Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DUNE (1984)

The Score: 10 out of 10

David Lynch proved himself with The Elephant Man (1980), gaining status as the hottest new director in Hollywood. His rising star even caught the attention of George Lucas, who released a little independent film of his own that year: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). But the young artist's mainstream popularity would be threatened as he confronted the Hollywood system during the production of his science fiction epic: Dune (1984). Dune would be the first and last big-budget film of David Lynch's career, but is the most awesome attempt at a transcendent blockbuster ever committed to celluloid.

Four Filmmakers Have Come to Our Attention Regarding the Making of Dune:
Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Ridley Scott, and George Lucas
David Lynch's third feature film would prove to be his most controversial in terms of artistic merit. Critics savaged it as a confusing. The movie-watching public avoided it at the box office, causing the picture to lose anywhere between $10-$20 million depending on your source. Although this is still serious money in today's terms, in mid 1980's dollars without the anticipated DVD, Blu-Ray, and Video on Demand sales to later compensate, this constituted a gargantuan financial loss.
Patrick Stewart in an Early Supporting Role as the Atreides Poet/Musician/Warrior Gurney Halleck
In the Extended TV Cut, Gurney Winks at Paul After Quoting Some Bible Passages with a Humorous Twist
The Heir to the Atreides Dukedom Cannot Contain his Laughter
Paul's Father, Duke Leto Atreides, Restrains His Laughter but Nonetheless Smiles at Gurney's Antics
Many unfairly dismissed the film at first glance, but over the years Dune (1984) has steadily developed a cult following and is one of David Lynch's most watched and discussed films. For whatever faults you can find in the theatrical cut and extended TV cut, Dune deserves reconsideration as the most lush and impressive science fiction film ever made. In this article we will make a case for the release of a new Definitive Cut so the film can find a stronger place with mainstream audiences.
The Making of David Lynch's Dune
David Lynch's experience making Dune (1984) is reminiscent of another filmmaker's experience with his first big-budget feature film. Stanley Kubrick's first swing in the big leagues was the Kirk Douglas vehicle Spartacus (1960). Douglas enjoyed his experience working with Kubrick on Paths of Glory (1957) and as the producer he brought in Kubrick to replace the original director with whom he had artistic differences. Spartacus and Dune would be mammoth productions compared to Kubrick's and Lynch's preceding low-budget black and white efforts. And although both directors possess unparalleled cinematic vision, they would be forced to compromise their styles.
Stanley Kubrick's Big Break: Spartacus (1960)
Stanley Kubrick would go on record that Spartacus (1960) did not fully represent his vision of what the film should be, but he did not complain since it was a stepping stone in his career that opened many doors. These sentiments are similar to what David Lynch expressed about Dune (1984). But fortunately for Kubrick, Spartacus caught on with contemporary audiences and became a box office success. Unfortunately for Lynch, Dune did not fare so well at the box office, closing some of the doors he had hoped to open. Both filmmakers demanded total control of their next projects and coincidentally both filmmakers' next films would match closely in subject and tone: Kubrick's Lolita (1962) and Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986).
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Dune (1984) Would Share Similar Dream-Like Qualities
Drawing a fair comparison between Spartacus (1960) and Dune (1984), you will notice several similarities. Both films not only feature a protagonist who leads an uprising against an evil empire but also shockingly showcases the evils and excesses of those empires. But Dune had the added pressure of being a 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in addition to being a Spartacus. And David Lynch had to accomplish this with a significantly shorter running time.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is the True Story of a Englishman Who Became the Military Leader of a Foreign Desert People
Renaissance man Frank Herbert explained that in writing the novel Dune (1965), he was strongly influenced by the true story of Lawrence of Arabia (1962), directed by David Lean. And if you combine together the plot lines from Spartacus, 2001, and Lawrence, then you begin to approach the complexity of Dune's story. And since the adaptation of Dune (1984) was forced into the shortest running time of the four films, then the true scope of David Lynch's achievement begins to come into focus.
  1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)       ran between 216 and 228 minutes, depending on the print.
  2. Spartacus (1960)                        ran between 184 and 198 minutes, depending on the print.
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ran between 141 and 160 minutes, depending on the print.
  4. Dune (1984)                                ran at 137 minutes.

Paul Atreides Takes on a Simlar Role to T.E. Lawrence from Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Becoming the Military Leader of a Foreign Desert People in the Novel Dune (1965)
Arthur C. Clarke, the author of the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey, described the novel Dune in the following terms: "I know nothing comparable to it except Lord of the Rings." Frank Herbert builds a rich, densely layered universe in Dune, making it one of the most complex and rewarding works of fiction. For this reason, it is widely considered one of the most difficult novels to adapt for the big screen.
Dune brims with dozens of complex and intelligently written characters whose inner thought processes are revealed throughout the text. The text reveals their differing philosophies and world views, giving context for everyone's actions. David Lynch performed an amazing feat by beautifully adapting a story of this magnitude within such restrictive time constraints. He reportedly wrote seven drafts of the screenplay before finishing and was halfway through adapting the sequel "Dune Messiah." Lynch envisioned adapting the first three books of the Dune Chronicles into an epic cinematic trilogy, Dune (1984) simply acting as the opening chapter in the story. The care and dedication David Lynch gave this story is extraordinary and shows in every frame of film.

Freddie Francis Returns to Photograph Dune with the Most Beautiful Desert Images Captured on Film
Dune (1984) contains many metaphors about the world's dependency on oil and drugs, both pharmaceuticals and narcotics. The spice melange and its different variants are essential to space travel, greater longevity, increased lifespans, and enhanced brain function. Since humanity was once enslaved by thinking machines thousands of years ago, advanced computer technology has been banned. Humans developed their minds to perform the complex tasks once assigned to computers. Since the spice exists on only one planet in the universe, the desert planet Arrakis, the right to mine the spice is of extreme importance.
Humans Began Specializing their Evolution Along Separate Paths. The Guild Developed the Ability to Fold Space, a Technique Used to Transport People and Things Across the Universe Instantaneously
The Bene Gesserit Developed Telepathy, the Ability to Read the Minds of Others
Royal families govern in conjunction with these organizations, forming a strange status quo. The different groups and factions in this universe in turn conspire against each other whenever it is beneficial. This equilibrium is threatened when the Emperor of the known universe, Shaddam IV, devises a plan to destroy the popular Duke Leto Atreides before he is too powerful to stop from becoming the new Emperor.
Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, Ruler of the Known Universe
The Popular, Just, and Benevolent Duke Leto Atreides
Duke Leto is creating a new army that will be more powerful and better equipped than any other fighting force, including the Emperor's troops. So Shaddam develops a treacherous plan to wipe out the House Atreides in secret. Shaddam assigns the Atreides to mine the spice on Arrakis, replacing their enemies the House Harkonnen. Believing this honor to be a triumph, the Atreides will be off guard and unfamiliar with the terrain of Arrakis. The Emperor and Baron Harkonnen will then launch a sneak attack on the Atreides, hiding the Emperor's involvement by making it appear as if the Baron worked alone.
Baron Vladmir Harkonnen Works with the Emperor to Destroy the House Atreides
The Baron Has Plans for His Cruel Nephew, Feyd Rautha, to Become Emperor Someday
Feyd Rautha is Performed with Relish by Popular Singer/Songwriter/Musician Sting
The Duke and his family arrive on Arrakis to encounter many difficulties in the process of assuming control of spice mining from the Harkonnen. The local desert people, otherwise known as Fremen, are suspicious of the Atreides family after dealing with the Harkonnen for the last fifty years. Eventually the Atreides and Fremen develop a relationship of mutual cooperation and trust, but the Emperor and the Baron attack the Duke and retake control of Arrakis.
The House Atreides First Arrive to Take Command of Spice Mining Operations
With their Army's Honor Guard Waiting to Receive Them
The Brightness and Heat of Arrakis Contrast Sharply with the Dark Traveling Conditions in Space
Heat Waves Obscure the Atreides as They Walk on Dune's Surface for the First Time. Their Virtuous Lifestyles and Benevolent Rule Eventually Endear Them with the Fremen
Duke Leto dies during the attack in an attempt to help his consort Jessica and his son Paul escape. The mother and son end up finding refuge with the Fremen, who Jessica and Paul quickly train using the advanced military techniques and technology they brought with them. Soon the Fremen become the most powerful fighting force in the universe and help the Atreides retake control of Arrakis by defeating the Baron Harkonnen and the Emperor Shaddam IV.

The Original Title for Star Wars Episode VI
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, George Lucas shaped into existence a new style of film-making by blending old-world mythologies with new-world special effects. Lucas hearkened back to old-school film traditions and yet revolutionized them by blending together elements of science fiction with fantasy, adventure with drama, and action with philosophy. George Lucas fashioned together one of the most successful blockbusters of all time and helped reinvigorate an ailing film industry in the late 70's.
Unsure of How to Sell Star Wars to the Public,
Sexy Luke and Leia were Placed on the Poster
When a filmmaker sets out to accomplish something new and untried, he or she will invariably encounter opposition from those who guard the status quo. George Lucas received immense pressure from his backers throughout production of Episode IV to conform to more standard film-making tropes. He was constantly having to prove himself while under constant threat of studio cancellation. This is tantamount to holding a painter's feet to the fire until he produces a painting to your liking.
Pictured: George Lucas's Feet During the Filming of Episode IV
The disheartening criticism from executives above and the plodding incredulity from his cast and crew below would prove too exhausting for George Lucas in the duration. Lucas not only fell ill during the production but also lost hope in the process, choosing not to direct another film for 20 years.
George Lucas Explains C-3PO's Motivation for this Scene Again...
George Lucas Composing a Shot for American Graffiti (1973)
George Lucas Directing Robert Duvall on the Set of THX-1138 (1971)
Because of his soul-crushing frustration making THX-1138 (1971), American Graffiti (1973), and finally Star Wars (1977), George Lucas would never return to the studio system. George Lucas balked at Hollywood tradition and transformed himself into the most successful independent film producer of all time. He wisely retained all sequel rights to his original film, enabling him to privately finance his own sequel. Lucas would take out multi-million dollar loans from lending institutions, and with his own earnings from the first film, he would make what was at the time the largest independent production ever undertaken outside studio control.
Irvin Kershner Taught George Lucas at Film School and Would Direct The Empire Strikes Back
"Alas, Poor Yoda. I Knew Him Well, Han Solo... A Muppet of Infinite Jest."
Although George Lucas would produce and co-write The Empire Strikes Back, he delegated directorial and screen-writing responsibilities to others. Lucas would focus on maintaining quality control of his picture as the creator and producer, but turn to his former professor at film school to direct Episode V, Irvin Kershner. Lucas also employed Lawrence Kasdan to rewrite and improve the screenplay and add certain degrees of nuance needed for the story to work successfully. These collaborations would result in one of the most successful sequels ever made and is still considered the benchmark against which all other blockbuster sequels are measured.
The Empire Strikes Back Climax
In the year David Lynch was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, George Lucas's Empire was also nominated, but only in four technical categories. Whatever may have run through Lucas's mind the night of the awards ceremony, we can assume he was impressed with David Lynch's style and achievement in The Elephant Man (1980). And George Lucas soon invited David Lynch to direct the last of the Star Wars Trilogy.
David Lynch Directing The Elephant Man
David Lynch gives a full account of his interactions with George Lucas in this recent interview. Although the video cannot be embedded here for technical reasons, you can follow the link to youtube to hear Lynch's story in full.
George Lucas Plays it Safe and Plays His Old "Death Star" Card Again
He Either Ran Out of New Ideas or Just Stopped Taking Risks
David Lynch respects George Lucas and met with him at Skywalker Ranch to discuss the possibility of directing Episode VI, but Lynch politely declined and recommended Lucas direct the film himself. Since George Lucas would retain full creative control over the film anyway, Lynch believed Lucas should follow through on his own vision rather than rely on someone else to bring it to life. In a very straightforward way, David Lynch passed on the opportunity to direct one of the most anticipated films in history.
The Most Hotly Anticipated Sequel Ever
At the time, most people in Hollywood could not understand why David Lynch would pass on a dream project like Star Wars. But with the eventual release of Return of the Jedi (1983), the concept of being George Lucas's hired gun began to be seen in a less appealing light. And in hindsight, subordinating a director of Lynch's sensibilities to the constraints of Lucas's vision would be a mistake.
Pictured: The Little Death that Brings Total Oblivion...
David Lynch is not just another "franchise director" to bring in to knock off a sequel. And given the ultimate storytelling failures that would be the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, some of the creative problems involving George Lucas are now apparent. In this article, former Lucas collaborator Gary Kurtz explains practically everything you would want to know about the development of his and George Lucas's career connected to Star Wars and why they eventually parted ways over creative differences during the preproduction of Return of the Jedi.
Pictured: Some of the Most Disappointed Actors in History
George Lucas seemed to forget the lessons of his youth when he was a visionary director, who like David Lynch needed freedom to create his own cinematic world without being micromanaged by anyone else. Instead, Lucas trended toward crass commercialism over emphasis on character and story, just as the studios did before him.
How Can We Stay Mad at the Creator of Han Solo Forever?
As depressing as it has been to watch his artistically stilted prequel trilogy, we have great hope that the George Lucas we all know and love will come back to make another great film again. We know there is an incredible filmmaker still inside him, wanting to create again. In a world dominated with dark and dreary films, we could use another Han Solo or Luke Skywalker to brighten the cineplex screens. All filmmakers and film watchers owe George Lucas a debt for his contributions to improving the film industry. But as much as his technological breakthroughs might be useful, it was his storytelling ability in the original trilogy that made the greatest impact.

Blade Runner (1982) and Dune (1984) Would Share Similar Fates
When George Lucas was reaching out to David Lynch, legendary film producer Dino De Laurentis also helmed a massive science fiction epic of his own. At first Dino acquired the amazing Ridley Scott attached to direct. At that time, Ridley Scott was another successful up-and-coming director with his surprise high-grossing sleeper hit Alien (1979). However, these two men's collaboration on Dune aimed at a story significantly more ambitious than Return of the Jedi.
Ridley Scott Directing Sigourney Weaver on the Set of Alien (1979)
Ridley Scott Directing Dune
Unfortunately, Ridley Scott suffered a personal tragedy that pulled him away from early preproduction on Dune before getting it off the ground. Many people privately muse what Scott and his art design team from Alien (1979) would have done with the Dune universe, but those answers will have to remain hypothetical. Eventually, Scott's attention would be drawn to the dark science fiction project Blade Runner (1982) and Dino De Laurentis would look for another director to develop Dune.
Sean Young as the Replicant Love Interest in Blade Runner (1982)
Sean Young as the Fremen Love Interest in Dune (1984)
In a rather blatant example of synchronicity, Ridley Scott's selection of male and female leads would crossover with George Lucas's Star Wars and David Lynch's Dune. Harrison Ford would play the part of the blade runner, Rick Deckard. Ford gained his star power by playing the rogue Han Solo in the Star Wars films. Deckard's love interest, Rachael, would be played by Sean Young, who would also star as the main love interest in David Lynch's production of Dune.
An Iconic Moment from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982)
Several other elements of synchronocity would connect the two productions, as Blade Runner (1982) and Dune (1984) would go on to share similar fates. Both films would attract attention from studio executives who arbitrarily truncated the alloted running times and wrested much creative control of the pictures away from their young auteur directors. Both films would share similar production budgets, would be essentially destroyed in editing, would be panned by the critics, and would flop at the box office.
An Iconic Moment from David Lynch's Dune (1984)
In a Moment of Lynchian Brilliance, the Novel's Weirding Way is Interpreted as a Sound Weapon

Paul Trains the Fremen to Destroy their Enemies by Harnessing Certain Words
Paul Harnesses the Power of Words
But the similarities between the two films do not end there. In spite of the fact the theatrical cuts for Blade Runner (1982) and Dune (1984) were castrated versions of their true selves, both films began to develop a steady cult following among perceptive viewers. For people capable of looking past the artificial constraints under which both films were presented theatrically, the filmmakers' powerful achievements could still be discerned if analyzed closely enough. The underlying design and story of the films were still bright enough to shine through the layers of creative studio interference.
Harrison Ford is a Retired Tracker and Eliminator of Replicants, Just Looking for Some Peace and Quiet
Some executives at Universal Studios eventually recognized several impressive sequences and character moments vital to the story's success among the large amounts of footage they forced David Lynch to cut from his theatrical version of Dune (1984). But rather than offer Lynch the opportunity to re-cut the film into an official extended version to better represent his original vision, they instead hired hack TV editors behind Lynch's back to go through the raw footage of his film and rearrange it into a new high-profile TV mini-series.
Princess Irulan's Narration Would Be Replaced in the TV Cut with the Gruff Voice of an Old Man
The TV cut would feature some of the worst editing you will find done to a professionally made film, as scenes were spliced out of order outside their context, inappropriate musical cues from the soundtrack were played over scenes that should have had no music at all, and fight scenes and transitional sequences were arbitrarily thrown together with bits and pieces of footage from other scenes of the film. The one academy award nomination the theatrical cut of Dune (1984) earned that year was for David Lynch and Alan Splet's impressive sound design, which was abandoned and frequently betrayed in the TV cut.
The Baron Harkonnen's Assault and Murder of a Slaveboy is Missing from the TV Cut 
The TV cut was so badly executed David Lynch appealed to the Director's Guild of America to have his name removed from the credits so he would not be associated with such incompetent film editing. Thus was born another Alan Smithee production, a pseudonym used by directors who choose to go uncredited for a film. Since Lynch had also written the screenplay, he expressed his disgust with what the studio had done to him by replacing his writing credit for the TV cut with the names of two notorious traitors: Judas Booth.
A Hack Editing Job, But Nonetheless it Contains About 30 Minutes Extra
Footage of Incredible Deleted Scenes and Character Moments
In spite of the hack job done to the TV cut of Dune, which aired in the late 80's and occasionally airs on the Disney Channel and the SciFi Channel in more recent years, the added scenes of character development, plot advancement, and cinematic world building were all sufficiently powerful to invigorate and intensify Dune's strong cult following into a devoted life-long fanbase. David Lynch provided the world with breathtaking sequences and images that audiences have never seen the likes of before or since. For this reason, the extended cut of Dune is still remarkably popular in spite of the incompetency of its editing.
An Extended Cut Done Right. Ridley Scott Recently Oversaw a Definitive Cut of Blade Runner (1982), He Also Includes the Other Cuts of His Film: Work Print, Theatrical, Director's Cut (90's), and Final Cut (00's).
Eventually Ridley Scott moved past the frustration he experienced with his studio and personally oversaw the reediting and remastering of a final director's cut for Blade Runner (1982), which is now hailed by audiences and critics alike as a classic work of art. Likewise, Dune's legion of loyal fans hope David Lynch will one day revisit the material and oversee a definitive, epic-length cut of Dune (1984). If Dune is to rise from cult to mainstream status, then the film should be presented in its proper length under the hands of a master filmmaker.

David Lynch Getting His Hands Dirty on the Set of Dune
George Lucas lists the novel Dune as one of his influences when he made Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977). Over fifty points of comparison can be found between the novel Dune (1965) and the Star Wars films. These obvious similarities created a problem for David Lynch as he prepared to film Dune. In a moment of irony, if Lynch failed to be careful in how he adapted the novel, most film viewers would assume he was ripping off George Lucas's Star Wars for Dune rather than the reverse.
One of the Most Ambitious and Difficult Projects in Film History
With the help of Dino and Rafaella De Laurentis, David Lynch would gather around him an impressive team from across the globe of artists, craftsmen, and designers. Together, they would transform Dune into one of the most unique and original films ever attempted on a grand scale. The sets, costumes, and art design were so impressive that Star Wars would literally seem like child's play in comparison.
Making of Dune Retrospective
But even with David Lynch doing his best to manage this mammoth production, he would be undermined in his preferred creative process. And ultimately, the 2 hour 15 minute limit on Dune's running time would prove to be an obstacle too difficult to overcome. Lynch made this point clear as he made his rounds across the talk show circuit before the release of his next film, Blue Velvet (1986). Here is an excerpt where he explains. (Editor's Note: Brian Linehan's "City Lights" interview with David Lynch is no longer available on youtube, so until we can find a new video of the interview please accept this alternative Lynch contemporary interview on Dune.)
1985 David Lynch Dune Interview
Throughout the years, many critics and film viewers doubted whether a film considered boring in its theatrical cut could suddenly become exciting in a longer cut. This is a legitimate question, and an answer can be found in film history where we learn the importance of context. Although Peter Jackson's theatrical cuts for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy might have been visually beautiful on the big screen, they were also monumentally inferior narratively to the extended editions later released later on home video.
Some Dislike the Theatrical Cuts, But Love the Extended Editions
Eventually an audience grows numb of watching the protagonists simply move from one action set piece to another. The combat of humans, wizards, orcs, elves, dwarves, ents, and ghosts might be spectacular visually, but it is also grows monumentally dull to watch without the full context provided in the extended story. The scenes of character development and world-building might seem unnecessary for the finished film, but in truth, they are completely necessary to capture the audience's attention and interest. Otherwise, the audience has no reason to care about anything on screen.
If You Rush the Pace and Flow of the Characters' Journeys, You Disconnect the Audience from the Action
Likewise, Zack Snyder's brilliant adaptation of Watchmen (2009) felt a little too disconnected, uneven, and drags on in too many places in its theatrical cut. But in Snyder's director's cut, the film flows correctly from scene to scene. The core emotional journey for each character seamlessly blend into each other until the film's powerful conclusion. The character journeys make the movie interesting. The Lord of the Rings, Watchmen, and Dune all need enough room to breathe in their pace. Rushing through the theatrical cuts only weakened these otherwise powerful films, lessening the impact of their stories. So for the right movie, extending it can make the story come to life and make the film much more exciting to watch.
We Need to Know How Much They Care Before We Care How Much They  Know
To emphasize this point, we present a scene deleted from the theatrical cut of Dune (1984), which was subsequently restored to the extended TV cut. This brief scene between the House Atreides and Dr. Kynes might seem unnecessary to the film, but without it many dramatic developments throughout the picture ring hollow.
Deleted Scene: Gurney Plays the Baliset
Aside from providing a pleasant musical interlude in an often bleak story, this one scene helps ground Paul's connection in his visions to an outstretched hand and the moons of Arrakis. Without displaying this significant moment for his character, the hand and moon are just random images in all his dream sequences. Honestly, the whole film feels weightier, more dramatic, and easier to comprehend with the inclusion of this one scene. It improves and clarifies the viewing experience for the rest of the film.
This is one of the most important moments of the film. It is the nexus of Paul's destiny. If his father Leto had not aligned with the leader of the Fremen at this point, then Paul might not have survived the fall of House Atreides later in the story. At this moment, Paul's father has helped secure Paul's future and the sequence at Leto's death actually makes artistic sense now.
Paul's character is tied in with the moon and hand motifs in profound ways now. Paul looks up to the moon at the moment of his father's death, understanding something on an intuitive level. The shadow formation on this moon shares the appearance of an outstretched hand, a visual motif that appears at key moments throughout the film. This connects Paul to the memory of his dead father and his quest to avenge his death.
Paul's Swordmaster Duncan Relays a Message for Paul to Meet with His Father...
... But Before Duncan Departs to Arrakis Ahead of the Household, Duncan Says Goodbye in a Unique Way,
"May the Hand of God Be with You." 
Paul Joins His Father on the Castle Balcony
Paul's Attention is Drawn to a Atreides Banner
The Same Banner Paul Will See Again in Vision at the Moment of his Father's Death
Duke Leto to His Son Paul, "Without change something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens. A sleeper must awaken."
Hours Later Paul is Tested by the Bene Gesserit with a Nerve Induction Box, Stimulating the Sensations of a Burning Hand. Paul's Successful Completion of the Test Proves He is a Superior Human Being. [Interesting Note: David Fincher's Fight Club (1999) Features a Nearly Identical Scene as Tyler Durden Burns Jack's Hand with Acid as a Test of Character.]
Dune (1984) Gom Jabbar Scene
Fight Club (1999) Chemical Burn Scene
A Fremen Reverend Mother Prophesies of the Voice From the Outer World
Arriving Soon to Bring the Fremen Out of Darkness
The Reverend Mother Ramallo Will Eventually Give Up Her Position to the Lady Jessica
A Ritual Where 15 of the Best Fremen Warriors Devote Themselves to Guarding Paul's Life
Paul Attains Transcendence by Taking the Water of Life, Connecting to His Father's Counsel, "A Sleeper Must Awaken."
Paul Gathers the Fremen Together to Plan the Final Battle Against the Harkonnen and the Emperor...
Paul's Purpose is Clear Once He Attains Enlightenment
Also gained from the deleted scene is a sense of struggle in Dr. Yueh, fighting his guilt over his planned treachery. Dr. Yueh politely warns Kynes away from the Atreides family. Without this scene, the Harkonnen's murder of Dr. Kynes will also seem random and lose its impact later in the film.
The Giving of One's Water is a Symbol of Respect on Arrakis
And Paul soon falls in love with Dr. Kynes's daughter, a woman Paul has foreseen in vision. Without this scene tying their two families together, their future romance develops out of the blue.
The Images of Paul and Chani Refracted Through the Symbolic Waters of Their Lives
Now when Paul quickly develops a romantic relationship with Kynes's daughter, Chani, we understand why there is no protracted courtship. Their fathers' friendship and alliance is traditionally a prelude for marriage between two families. In the theatrical cut of Dune, you are never made aware that Chani is even related to Dr. Kynes, let alone formally aligned to Paul's family before they meet.
Paul Receives Extra Preparation for the Hostile Desert in the Extended Version as Dr. Yueh
Explains Why Body Shields Cannot Work in the Open Desert and the Risk of Sandstorms
In fact, many of the most intriguing scenes and lines of dialogue cannot be found in the theatrical version of Dune (1984). This next set of images are taken from a tender conversation and love scene between the Lady Jessica and Duke Leto Atreides, which takes place near the beginning of the film.

The Bene Gesserit Have Planned the Breeding of a Superhuman for 90 Generations
But Jessica's Love for Duke Leto Leads Her to Break Away from the Plan
The Extended Cut of Dune is More Romantic and the Characters are Better Developed
The next set of images come from a scene in which Jessica confronts her housekeeper, who we discover is a Fremen agent. Because of Jessica's advanced training and impressive education, she manipulates the situation to her advantage by invoking certain ancient Fremen words and traditions.
The Shadout Mapes is Sent to Verify Whether or Not Jessica is the One Written of in Fremen Prophecy
Mapes Carries a Crysknife to Test Jessica. If She Passes, It Will Be Given as a Gift.
If She Fails, It Will Be the Means of Jessica's Death.
Here Paul is confronted by an angry Fremen Warrior named Jamis, who demands a duel after Paul knocked him out earlier in self-defense.
After Paul wins the duel and must regrettably kill the warrior, the Fremen tribe perform a ritual to break down Jamis's body into its component water molecules. His water is then introduced into the community reservoir, his body's water becoming the property of Paul.
The Leader of this Fremen Tribe Gives Paul a Secret Fremen Name Usul, which Means "Strength at the Base of the Pillar."
Jamis's Corpse is Wrapped in a Moisture-Preserving Bag...
... Then Transported to the Fremen Water Still ...
... Here a Fremen Water Master Prepares the Still...
... and the Fremen Lay Down Jamis's Body in the Machine...
... Where His Family is First Allowed to Say their Final Farewells...
... and Lay His Crysknife on his Body...
...Before His Body is Broken Down into its Component Water Molecules...
... and Ciphoned into a Container...
... for Measuring and Transport.
Tokens for the Water's Ownership Rights are then Offered to Paul...
... and Jamis's Water is then Brought to the Community Reservoir...
... and Ritualistically Poured in Where it will Join the Remainder of the Waters of the Fremen.
Here Paul Discovers a Fulfillment to His Visions...
... Connecting Back to Leto's Alliance with Dr. Kynes, the Leader of the Fremen.
And in this unforgettable moment in the TV cut, the Fremen drown a baby sandworm in a ritual to create the waters of life. It is implied that Jessica will drink this particular batch, although the hack editor placed this scene out of proper order, confusing this fact.
A Baby Sandworm Being Drowned...
... to Create a Byproduct...
... Called the Water of Life...
... that the Protagonists Take to Unlock Their Full Potential.
The drowning of the baby sandworm to create the water of life, Paul's duel with Jamis and eventual dissolution into his component water that is poured into the communal Fremen reservoir, Jessica's confrontation with the Shadout Mapes, and Dr. Kynes's good-natured visit with the Atreides while Gurney plays the baliset are among the most fascinating moments of any science fiction film.
In Another Deleted Scene, Duncan Idaho Carries a Warning from the Fremen to the House Atreides, Invoking Biblical Language: "Column of Smoke by Day, Pillar of Fire by Night."
David Lynch deserves the release of a professional full length release of the film that better represents Lynch's vision. We call upon Universal Studios and David Lynch to please reconsider their former positions and create a new definitive cut for Dune (1984). David Lynch's singular science fiction masterpiece deserves better treatment than it has received. Please click "Like" on the Facebook Petition below to show Universal Studios your interest for the development of a new definitive cut for Dune on Blu-Ray.

Paul Defeats His Enemies and Reigns as the New Emperor of the Known Universe
George Lucas made great family entertainment with Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and to a lesser extent VI. Stanley Kubrick made an amazing science fiction film in 2001: A Space Odyssey and made a solid epic with his big-budget compromise Spartacus. David Lean did an admirable job with his true war movie Lawrence of Arabia, even inspiring Frank Herbert while writing Dune. But David Lynch's most ambitious project Dune not only deserves to be listed among those classics but also surpasses them.
Dune Sandworm Riding Scene
The theatrical cut of Dune (1984) is available in a beautiful 1080p HD presentation on Blu-Ray. And although a version of this movie can be found on Netflix Instant Watching, the video transfer is horrible, presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio instead of its true 2.35:1. "Pan and Scan" video transfers are relics of the VHS era. Do not watch Dune via Netflix Streaming Video.
Dune's Original Theatrical Trailer
At this time, the extended edition of the film is only available on standard definition DVD. But the video is still beautifully rendered and worth watching for the reasons mentioned in this article. And in fact, some of the video elements seem better preserved in this alternate version of the film, and some of the same footage shared between the two cuts of the film look more pristine in thee extended edition.
Dune Fan Edit Trailer
For your enjoyment, here some interesting videos related to the making of Dune. This first video is from the studio press kit, the original "making of" featurette: Destination Dune.
Destination Dune Featurette
The second video is of behind-the-scenes footage shot and narrated by Sean Young, Blade Runner's Rachael and Dune's Chani.
Home Movies on Dune's Set
This third clip contains David Lynch's cameo as a spice miner in the film. This is his first major cameo in his mainstream work. The only other prominent cameo would be in Twin Peaks (1990-1991), where he plays the recurring character of FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole.
David Lynch Cameo
In the fourth clip, Frank Herbert discusses some thoughts about his novel series The Dune Chronicles, six novels of which he completed before passing away: 1. Dune, 2. Dune Messiah, 3. Children of Dune, 4. God Emperor of Dune, 5. Heretics of Dune, and 6. Chapterhouse: Dune. Interestingly, David Lynch originally planned on adapting the first three novels into an epic movie trilogy.
Frank Herbert Interview
In clips five through seven, Frank Herbert and David Lynch are interviewed and discuss the novel and film adaptation of Dune. Fascinating material worth listening to when you have a chance.
Herbert and Lynch Interview (Pt. 1)
Herbert and Lynch Interview (Pt. 2)
Herbert and Lynch Interview (Pt. 3)
Next week we discuss David Lynch's second collaboration with Dino De Laurentis, the middle-american mystery Blue Velvet (1986). It is available on Netflix Instant Watching and has an excellent special edition DVD release. This film represents another sumptuous visual feast of cinematography, this time shot with former Eraserhead (1976) cinematographer Frederick Elmes.
Making of Dune Retrospective (Pt. 3)
Blue Velvet (1986) would prove polarizing among audience members and critics alike. Even those who love the picture can find it difficult to recommend with its frank depiction of violence, rape, drug use, and its portrayal of sadomasochism.
Rude Blue Velvet Promotional Interview
But even among those who detest the film, most will confess the film is a powerful cinematic journey contrasting good and evil in humanity. David Lynch creates in Blue Velvet (1986) a film every bit as engaging and intriguing as anything done by Alfred Hitchcock. Whether emphasizing the voyeuristic elements of Rear Window (1954), the shocking twists of Psycho (1960), or the subjective surrealism of Vertigo (1958), Blue Velvet is clearly a modern-day masterpiece and counted among the greatest achievements of David Lynch's career.
Blue Velvet (1986) Theatrical Trailer

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  1. mi film preferido de siempre desde que lo vi en mi Barcelona natal en 1984 en el cine, con 13 años.
    Espectacular el articulo

  2. Estoy de acuerdo. Duna es una pelicula increible. Gracias por leer y por compartir tu experiencia con nosotros. !Feliz dia de accion de gracias a todo!

  3. Wow, really thorough article. Thankyou!

    I love this film as much as you do, which is why I created and released my own fanedit of it called Dune The Alternative Edition. Details

    May the hand of god be with you, :)


  4. Thank you for the wonderful photos!
    Kisses from Poland!

  5. May the hand of God be with us all, Spice Diver :)

  6. The video re: Blue Velvet has been removed from YouTube. Can you point me to another copy? I'd like to see what he had to say about Dune during that time.

  7. Mike, we have been searching for an alternate video clip of David Lynch's "City Lights" interview with Brian Linehan. So far we have not found an alternate version. David Lynch was making the rounds on the talk-show circuit promoting "Blue Velvet" and it is a fascinating interview. If anyone finds another version, then please let us know here on the comments section. Thank you.

  8. Oh man...I can't believe all this Dune love that I'm seeing!!!

    If only David had 1% of your love for this film....that would be a massive shift!!!

    I've said it before...If David had shown the sort of love for his film that Ridley Scott did for Bladerunner...then we'd have our improved version of Dune and it would probably be the greatest sci-fi movie ever made!

    It seems that David got so burnt by the 'Dune' experience that he is loathe to ever go anywhere near it....let alone improve it ala Scott/Bladerunner...Hell, he will walk out of interview even if it is mentioned.

    David does himself and the film a dis-service by being this artist is as good as his least, that is what some say.

    Look how Ridley's donkey of a movie....turned out!!!

    I can't say I'm a fan of Star Wars or the franchise...I've always found the dialogue to be beyond cheese and it takes itself far too seriously. I honestly prefer watching Dino's underrated Flash Gordon instead....which could never be accused of taking itself seriously...and that is one of its main strengths, that and Donati's minblowing cotumes & sets. I always thought Lucas got his main idea for Skywalker from Flash Gordon, the original series...but he couldn't get the rights etc. I'm just pleased that Lucas didn't get to make Apocalypse Now (a real fav of mine) and that he went off to do Star I can't complain too much!

    TBH...I partly blame the Star Wars franchise for intellectually lobotomizing the cinema going audience with its comic book attitude and cheesey dialogue. I just don't really see the typical Star Wars fan being able to digest something as complex as Dune...but that is just my opinion.

    Finally....just want to say what a 'God' you are for loving Dune and it really shows in this piece....many thanks.

  9. I fell in love with this movie on opening weekend and pretty much figured I was the only one until recently.

  10. time for a fucking director´s cut... this could be like blade runner

  11. Good article, vell documented (too bad for the broken youtube links). Thks!