Movie Review 2007 #53: Dune

The original theatrical cut of the David Lynch adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel.


I thought I had seen this years ago. I was wrong.
What I had seen and remembered from TV was the “extended edition” that was disavowed by David Lynch and added a lot of stuff, some of it out of order, and vastly increasing the length of the opening narration, starting the movie with a lack of momentum.
This is the original theatrical version of the movie, and when I sat down to watch it to find that it wasn’t what I thought, I was surprised. Sure, it misses a lot of things and skips many things that the 2000 Miniseries covers in more detail. And, darn it, it takes too long to get TO Dune, too much of the movie is set on Caladan and the trip to Dune.
Still, this movie, at least, has the Fremen armed with better weapons than the miniseries, where, as far as I could tell, the advanced Atreides weapons are dropped as a plotline completely and the Fremen attack with just hand weapons.
And this movie does have some decent acting talent, from Patrick Stewart to Sian Phillips. And Virginia Madsen could read a cereal box and make it sound compelling.
Still, the movie is too short by far to give the book any justice, and I suspect the less you know about the complex, rich tapestry of the book, the better off you will be with the story of Paul Muad’dib Atreides in the movie Dune.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review 2007 #53: Dune”

  1. Still, this movie, at least, has the Fremen armed with better weapons than the miniseries, where, as far as I could tell, the advanced Atreides weapons are dropped as a plotline completely and the Fremen attack with just hand weapons…..
    The film makes departures from the novel, most notably in the case of the Weirding Way, which in the novel is a super-martial art form that allows Paul Atreides to move with lightning speed (and is properly termed “prana-bindu training”). In the film it is replaced with “Weirding Modules,” sonic weapons that resemble small video cameras and amplify the user’s voice into a destructive force. At the time of release, this was controversial among Dune fans. Reportedly, the original technique was left out because it was thought that a pitched combat of Fremen fighting Sardaukar while using the book’s Weirding Way would resemble an unsophisticated kung-fu film; additionally, the Weirding Modules provided an opportunity for the use of special effects. This change literalized a moment in the novel in which Paul says his name had become a death-prayer, as the Fremen shout “Muad’dib!” before killing an opponent. In the film, the Fremen actually destroy their enemies by shouting his name, leading Paul to make the remark “my name is a killing word.”
    Still I didn’t like the 2000 mini-series, what little I saw of it. And of the 4 different versions of the 84 movie I liked the Extended “Channel 2 KTVU” version best.

  2. I seem to be in a minority amongst people I know as regards the miniseries versus the movies.
    Although, after seeing Kung Fu Hustle, I think audiences today might be more receptive to superlative martial arts.
    The miniseries does have the Weirding Way as per the book, but didn’t explore the full potential of teaching the Fremen the ability.

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