1984. 137 minutes. PG-13
This is one of the best sci-fi films ever made (not named Wars or Trek). I got lots of feedback from friends about this one in the last few days, as it seems everybody has an opinion about the symbolism and meaning of things in Dune. The only way to truly be fair, is to absolutely ignore all of you (especially you, Jen).
Dune is set in the year 10,191, in a time when the power of man and of planets is controlled by “The Spice” or The Melange. The Spice is a drug that adds years to one’s life, and increases abilities and awareness. The Spice can also aid in interstellar space travel. It’s super addictive (like drugs) and if you stop using, it can kill you (like drugs). All right, do we get it? Spice is a drug.
So, a quick overview of the Universe now (the part that matters anyways):
Do I need to lay this out? Arakis is where the spice is. Caladan is where the good guys (Atreidies) are. Giedi Prime is where the bad guys (Harkonnen) are. Kaitain is where the Emperor is, and at the begining of the film, we realize that he is starting to turn into a nervous nelly.
The emperor is getting worried about Duke Leto Atreides, who is the big boss on Caladan. He’s pretty cool and he’s getting pretty popular. Emperor no like this; you see, he’s afraid of a take over and such. Let’s see… so the plan is to commission the Atreides to become the new miners of the Spice on Arrakis, expecting that they will get all pumped up about being so close to the Spice, then have the Harkonnens ambush them and gain some of their own power, as well as some new territories surrendered by the Emperor. Still with me? So, that’s the plan.
The Duke has a son named Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) who is a bit of a prophecy, and essentially the only character we really care about (again… ignoring Jen and her love for Duncan, who occupies about 11 seconds worth of screen time). See, the Duke had this concubine (never thought that word was gonna land on TBBC) and she was instructed to never give birth to a son, only daughters, in the hopes that the daughter could be wed to a Harkonnen, thus bringing the houses together and completing a century long breeding project to produce the superhuman Kwisatz Haderach (what a name, right?).
In any case, I have so much ground to cover that I’m unable to simply explain away the whole plot. I’ll tie it up. Paul Atrides is awesome, and does tons of awesome things. Rises to power and impresses everyone, except the fat ugly bad guys who he kills. Err… Sting is one of them, he is hot and not ugly, but you already new that (JEN). While he delivers on his lines, they are just that…lines, not even scenes. He isn’t to central a character in the film, stronger in the book etc.
1. Interesting stuff
Crap Sci-Fi movies are a dime a dozen. They always were, and they always will be. I’ll be clear and state that Sci-Fi is possibly my favorite genre of them all, but for every five good ones, there are fifty that suck.
This is one of the five, though. It’s got tons of different Sci-Fi ideas that I haven’t seen in every other movie.
A few I liked:
- The Freman Suit
This awesome suit is to wear on Arrakis. Arrakis is a desert world, remember, and it gets NO precipitation at all. You put on this awesome suit, though, with catch pockets for the moisture that evaporates off your body. They say that you’ll pretty quickly die on Arrakis without water and moisture, but if you have a Freman Suit on… you can last days, and even weeks, out in the elements. Imagine if this existed in real life? Awesome.
- The Dogs
Dogs are all over the place in this movie. Nobody talks about them ever. No one explains why our (Earth Pets) are all over all these planets and alternate planes of existence. I don’t wanna hear any crap about how the book explains it either. If it was an important detail then it should have made it into the movie. Don’t get me wrong. I like this addition to Dune…because it makes no sense.
- The Inner Voice
Everyone has an inner voice and none of them can hear each other. Basically just everyone thinks thoughts to themselves (per usual), but for some reason, we hear them all. It’s almost like they use the force to communicate with each other, but they are only internalizing information, not sharing it. I like this also…because it makes no sense.
Dune is a movie that can be seen as an influence for others, almost without trying. Notably Star Trek Films, Highlander, The Matrix, just about any movie with time travel. Check out the musical influences, too. From Fatboy Slim to Iron Maiden. Bands all over the world have mentioned Dune in songs. The biggest and most incredible influence deserves its whole entire section, though. It’s Star Wars.
3. Star Wars
It can always be pointed out that the Dune BOOK came out before both Trek and Wars, and George Lucas has said on countless occasions that Dune inspired him incredibly. He beat them to the punch on making films, and thus people forget and think Dune was inspired by Star Wars. It wasn’t. Star Wars was inspired by Dune. Here are a handful of things to take for face value:
|Princess Leia||Princess Alia (pronounced a-leia)|
|Villain turns out to be hero’s father||Villain turns out to be hero’s grandfather|
|Tatooine, a desert planet||Arrakis (Dune), a desert planet|
|Sandcrawler – Vehicle piloted by Jawas, “left over from a forgotten mining era long ago”||Sandcrawler – Vehicle piloted by Arrakins, used to mine for spice|
|Moisture Farmers (like Uncle Owen)||Dew Collectors: “…used by Fremen to line concave planting depressions where they provide a small but reliable source of water”|
|Spice Mines of Kessel (mentioned in passing)||Spice is the most valued commodity in the universe, mined from Dune|
|Jedi Mind Trick – Jedi ability which controls the actions of others||The Voice – Bene Gesserit ability which controls the actions of others|
|Jedi Bendu, the Jedi training technique which gives them excellent internal control as well as supernatural prowess in combat||Prana Bindu, the Bene Gesserit training technique which gives them excellent internal control as well as supernatural prowess in combat2|
|Vision of Obi-Wan appears to Luke on Hoth, while he’s seemingly dying||Vision of Pardot Kynes appears to Liet-Kynes in the desert, while he’s dying|
|The Trade Federation has a monopoly on shipping in space||The Spacing Guild has a monopoly on shipping and transportation in space|
|Luke practices his lightsaber technique against an automated training remote||Alia practices her sword technique against an automated training dummy|
|Millennium Falcon barely escapes from the jaws of giant, sightless space slug before it falls back into the asteroid||The Duke’s ornithopter barely escapes from the jaws of a giant, sightless sandworm before it falls back into the dunes|
|Luke spies on the Sandpeople using electrobinoculars||Paul spies on the Fremen using electric binoculars|
|Repulsors – Small devices which counteract gravity (used in the landspeeder, speeder bikes, pod racers and Jabba’s barge)||Suspensors – Small devices which counteract gravity (used to suspend the Baron Harkonnen and Glowglobes)|
|Jabba (1983) is a worm/slug thing, about 15 feet long, with human-like facial features, arms and hands, who sits atop a dais||Leto II, God Emperor of Dune (1981), is a worm/slug thing, about 15 feet long, with human-like facial features, arms and hands, who sits atop a dais|
(end of The List)
Oh… and one more thing. I LOVE STAR WARS.
Now that being what it is… Anakin and Luke are whiney babies. I’ve always thought so. They never listen, they never learn, and basically any success on their part is either by sheer accident, or by the excellent company they tend to keep. The only profound things they ever pull off successfully are usually something that a better Jedi told them not to do, and has dark implications.
Duke Leto and Paul Atreidies are brave and strong, while being up against similarly strong adversaries as Anakin and Luke. They fight against adversity and succeed in ways that only underdog heroes can.
People underestimate Dune, and it’s CRAZY. Take it from me, the biggest Star Wars fan in the world: No Dune, no Star Wars.
PS – Coincidences?
While most all of the best acting in this film come from Kyle MacLachlan, a few other short performances stood out.
Patrick Stewart would crush his role in this movie and later become captain for the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek TNG.
Dean Stockwell would crush his role in this movie and later star in Quantum Leap, my favorite sci-fi show in history not named Star Trek.