Dune's is the last remaining online fandom that remains pure, writes Sean T. Collins. Spectacular yet sprawling, wondrous yet wooden, prophetic yet problematic, it has everything -- and the best memes, too.
Dune references signal shared knowledge to those in the know, and that’s about it. Dune fandom is an un-fandom.
Part of my edit of Lynch's film remains live on YouTube. It's Dune with all the dialogue taken out:
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David Lynch's Dune, though unsuccessful in theaters, has gained a more positive reputation over the years for its spectacular visuals and memorable one-liners. But Denis Villeneuve, directing a new movie of Frank Herbert's SF classic, says he'll be taking pains not to let it influence his own vision.
From an interview with Yahoo:
“David Lynch did an adaptation in the ’80s that has some very strong qualities, I mean David Lynch is one of the best filmmakers alive, I have massive respect for him. But when I saw his adaptation I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams. ...
“It will not have any link with the David Lynch movie,” added Villeneuve, who said he fell in love with the classic novel when he was a teen. “I’m going back to the book, and going to the images that came out when I read it.”
This is certainly for the best. Lynch's Dune would have been more thoroughly forgotten but for a series of unambiguously excellent 1990s video games which were fastidiously imitative of his vision. Movies have some power to fix how people see a book, but media derived from movies has an uncanny power to set it in stone, shunting the source material a degree of separation away. I think those games are a big part of why younger Gen-Xers and Millenials appreciate Lynch's Dune, which is a bad film.
The blind spots of the 1982 movie's staging also correspond to things from the book that are most relevant and interesting now. Read the rest
That science-fiction extravaganza Dune allegorizes contemporary themes of imperialism, economic addiction to oil, and religious war is obvious. But it turns out that Frank Herbert's masterpiece owes much to one book in particular: Lesley Blanch's brilliant, half-forgotten Sabres of Paradise, about the warlords of the Caucasus, where Europe and Asia meet.
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Anyone who has obsessed over the mythology of Dune will immediately recognize the language Herbert borrowed from Blanch’s work. Chakobsa, a Caucasian hunting language, becomes the language of a galactic diaspora in Herbert’s universe. Kanly, from a word for blood feud among the Islamic tribes of the Caucasus, signifies a vendetta between Dune’s great spacefaring dynasties. Kindjal, the personal weapon of the region’s Islamic warriors, becomes a knife favored by Herbert’s techno-aristocrats. As Blanch writes, “No Caucasian man was properly dressed without his kindjal.”
Herbert is ecumenical with his borrowing, lifting terminology and rituals from both sides of this obscure Central Asian conflict. When Paul Atreides, Dune’s youthful protagonist, is adopted by a desert tribe whose rituals and feuds bear a marked resemblance to the warrior culture of the Islamic Caucasus, he lives at the exotically named Sietch Tabr. Sietch and tabr are both words for camp borrowed from the Cossacks, the Czarist warrior caste who would become the great Christian antagonists of Shamyl’s Islamic holy warriors.
Herbert also lifted two of Dune’s most memorable lines directly from Blanch. While describing the Caucasians’ fondness for swordplay, Blanch writes, “To kill with the point lacked artistry.” In Dune, this becomes “[k]illing with the tip lacks artistry,” advice given to a young Paul Atreides by a loquacious weapons instructor.
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.
Bleeding Cool News:
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
A kitten interpretation of the Bene Gesserit Litany of Fear, from the David Lynch movie masterpiece “Dune,” based on the great Frank Herbert science fiction novel. Read the rest
Hayley Ashburn narrates this short but intense film on fear, overlaid on heart-stopping footage of her highlining on a line 2800 meters up, between Italy's snow-dusted Torri del Vajolet in winter, the first person ever to do so. Recognize the quote? 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!
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Sarah Sumeray's mum made these incredible hand-stitched scenes from Dune novels; Andy Baio adds that they're covers by legendary SF artist Bruce Pennington
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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.
Right now, Amazon has the Blu-Ray/DVD of Jodorowsky's Dune for just $(removed) Read the rest
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.
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A problem crops up when filmmakers try to adapt epic fantasy worlds to the big screen—particularly beloved, richly-imagined literary ones. Sacrifices must be made. Characters are cut, and plotlines are re-routed. Scenes and places don’t match what readers have pictured with their minds. Fans of the original book cry foul.
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