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Sunday 6 November 2011

Burl reviews Dune! (1984)

It is by Burl alone I set my review in motion! Ha ha, it's me to review a science-fiction spectacular! I guess Dune didn’t do all that well at the box office when it came out back around Christmas of 1984! Ha ha, it was no Star Wars, that’s for certain! I’m not even sure it was a Flash Gordon or a Last Starfighter! But it was and always shall be a Dune, which is to say among the strangest and most unique science fiction pictures ever made!
Ha ha, it still amazes me that David Lynch was hired to direct this mammoth project, given that he’d only made two feature films before this, and one of them was an impenetrable art movie that took him ten years to complete! But I’m glad he was! Of course, there were other attempts to make Dune before this, most famously the Alejandro Jodorowsky kick at it, which would have been crazy that’s for sure! I think Ridley Scott was going to try as well, which is less exciting; but if it had happened during his Alien / Blade Runner phase and not his Somebody To Watch Over Me period, it might have been something pretty special!
A lot of people mourn the non-existence of these versions, and Dino De Laurentiis was probably among them, ha ha, but I’m pretty happy with this Lynch one! It would have been nice if he’d been allowed to make it as long as he wanted, but it had to be 137 minutes and not a second longer, so they could fit in two shows a night! Too bad, because you can really see the forced compression in the final product!
I don’t know if there’s anyone reading this who doesn’t know the plot, but here it is in even more of a nutshell than Lynch had to put it! It’s the future, and there’s a really valuable spice that everyone wants, more precious than cardamom! You can only get it on planet Dune, and the good Atredies and the nasty Harkonnen families both want to control it! But Paul Atredies is destined to be the king of the universe no matter what the bald witches, Emperor Toulouse-Lautrec or the space slugs say, and the race of leather daddies who live in the desert and their giant pet worms have their own opinions on all these matters; and later it rains!
You can see how it would be hard to fit all that into just over two hours and make all the crazy detours you’d want to make if you were David Lynch! Ha ha, thank goodness for Transcendental Meditation! No, he wasn’t entirely successful, but he made a good fist of it, as they say, and the movie certainly looks fantastic! I love the brassy look it all has, and the supporting cast is almost too excellent, since most of them get pretty short shrift when it comes to screen time! Why hire an Oscar winner like Linda Hunt if you’re just going to have her creep fearfully into a room and then leave again? Well, I’m sure that wasn’t the plan, but that’s how it turned out!
And there’s some good creatures in here, thanks to that old rascal Carlo Rambaldi! The worms are amazing of course, and I always wondered what would happen if, as is suffered by one of the characters, you got eaten by one! And who, I wonder, would win in a fight, a sand worm or The All-Consuming Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi? Meanwhile, the space slugs who control the universe, but are really little more than glorified bus drivers, are particularly gross! But even grosser is the Baron Harkonnen, who I’m not even sure was a Carlo Rambaldi creation or not! Certainly he looks even worse than that famous piece of poo, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial!
For giving it a darn good try even if it could have been so much better, I award Dune three incredibly bushy eyebrow guys with smeared lipstick! But I do have one question: How did Toto of all rock groups get the job of doing the score, and why didn’t they do any more movie work? Ha ha, they did a pretty good job with this one!

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