David Lynch’s Dune: Some Thoughts
I finally rewatched David Lynch’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune yesterday. It has been years since I first watched it, and I am glad I got a chance to give it a second look. On the whole, I like the movie despite its many flaws. Personally, I prefer the SciFi miniseries of Dune, but that is a post for another day.
To be honest, any third remake of Dune should either be in two parts (if a film) or a television miniseries. Dune is a sprawling, epic story. It needs room to breath. The biggest flaw of Lynch’s movie, to me, is that the second and third acts are terribly condensed in favor of a long first act. This leads to a loss of dramatic action in the later parts of the film.
Another flaw is, I think, the depiction of House Harkonnen as a bunch of raving lunatics. Years ago, I did a practice research paper questioning whether the Harkonnen are as terrible as they are depicted. Certainly, the Harkonnen are tyrants. Where the Atreides coerce action through loyalty, friendship, and a willingness for self sacrifice, the Harkonnen coerce loyalty through violence, intimidation, and bribery. The Harkonnen court is one of decadence, death, and destruction.
But Vladimir Harkonnen is not insane, he is not a raving lunatic. He is a calm, manipulative figure who wants the control of the empire. He is sinister, not a cartoon.
Now, my favorite parts of the movie are the story telling technique and the over all visual style.
I enjoy the way Lynch tells the story. The asides and interior monologues give the impression not so much of a straight of movie, but a filmed play. There is an operatic element to the work that may put most movie goes off, but which I find extremely fascinating.
Visually, the film is gorgeous (save for those ridiculous costumes the Harkonnens wear). The uniforms and various costumes are lovely. The landscapes are visually arresting. And the ship designs zre great. Not to mention the general look of the Navigators and the Bene Gesserit.
Seriously, the folding space sequence is amazing!
Overall, is Dune directed by David Lynch an ideal adaptation of Herbert’s masterpiece? Honestly, no. But it works regardless. It is a movie I enjoy watching whenever I get the chance.