(out of 5)

Frank Herbert’s immensely popular science-fiction novel (the first in a series) has been turned into an unfortunate clunker of a film, helmed quite badly by David Lynch (he still refuses to talk about it). A rare sand-like substance is mined for use as a form of interplanetary travel but can only be found on one planet in the entire universe, Arrakis. On this planet, the ruling family of the Atreides have control of the spice, while the sinister Harkonnens fight to overtake the current rulers and become the most powerful family in the universe. At the heart of this conflict is young Paul Atreides (), who flees with his mother () into the desert and learns that he has rare powers and is destined to become a prophet to save the land. Classic quest mythology is combined with modern-day capitalist allegory in a story that reads beautifully on the page but is just plain dull on the screen. Lynch fills every scene with startling images: his take on science-fiction is very unlike anything else you’ve seen, but the writing is uneven and the film ends with a whimper. Reportedly it was originally to be much longer but the running time the studio wanted made it impossible for the auteur to come up with anything feasible. A definite shame, especially since the subsequent television mini-series made years later would do a better job of capturing the plot but wouldn’t be nearly up to the visual splendour of this one. A three-hour extended edition has been released on DVD (unreviewed at press time), edited against Lynch’s wishes and with his name removed.

USA, 1984

Directed by 

Screenplay by David Lynch, based on the novel by 

Cinematography by 

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , ,

Academy Award Nomination
Best Sound (Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Kevin O’Connell, Nelson Stoll)



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