David Lynch's 1982 Dune wasn't well-received at the time, but over the years has become a cult classic—perhaps even a good film. With a few nods to the lavish sets and striking set-pieces, Emily Asher-Perrin takes a weirding module to the latter claim: David Lynch’s Dune is What You Get When You Build a Science Fictional World With No Interest in Science Fiction.
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Any attempt at cohesion on a more granular level, which is where worldbuilding is most essential in science fiction, is shrugged off in favor of another inexplicable style choice that brings a bit of form and zero function. With the exceptions of military collars and crests, there is nothing that communicates how these things and people connect—some have tried to christen it “noir-baroque” which is a cute thought, but it’s hard to believe that any detailed reasons for the aesthetics were considered beyond “this looks cool.”
Dune wants to be phantasmagorical and it wants to be offensive to your senses, and those things can work in cinema, as Lynch’s career communicates incredibly well. But this film does not carry off that off-kilter creepiness as anything more than a parlor trick. It fails to be authentic because these cues are not entrenched in the universe projected on screen. They are there to shock the viewer, to disgust them, but they don’t mean anything. The Guild member floating in its chamber of gas is strange and otherworldly and grotesque, but communicates nothing besides that. It is not integrated into its setting, its surroundings.
Hot off filming Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life to great acclaim and Blade Runner II, Denis Villeneuve is tackling the great white whale of screen science-fiction: Dune. Brian Herbert, son of author Frank Herbert, tweeted the news last night.
It's official -- Legendary Pictures has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project.— Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) February 1, 2017
Back in late November, we’d reported on Legendary having secured the rights to the Dune series of novels from the Frank Herbert estate. The deal gives Legendary the option for both film and television rights worldwide. Brian’s tweet implies that Villeneuve will be attached to the film project, and we’ll keep an eye out for any news on around the TV front. It seems that studios are looking to go wider than a single format lately, with Lionsgate developing the Kingkiller Chronicles simultaneously for both TV and Film.
Dune was filmed twice, once as a stunning but mangled David Lynch epic and later as a low-budget TV miniseries. Fans have been eager for years to see the 1965 classic in theaters again, but various projects over the years have failed to enter production.
The story's complexity sank the 1982 version, but its incredible production design made it a cult favorite. Star Kyle McLachlan explains the plot succinctly in a tweet:
For once I insist this single novel be turned into a screen trilogy. Read the rest
The movie Dune was spectacular but incomprehensible: a boiling-down of a huge science fiction epic into a couple of hours of action. Star Kyle McLachlan, however, can fit the whole thing into a tweet, using only emoji. The Tweeter must awaken!Read the rest
I loved this documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky's quixotic quest to make a movie based on Frank Herbert's Dune in the mid-70s. In this 2014 film, we get to see and hear Jodorowsky, an energetic and charismatic octogenarian, describe with great passion his dream to combine the talents of Moebius, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Pink Floyd, H.R. Giger and top special effects artists to produce what has been called "The Greatest Movie Never Made." There's one scene in the film where Jodorowsky is describing a trippy space flight scene, accompanied by Moebius' stunning storyboards, which momentarily lets you see the mind-blowing awesomeness of a movie that exists only in the mind of Jodorowsky.
It's the work of Michael Warren, who gathered every scene from every extant edition and reorganized the resulting spice opera into a more complete narrative. He also removed a few seconds, too, to fix a continuity error.
Contrary to legend, it's apparently not the case that a legendary 4 hour "working" cut of David Lynch's original is out there waiting to be found. So this—which includes the expository picturebook used to help TV viewers figure out what the hell is going on—is likely the longest we'll ever see. [via Digg]
Previously: Dune Without Words.
In the case of director Alejandro Jodorowsky, his vision for Frank Herbert’s masterwork Dune was so over the top, so surreal (and, at times, so absurd), it probably would have blown the minds of critics before they had a chance to grumble.
That is, if Jodorowsky’s translation and transmogrification of Dune had ever been made. It never was.
Ron Miller posts a gallery of stunning, if rather small images at io9: "In the beginning there were sketches...thousands of sketches. Almost all of these were done by the brilliant production designer Tony Masters. ... These were eventually incorporated into the production paintings I created.." Read the rest
Omni Reboot offers a gallery of sandworms, fremen and the deserts of Arrakis as painted by John Schoenher, who was described by author Frank Herbert as “the only artist who has ever visited Dune.” [Omni Reboot] Read the rest
At The New Yorker, Jon Michaud looks at why Frank Herbert's space opera, Dune, endures despite failing to ender the public consciousness the way Lord of the Rings and Star Wars have.
There are no “Dune” conventions. Catchphrases from the book have not entered the language. Nevertheless ... With daily reminders of the intensifying effects of global warming, the spectre of a worldwide water shortage, and continued political upheaval in the oil-rich Middle East, it is possible that “Dune” is even more relevant now than when it was first published. If you haven’t read it lately, it’s worth a return visit. If you’ve never read it, you should find time to.
A good article, which points out how the first novel's brilliance has been obscured by a distinctly second-rate franchise. A more salient reason Dune didn't penetrate massivedom, though, is simply that the movie wasn't good enough and it bombed. To seal the pop culture deal—and popular culture isn't quite the same thing as mere success or awareness—the screen is all-important. It's the moment of translation, the emergence of a story from the cocoon of literature to the glare of popular culture in all its splendor and squalor. A brilliantly-imagined but confused movie by David Lynch made Dune too weird, and a SyFy TV series made it too cheap. This puts it where Lord of the Rings was before Peter Jackson: pregnant with cinematic possibility, but misshapen by prior efforts.
But hey, it could be worse! You could be into Earthsea, which has had two movies made of it, each terrible in entirely different ways except one: both replaced the protagonist of color with a white dude. Read the rest