Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Dune

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Dir: David Lynch (Inland Empire, Mulholland Dr., Blue Velvet)
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Jürgen Prochnow, Francesca Annis, Kenneth McMillan, Virginia Madsen, Sean Young, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Linda Hunt, Brad Dourif, Max von Sydow, Dean Stockwell
USA, 1984

Originally Seen: At home, sometime in the 80's
Revisited: October 18, 2009 on VHS! (Original 127 minutes version)

Reason to see: Revisiting it for It Used to Scare Me Tuesdays

This is a less traditional choice for It Used to Scare Me Tuesdays (I've only done 2 so far - but that's enough to set a tradition up, no?) as it is science fiction and not horror and I don't think many people would consider it scary. But, I remember viscerally reacting to the film and being completely freaked out, yet barely remember what it was about except 'The Spice', the hovering/flying guy and the fact that Sting was in it. The moment I looked it up and saw it was directed by David Lynch, it started to fall into place why it would be scary as the atmosphere and tone could really come into play.

Revisiting Dune was easy, as for some bizarre reason I own it on VHS. It wasn't long before I realized why I couldn't remember that plot in detail as we quickly are drawn into a whole other world with governments, planets, families and power systems. I could barely keep everything straight this time and you can feel that the film has a weighty task of condensing the world of the book therefore uses the tactic to introduce, clarify and sum up key points using voice overs throughout the film.

Dune has a lot going for it, the huge world and epic power struggle are obvious highlights but what I found more interesting than the plot or setting was the design of the world and the actors. And I say actors intentionally as I didn't connect to many of the characters, but it sure was a treat to see performances by Jürgen Prochnow (Das Boot, The Seventh Sign), Dean Stockwell ("Quantum Leap", "Battlestar Galactica"), Patrick Stewart ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"), Linda Hunt (The Year of Living Dangerously), Brad Dourif ("Star Trek: Voyager") and of course Sting. I didn't even realize until after the fact that that the main character Paul Atreides is Kyle MacLachlan ("Sex in the City") in his first role. Wow. The design of the world in the film is spectacular, even 25 years after the fact. There were a few things that effects wise may not be what we are used to now but the key is in the fascinating ideas which really hold the test of time. I also enjoyed the sheer scale used, they certainly weren't afraid to go big! The inclusion of psychics in regular society was wild to see, especially considering how powerful they were and how it highlighted a Matriarchal subculture.

But, was it scary? Yep, it was. Originally I primarily found the scenes with the character Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan) were the ones that scared me. He is portrayed as literally bubbling over in grossness, overbearing, mean and creepy. What was more scary this time was the corruption and greed in the Harkonnens who are willing to do awful things in order to attain power, from general meanness to the enthusiasm for terrorizing others. It's not the traditional scary things, but it still bothers me whether it is conceptual or shown on the screen.

Shannon's Overall View:
It was better than I remembered
I'd watch it again, but not often
I'd recommend it to fans of epic films and science fiction

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© Shannon Ridler, 2009

5 comments:

Francisco Gonzalez said...

This one is one of my all time favorites. The Bene Geserit Witches were the ones who scared me when I watched it as a kid.

It was something about putting the hand in the box...and the way they changed their voices! Spoooky.

I also thought that Paul Atreides sister was freaky. How she was a child but spoke like an adult. THat plus she had the freakiest look in her eyes!

"Come closer Baron..."

Lynch himself hates this movie cause Hollywood took it from him and did what they wanted with it. But I love it to death! Its so grand in scale! They wanted to create another franchise, like Star Wars, but it never happened. People didnt really connect with the film. SAd, cause the movie rocks in my book!

Hey, I hear a remake is in the works! And its supposed to be happening soon!

Marina Antunes said...

I was well into my teens the first time I saw this and it's stuck with me ever since. For a while it was one of my favourite films, well int he top 10, but over the years it has slowly been trumped by a few others. Still a favourite and one I look forward to revisiting soon - I'm in the middle of a fairly epic DUNE refresher.

Jenn said...

I LOVE this movie! We haven't replaced our VHS director's cut version with a DVD yet but we really should because we no longer have a VHS machine. I didn't find it very scary but I didn't watch in until I was an adult. I keep meaning to find time to read the book (though I hear those are a bit more tedious to get through).

Did you watch the remake that they did (can't remember when but I think it had Frank Hurt in it)? I've only seen it once and my first impression was that I also liked it.

Haven't heard much about another re-make though I hope it goes well!

Suzie Ridler said...

I think there is a coldness to the movie that makes it disturbing, it seems to be more intellectual which can be a little off-putting even though I liked it. I am watching the lead in Twin Peaks and wow, Lynch is pretty darn crazy. He really takes risks and is conceptual which blows my mind too.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Wow, I had no idea Dune would resonate with so many people!

Francisco you totally nailed a lot of the creepy parts... hand in the box, crazy voice of the sister.. crazy!

I had no idea it was so high on your list Marina! It's totally epic.

I didn't see the remake Jenn, I remember it when was on but not feeling super hurrah about the original I let it pass - I regret that now! Maybe it will get replayed one day.

It is very cold, Suzie - I think that is one reason it wasn't that accessible.

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