Saturday, March 6, 2010


Written by Alan Trehern while traveling, but not moving...

I love science fiction, but you probably knew that. I love that the genre can create bizarre and complex characters, new worlds, new galaxies, new species, new technology, strange love affairs, etc. etc. while still staying true to the values, themes and ideas that people of Earth are familiar with. Good science fiction is not only relatable, but also somewhat possible. Whether it be 100 years in the future, or 1000 years…

Dune (1984)
Directed by David Lynch
Starring Francesca Annis, Kyle MacLachlan, J├╝rgen Prochnow, Patrick Stewart and Sting
With that being said, here’s a movie that takes place in the year 10191. That’s right, 8000 years in the future. Whoever wrote this story sure didn’t want to deal with Earth history overlapping with his tale. Continuity is a bitch. Regardless of the film’s setting, Dune was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. I would love to examine it more closely in this review, but the complexities and undertones that compose this film are either too many, too expansive or figments of my own imagination. In addition, the film is based on Frank Herbert’s Dune, so many of the mysterious aspects of the film are probably addressed more extensively in the literature than in the film. Since I haven't read the book, I went in at a severe disadvantage.

“Reverse dramatic irony” was the best term I could come up with to describe how I felt about this film. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “dramatic irony”, it is when a piece (or pieces) of information is known to the audience but not to characters in the work. Well, “reverse dramatic irony” is simply the opposite. I felt like every character (and the producers) knew what the hell was going on politically and socially in the Dune universe while I, the lowly audience member, was dropped into this intergalactic mess knowing absolutely nothing.

What proved even more aggravating was the movie posed more questions and referenced past histories that never got concentrated on or explained throughout the course of the film. I was in the dark for the entire 2.5 hour run. Although the characters were interesting and well-acted, I never learned who they really were, despite the film’s attempt to link the audience with them. Almost every character had at least one line of dialogue that was only spoken in their mind. We could hear their thoughts, essentially, although for the longest time I thought they were telepathically communicating with somebody. I don’t know, I was so confused, and I’m usually the one who can keep up with stuff like this.

The set design was wonderful! The architecture and technology that inhabited this world certainly lived up to Dune’s epic reputation. Although, some of the tech and uniforms looked very familiar to those used 8000 years prior. Am I supposed to believe that 1940s talk radio microphones are still being used in the 10000s? REJECT!
I feel that if I speak too much on the storyline, I’ll confuse most of you and turn away even more. But the intricacies of the characters drive this movie home. Paul Atreides (MacLachlan) plays the son of the Duke (Prochnow), whose mother is of an ancient clan of witches. He is the “messiah” destined to rescue the planet Arrakis, or Dune, from the killing clutches of the Emperor of the Universe. Emperor of the UNIVERSE? REJECT!

The planet is the only place in the universe that holds the spice “melange,” which is said to extend life and help travel in space. I’m going to stop there, because going any further into the storyline is just game over, man.

Final Thoughts
Dune proved to be a boring yet epic science fiction film. However, as I mentioned in my introduction, it lacked that relatability that good science fiction should have. Many of the characters were devoid of emotion, creating a separation between character and audience. The story is so fantastical that it proved difficult to wrap my head around, and my brain reeled with questions of why, how, when and who the entire length of the film. I’ve heard rumors that even to fans of the novel this film was unacceptable. Dune’s complexities and mysterious universe histories keeps fans starting outside of these worlds where they started…outside.

I would love to suggest this film to you, but I know you would hate it. One thing I decided to do before watching was clearing my head of everything I know, and do away with all my expectations of
Dune. Regardless, I still finished the movie confused and aggravated; not because it was bad, just because it went WAY over my head.

Further Reading:
The most interesting thing I came across was that sequels were planned, but the movie did so poorly that they were soon canceled. David Lynch avoids discussing Dune in interviews now. I'd be so pissed if I was a die-hard Dune fan. Sorry guys. []


Ben Pearson said...

I'm sure you know this since you probably read that Wikipedia entry, but there are some cuts of the movie that feature the name "Alan Smithee" as director instead of David Lynch. Smithee is a fictional character agreed upon by all of Hollywood to attribute bad movies to in case the directors are displeased with the final product and don't want to be associated with the material.

Panther Joe said...

8000 years in the future. really? how can anyone relate to that? said...

Party like its 10191!
I have David Lynch's paintings in a book if you ever want to see... some more.. weird stuff.