions of fans waited eagerly to see how it would work out. Many were thrilled, many were disappointed. It's only really now, with a 6 hour miniseries out on the same subject, that many people are viewing this movie attempt fairly.

First, the movie was only 2 hours and 17 minutes long. That's an incredibly short period of time for such a long, complex book. Even the six hour miniseries had to leave key scenes out and combine characters together. So any complaints about missing scenes or favorite characters has to take that into account.

Kyle MacLachlan is Paul Atreides, and Jurgen Prochnow (one of my *favorite* actors) is his father, Duke Leto. Some criticize the two for being non-emotional. If you read the series, however, you'll find that this is true to form. Neither of these men were ones to show how they felt. They were raised in the rough world of hard-core politics and daily death threats. The story of Dune is about Duke Leto's hardest time of a hard life - being forced to move to a planet he hates, to put his beloved wife and son directly into danger. Paul's life isn't much better. If anything, I give HUGE credit to the scriptwriters for keeping Paul intelligent and mature throughout the movie, just as he was in the book. The miniseries turns Paul into a sniveling, whiny brat and this drove me CRAZY. That was NOT Paul.

The backup actors are fantastic. You have Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Dean Stockwell, Sean Young, Linda Hunt, Jose Ferrer, and many others. They do a great job of trying to get a character across in the short time they have to do it in. For a more in depth review of each character, photos of what they look like in the Lynch version and how they contrast to the book, check out the In-Depth Character Descriptions and Photos.

The visual style is very engaging. Their stillsuits look like STILLSUITS quite unlike the miniseries turning them into beachwear. The rich Gothic architecture really gives a sense that this culture has existed for thousands of years and has been taking advantage of the power it had.

At least one reviewer has said *incorrectly* that the DVD has scenes cut. In fact, the DVD is the exact same version as the theatrical release. There was a *TV* release that was severely cut to fit into TV-time, and Lynch hated that version so much he refused to allow his name to be put on it.

I admit that I used to be a critic of this movie. But seeing what others did to the content of this amazing book even with much more time to work with, I have to now admit that Lynch squashed an amazing amount of quality into his just-over-two-hours. I would recommend that anyone who finds the concept of Dune even slightly interesting to definitely READ THE BOOK and then watch the movie with that background in mind.

In general the movie did an amazing job of keeping the exact same scenes, lines for each character, meaning BEHIND each character, and let you get to know each one. Here are my quick comments about issues I did find:

They left out Fenring who really was the Arrakis ruler before the Atreides. They say they are "replacing Harkonnens on Arrakis ... Baron Harkonnen will *return* to Arrakis." Minor detail.

The key issue many have is with the "weirding modules". Yes, the main force that Jessica and Paul train the Fremen with (and the whole reason they let Jessica live) is her "weirding battle ways" - i.e. her BG powers. But she doesn't teach them how to use the "voice" which is her most awesome power. She teaches them in essence unarmed combat. And she needs no "module" to use her voice.

They tossed in a new quote to show Paul must become stronger - "The Sleeper Must Awaken". In fact this isn't in the book. Leto tells Paul he must use whatever means he can to survive on Arrakis, talking about desert power and later even saying that maybe Paul could make use of the religious legends.

The Harkonnens were ruthless and hated the Atreides. But they were also smart and would never waste something of value. The pus-faced, manical delight for pain and heartplugs were all inventions and sort of diminished the conflict. It wasn't "pure good vs pure evil". It was "popular Duke vs backstabbing Baron who jealously wanted to bring him down." A prime example is Thufir. He was treasured in the book, treated well and not told about the poison. In the movie they beat him up and gloat about the poison in front of him.

The name comes in the book from the mouse he sees. In the movie it's now a mouse-shadow on the second moon.

They do an excellent job with water-usage and water-concerns. And there is a lot of detail in every scene - from the incredible sets to the fact that Jamis' wife and 2 kids are in many scenes.

In the book it's a slow, cautious rebellion. In the movie he starts right into "We will destroy all spice production in Arrakis" and "He who can destroy a thing controls a thing", trying to draw the Emperor down to him.

The Water of Life thing was a bit bizarre. I don't mind Chani helping, I think it natural that he would ask her. But the BG-bleeding was a bit much.

The Sardaukar were elite fighting troops, treated like kings back home, who fought as well as any 10 men, were self-assured and loyal. In the movie they looked like radiation-suit faceless drones.

Good touch with Alia (Properly) killing the Baron and then going out to kill the wounded.

Paul boldly challenges Feyd. In the book, it's Gurney who wants to kill "the Harkonnen", and when Paul brings this up, Feyd starts yelling Kanly.

The other worst part (with the modules) - the fact that it rains at the end, and that nothing is said about Irulan marrying him. This should be shown explicitly at the end of the book, that he is now married to the Corrino family.

Buy the Lynch Dune Movie
Buy Dune - the book - from Amazon.com

The World of Dune