I admit I’m not a fan David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune. I have many problems with the film, but the biggest is that it completely misses the point of the novel. Dune is not a hero’s journey. It’s not simply a grimdark Star Wars. Rather, it’s a story about the dangers of charismatic leadership and the interplay between political and religious power. In the movie, we don’t get to her Paul’s internal struggle, much less any hint that his jihad might have negative repercussions for the future. Indeed, in the final scene from the film, rain pours down as if to bless Paul’s victory.
There are other needless changes from the book. Why do the Harkonnens walk around with heart plugs? Why does Thufir Hawat have to milk a cat? What are those sonic voice-activated weapons the Fremen use? What does any of this add to the story? Small points perhaps, but all the more frustrating because Lynch seemed more concerned with them than with capturing the spirit of the story.
All that said, the film captures the baroque aesthetic of the Dune universe. The elegant costumes, the grandiose architecture, and the larger-than-life soundtrack all evoke the Frank Herbert’s writing. It also helps that the crew shot the desert scenes in a real desert in Mexico. When I try to envision Dune, I can’t help but think of Lynch’s visual depictions, despite the plot.
I don’t really have much else to say about this film except to say don’t judge the book by this movie.
My journey through Dune continues next week with the Sci-Fi Channel’s Dune miniseries, a vastly superior adaptation…