David Lynch's unfinished script for Dune 2 unearthed

David Lynch's 1984 movie Dune was spectacular but not well-received, and its slack box office didn't justify the planned sequels. But Lynch began script work for Dune 2 (with elements of Frank Herbert's novels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune), and Max Every reports that he's found a copy it.

During the two years I spent putting together my book A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch's Dune—An Oral History, I had no luck uncovering Lynch's script for Dune II, despite Frank Herbert telling Prevue magazine in December 1984 that he possessed a copy and was advising Lynch on it. "Now that we speak the same 'language,' it's much easier for both of us to make progress, especially with the screenplays," Herbert told the publication. Then, in July 2023, within the Frank Herbert archives at California State University, Fullerton, I came across a slim folder with a sticky note declaring "Dune Messiah script revisions," addressed to the second floor of VFX man Barry Nolan's office in Burbank where Lynch supervised the final effects shoots and editing on Dune.

The great thing, now as then, was how much Frank Herbert was into Lynch Dune. He was collaborating with him on the Dune 2 script!

Is it too soon to suggest that while Villeneuve Dune is objectively a much better movie, it is also cold and abstract and Lynch did great at capturing the sense that everyone in Dune is a deranged anxiety-driven superhuman weirdo and that them monologuing at one another (and at themselves) was fun? Dune (2021) has an interminable scene of Paul struggling to fly an ornithopter in a storm. The best Dune loonies—Yueh, DeVries, Halleck, all barely present in the hours-long film—could have got those five minutes.

Let us rotoscope Lynch Dune (with its rumored myriad of deleted scenes) and bring the cast back, as far as possible, to do more—their age now hardly matters since we're talking about an epic 10-hour animated TV show. And look! We have 56 pages of a script! Lynch, sadly, still wants nothing to do with it. Sounds like working on Dune '84 got very unpleasant at the end.