Monday, March 01, 2004

David Lynch's Dune, Surprisingly Good

Here's a review of David Lynch's Dune, originally posted to

I watched Dune yesterday, the only DL movie I hadn't seen yet. I don't know why I hadn't watched it, obviously being a huge Lynch fan, and also being a big fan of epic sci-fi. Just a note, I started the first book, but didn't really like it, and never made it all the way through. I think this may actually be the optimum condition for viewing the film, since I knew the basic characters, and setup, but wasn't attached the plot events. However, the reputation of the film led to a general apathy towards watching it. However, I watched it yesterday, and am really glad I did.

First off, I was shocked by how surreal the film was. The whispered thoughts device was Lynch's best move in making the film, since it cut down on massive exposition scenes, as well as giving us a good insight into the characters. It's something I've seen in some French New Wave films, but other than that, it's generally unused, but it's something that works really well if used right, as it was here.

And, for a mainstream film, the surreality of the whole thing was quite surprising. I expected it to be like The Elephant Man, in that you get occasional flashes of Lynch, but it's mainly a fairly straightforward film, but that wasn't the case here. There was a lot of strange stuff, and I saw
the roots of a number of Lynch ideas, seen in later films. The opening with Princess Irulan appearing against the background of the stars was phenomenal. The hand and dripping water dreams were very cool looking, and the repetition of the motif was very effective. The first scene with the baron was really nasty, and also quite cool.

I liked the whole 80's aesthetic of the film. It felt quite a bit like Blade Runner at times (Sean Young's voice probably did that), and I love that feeling of real sets, that you just don't get in current CG sci-fi movies. The spaceship effects may not have been the best, but I take it as a
stylistic choice, which makes for an even more surreal film. It was a visually dazzling film. Those hazmat uniforms on the enemy soldiers were amazing.

While it did feel like there were a lot of loose ends, the film held together. Rather than thinking of the plots that felt abrupt as problems, I see them as just snapshots of the world. I loved the ending with the rain, and Paul's sister.

Obviously, a lot of stuff didn't work. The Baron was awful, his cackling villainy was really inexcusable. And, I got the feeling that all the scenes with him were the same, he'd fly around, laugh awfully, and say he was going to kill Paul. And, since there were so many characters, you never really get attached to anyone, even Paul.

Stuff like the relationship with Channi was barely even developed, and I'd like to have seen a bit more of the Sting character (not in the bodily sense, that winged speedo was quite enough), but he was a much better villain than the Baron, and wasn't really featured. And also, considering
she was barely in the movie, I'm not sure why the Princess gave the opening narration.

I think David should really re-assess the film, since it's a great piece of work, and deserves a much better reputation than it has. So, after this, here's my ranking of Lynch's stuff.

Twin Peaks (Show)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Mulholland Drive
Lost Highway
Blue Velvet
The Straight Story
The Elephant Man
Wild at Heart

Related Posts
The Three Phases of David Lynch: Phase I (12/13/2004)
The Three Phases of David Lynch: Phase II: Part I (12/14/2004)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (7/26/2005)