Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dune 1984


Having done an extensive review and historical post just last December for this movie, I will refer you to that page on "30 Years On". This film is a personal favorite of mine, a characteristic it shares with my oldest daughter Allison. We had originally planned to go together but she had some other conflict and missed out tonight. Since I'd already bought the tickets, my wife agreed to go with me and I'm happy to say she liked the film quite well.

Once upon a time I might have felt a little guilty defending this movie against it's detractors, but that hesitation is gone. This movie is much better than it's reputation and it was even better tonight than I had remembered. The image on the big screen really brings out the spectacular set design and the quality of the costuming. The music is impressive from the beginning and the work by rock veterans Toto, combined with a little added "spice" from Brian and Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois with the prophesy theme was extra special. Coming at us in full theater sized dolby stereo made it sound really impressive along with the sound design of the film which was the one category that the movie was acknowledged for by the Academy.

As I sat watching and listening to the film, I was surprised at how well the plot really did develop. I had thought before that it was somewhat clunky, relying on verbalized inner thoughts to hold things together. When I paid close attention, I think half of that dialogue could go away and the movie would still make sense and be a bit less obvious.  The villains do chew some scenery, but the visualizations and their maniacal gleams, remind you how awful the Harkonnens really are. The sequence with the Baron showering in who knows what effluent and then taking sexual pleasure in the murder of a frightened young man was very David Lynch and very disturbing. The rest of the cast succeeds because they were well chosen and played their parts with a bit more subtlety. I especially appreciated Jürgen Prochnow as the doomed Duke Leto. He has some lines that end up resonating bigger themes in the story and if you listen to them, he sounds both sad and inspiring.

I can't say enough about the look of the film, it was just as amazing as I always thought it was. With the exception of some of the spacecraft shots and one or two scenes with the sandworms, these effects can stand up to scrutiny and outclass a lot of the CGI junk that gets foisted on us nowadays. One bit of collectible ephemera I neglected to share in the post on "30 Years On", was the standee for the VHS release that I snagged from the Music Plus store back in 1985. Here it is in the back patio room where it has sat since we moved in to this house 21 years ago. That's a three dimensional display with the foreground figures on one section and the background on another.

There was a fair sized crowd at the theater, "The Sherman Oaks Arclight". Since this is probably a big nostalgia piece for any of you reading, the "Arclight" in the valley is located at the site of the old Sherman Oaks Galleria. You know, the mall featured in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Valley Girl". It is now an outdoor shopping area with a few upscale stores and a few stylish eateries. For an 80's classic like "Dune", it was fun to think about as we walked from the parking structure.

Wearing my "Visit Scenic Arrakis" shirt, designed by my daughter, and sitting with my favorite person in the world.


Eric F. said...

It's a shame that most audiences and most critics were either too unintelligent or too impatient to embrace David Lynch's artistry behind this work at the time of its release. Film history can say what it wants, but DUNE is one of the most high-concept intelligent science fiction films of all time.

Richard Kirkham said...

I mentioned to another blogging friend that it reminds me of Blade Runner, the tone of the movie was not what people expected. The film looked great and sounded even better. In the lobby after the screening, I overheard a couple of cinema hipsters talking about it, one of them had not ever seen it before and he was blown away by how forward it was. Lynch was the right director, audiences were expecting "Star Wars" and they got Throne of Blood instead.As always Eric, thanks for coming by.

SJHoneywell said...

I used to consider Dune a guilty pleasure. In the last few years, I've gotten rid of the "guilty" part of that phrase. I like this film without any shame.

I think it helps a lot to know the source material. I've read the book at least half a dozen times, which makes the film work for me very well.

In the '90s and well into the early part of the 2000s, Westwood Studios made a series of real-time computer/video strategy games based on the Dune mythos. A lot of the visual look of the games was based on this film. Since I worked on parts of a couple of those projects, it's just another connection that makes me appreciate the film all the more.

Richard Kirkham said...

Steve, so glad you have dropped the "guilty" adjective, enjoy this movie proudly. If you read the books it is easy to make the movie translate for you. It's cool that you have a connection also. I've never been a gamer of any type, but the visuals in this film are solid (with a couple of minor exception). The overall "look" of the film seems like it would fit well for a computer game. Thanks for sharing that with me.

Joseph Sheldahl said...

Love this movie. So glad you've fully embraced it.

Richard Kirkham said...

Joseph, if you go to the 30 Years On link, you will see some true love. Thanks for your comments.