Arguably, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune is the most anticipated film to come out of the post-pandemic era… or at least, most anticipated by a certain publisher of a particular indie film news site that you’re reading right now. Having never read Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel nor seen any of the various iterations on film or television, I have been challenged to watch everything Dune prior to Villeneuve’s release.
Today, I bring you my thoughts and feelings about David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation of Dune. Mind you. I’m coming in cold here. As best I can tell, its world centers on “spice” or a heightened space-version of LSD. The spice is vital to space travel, and when ingested, it extends one’s life and expands one’s mind and consciousness.
“…centers on ‘spice’ or a heightened space-version of LSD.”
The universe is currently ruled by Emperor Shaddam (José Ferrer), who governs over the Spicing Guild made up of three houses: the Corrino, Atreides, and Harkonnens. This brings me to my first problem. There’s so much exposition, and it flies by quickly. One has to be laser-focused on every narration and word to follow the legend. I know I’m going to get facts wrong in just a moment.
The central conflict surrounds who controls the spice, which can only be found on the planet Arrakis (aka Dune). Because of its rarity, the planet’s mining operation is controlled by Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) and his son, Paul (Kyle MacLachlan). Mining the spice is dangerous because it is guarded by giant worms who travel quickly through the planet’s desert climate. There is also very little moisture (let alone water) that inhabitants must wear special suits that reclaim body moisture.
Fearing that Duke Leto will slow down the spice production, the Guild Navigator, a blob-like creature, conspires with Emperor Shaddam and the Harkonnens to murder Duke Leto and Paul. So here now is your Game of Thrones. Dune becomes a story of greed, class, nationalism, and to some degree, spirituality.
"…if you know anything about prophecies, they should be called movie spoilers..."