Fine Art Tuesday

Dune. Arrakis. Desert planet.

Those are the thoughts of ducal heir Paul Atreides as he ponders on his family’s move from his home world of Caladan to Arrakis, as commanded by the Emperor of the Known Universe, Shaddam IV. Feel a little lost? You’re probably in good company, as many viewers of David Lynch’s 1984 epic, Dune, were on their first viewing. Possibly the second and third as well.

While this is one of my favorite SF movies of all time, I have to admit that the movie is rather impenetrable to someone who hasn’t read Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from which the movie is derived. I’ve had to watch it with friends, pausing the playback and explaining background, what’s happening on the screen and what was left out in order to keep the movie at it’s rather lengthy runtime of 137 minutes.

As a movie, it was a box office flop, grossing about $31 million on a $40 million budget in the US. While it had been eagerly awaited by SF fans and was well attended by those fans (I was at a local theater on opening weekend and it was an experience), it was savaged by critics and not a few fans as well.

I thought it was great, although I have to admit the first time I saw it I left humming the scenery. 80 sets, 16 sound stages and a host of veteran design professionals and design houses created an incredibly detailed setting for the story in the days before the widespread use of CGI. As a design aside, the garments used by the Spacing Guild lower-ranking members were made of body bags found in an abandoned firehouse. Used body bags. The actors weren’t told this important detail until filming had wrapped.

To this day, director Lynch does not want to be associated with his famous flop or Dune, period. He has even said he has no interest in the newest version of the story, due out in a few days here. Mrs. Freeholder and I plan on attending this weekend. All 155 minutes of it.

Yes, the new one is even longer than it’s predecessor, and is supposed to be first of several. Let’s hope that it doesn’t time out (or work out for that matter) like Star Wars.

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