Friday, December 12, 2008


I first read Dune I think when I was still in high school. I know that it was prior to 9/11/2001 because I had never heard the work jihad before and I had to look it up in the books glossary. Dune to me is one of the most compelling science fiction stories I’ve ever read, and I also think it has to be one of the hardest series to translate to film. I’ve seen the Sci-fi channels miniseries version but had never seen the David Lynch version. Netflix to the rescue.

I don’t know if everyone in my generation is familiar with Dune. The story takes place in an empire of planets probably not even in our reality. Young Paul Atreides is the son of Duke Atreides and Jessica a Bene Gesserit witch who was ordered to produce only daughters to the Duke. Paul is a gifted young man and is feared by the Bene Gesserit Revrend Mother because she fears he is the long prophesied Kwisatz Haderach (messiah) and that she will not be able to control him. Duke Atreides is sent by the emperor to Arakis (aka Dune) a desert planet to take control from his ancient rivals the house Harkonnen. Though Duke Atreides smells a trap brewing he cannot refuse the emperor and takes the position only to be ambused & killed by the Harkonnen’s and Jessica and Paul flee into the dead desert to discover the fremen the indigenous people and Paul plots revenge on the Harkonnen’s.

David Lynch’s version of Dune is not amazing; if you haven’t read the book I think you would be deeply confused by the film. In fact, I read the book and I couldn’t understand some of the choices that Lynch made – but it is very much a David Lynch science fiction film. Do you really think that the man that made Blue Velvet could make a normal movie?

The single most bizarre thing in this movie for me was seeing Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck. Gurney is an ass kicking, tough as nails man in the Duke’s employ and he is forever embedded in my consciousness as Capt. John Luc Picard. Very different mental pictures. Plus he had a mullet.

I do think this movie screams for a remake. So far the Sci-fi miniseries is the best representation out there but I know that not many people want to sit through an entire miniseries. However, I do wonder if a “shortened” version of the story can make any sense. If you’re not sure what I mean read the first book.

Director & Writer: David Lynch
Lady Jessica: Francesca Annis
Piter De Vries: Brad Dourif
Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV: Jose Ferrer
Shadout Mapes: Linda Hunt
Duncan Idaho: Richard Jordan
Paul Atreides: Kyle McLachlan
Princess Irulan: Virginia Madsen
Baron Harkonnen: Kenneth McMillan
Duke Atreides: Jurgen Prochow
Gurney Halleck: Patrick Stewart
Dr. Kynes: Max von Sydow
Alia: Alicia Witt
Chani: Sean Young

Princess Irulan: A beginning is a very delicate time. Know then, that is the year 10191. The known universe is ruled by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam the Fourth, my father. In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is the spice Melange. The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness. The spice is vital to space travel. The Spacing Guild and its navigators, who the spice has mutated over 4000 years, use the orange spice gas, which gives them the ability to fold space. That is, travel to any part of the universe without moving. Oh, yes. I forgot to tell you. The spice exists on only one planet in the entire universe. A desolate, dry planet with vast deserts. Hidden away within the rocks of these deserts are a people known as the Fremen, who have long held a prophecy that a man would come, a messiah, who would lead them to true freedom. The planet is Arrakis, also known as Dune.

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