‘Dune’ Review: Walk Without Rhythm And We Won’t Attract The Worm

Posted in The Screening Room by - February 09, 2015

I love strange movies; I also love David Lynch. It should then logically follow that I would like his version of Dune, and I did more or less. I’d like to preface my review by reiterating that I am not familiar with the source material of Dune so I am not a good judge of how the movie stacks up to the book. With that in mind, this movie is one of the most over-the-top films I have ever experienced, and yes, Dune has to be experienced, not watched. 

Dune is set in the future and follows the exploits of Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) who is predestined for greatness. Paul is son of Duke Leto Atreides (Jurgen Prochnow) who the Emperor believes to be a threat to his control, and feels it necessary to rid himself of the threat. The Emperor devises a plan to rid himself of House Atreides by giving Leto control of the planet Arrakis, colloquially called Dune, and then having their long-time rivals, House Harkonnen, ambush them once they had taken control. The plan goes off perfectly with the Baron Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan) killing the Duke and taking control of Arrakis and it’s spice production capabilities. The spice Melange is what drives the universe, allowing for interstellar travel, extended life, and the expanding of one’s consciousness; it is also primarily produced on Arrakis.

The film has some interesting performances from the non-main cast members; some of them being extremely well-known actors. When I first saw Patrick Stewart show up on screen, I smirked since I’m such a huge fan of Star Trek. His role is pretty great, especially when he rocks a mullet towards the end of the film which gave me a good chuckle. Along with Stewart, Max Von Sydow and Brad Dourif are pretty entertaining as well. Von Sydow adds a certain level of gravitas to the film, while Dourif looks like a deranged Mozart in the film with huge frizzy hair and ridiculous eyebrows. The true what-the-fuck performance in the film is Sting, the lead singer of The Police, who plays the Baron Harkonnen’s nephew Feyd-Rautha. While he isn’t on screen much, his few scenes are memorable. He kills it, chewing up the scenery and sporting a blue metal codpiece in one scene that has to be seen to be believed.

While the plot of the film is at times unintelligible, the movie is expertly shot and stunningly beautiful. The set design is magnificent with each of the three worlds distinct in their own right. While Arrakis is barren and dry, populated with skyscraper-sized sandworms, Caladan is aristocratic and stately, leaving Geidi Prime as an industrial wasteland. Along with the sets, the costumes are memorable with the desert suits being the most impressive. They are reminiscent of the Alien’s body from Alien with black tubing and a breathing apparatus that fits into the nose. The way the film is shot is classic Lynch, focusing on close up shots of the characters along with long shots of the beautiful sets. It reinforces that Lynch is a master of his craft regardless of the subject matter.

My real issue with the film is that very little is explained. I found myself having to go between the film and research to understand fully what was going on. When I have to do large amounts of research just to understand certain characters or plot points, it illustrates lazy writing on the screenwriter’s part and it detracts from my full enjoyment of the film. From what I can tell the source material is quite deep and complex which doesn’t translate well to a single two hour feature film.

Dune is an interesting film that would not have been able to exist in modern cinema as it would be seen as too bizarre and strange for modern audiences. It features some well known actors along with some pretty crazy cameos which just adds further layers to the craziness of the movie. I’d love to see a remake of Dune done today with current actors but the same level of absurdity. But, what I would have loved to have seen is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, one of the most ambitious unmade films in history and subject of an excellent 2014 documentary, yet this Dune is crazy enough to suffice.

Final Say: Watch It

This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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