Considered by most to be unfilmable, frank Herbert’s “Dune” series of Sci Fi books languished unadapted until after the boom caused by “Star Wars” in 1977. It took maverick director David Lynch, previously best known for such offbeat films as “Eraserhead” and “The Elephant Man” to tackle the project and while visually triumphant, Lynch was never happy with the end product, claiming that he would have preferred it to have a running time of seventeen hours.
It’s all about Spice. Spice and rebellion. And religion. Actually, it’s about lots of things and can be a little hard to follow but concentration will; be rewarded by a rich tapestry of characters and locations, all of them imaginary yet very believable on screen, both in concept and presentation. It’s about the journey of one young man, Paul Atredies to find his destiny leading a revolutionary movement against the powers that control their planet Arrakis, a journey that eventually leads to Godhood. Oh, and there are some great giant worms in it as well!
This was Kyle MacLachlan’s break out role, he would later star in the Lynch directed “Twin Peaks” and he makes an impressive debut as Paul Atredies, especially as he is pitted against such powerful character actors as Sian Phillips, Patrick Stewart and Francesca Annis. Sting also makes an appearance and while hardly in the league of those mentioned above, he is well cast in the role of Feyd, a sadistic spoiled brat of a man, bringing the required edge to the role.
The design and direction are simply fantastic, Lynch taking every opportunity to show off the budget he has at his disposal and bringing together a very talented team to create surprisingly realistic depictions of alien worlds and cultures. The richness of the detail in Herbert’s world can only be touched upon but the careful design work gives each major location or species a sense of its own culture, a clever shorthand. It’s not the most accessible Sci Fi ever made but it’s a great film and well worth a viewing with some stunning visuals and a number of surprises along the way. Full of imagination!
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Francesca Annis