Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Dune” by David Lynch. The reviewers had no mercy for her

The idea of ​​adapting “Dune” appeared shortly after the premiere of Herbert’s book in 1965. Artur P. Jacobs, who had previously produced Franklin J. Schaffner’s “Planet of the Apes”, purchased the rights to it in 1971 and committed to making the film within nine years. The director was supposed to be David Lean, the creator of “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Lawrence”.’from Arabia”. The plans were thwarted by Jacobs’ unexpected death in 1973.

Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to adapt it. The Chilean author of “The Holy Mountain” began collaborating with renowned visual artists, including HR Giger. The bands Pink Floyd and Magma would be responsible for the music. The storyboards were created by renowned French cartoonist Jean “Moebius” Giraud. Over three thousand illustrations were created for the production.

Jodorowsky also had his cast selected. He wanted Salvador Dali to play Emperor Shadam IV. The artist then said that he would become the highest-paid actor in history, so he demanded one hundred thousand dollars for each hour of work on the set. The director agreed and made changes to the script, significantly limiting the emperor’s role. As a result, Dali would have to spend up to an hour on set, and his remaining lines would be spoken by a robot.

It soon turned out that “Dune” Jodorowsky’ego would last from 10 to even 14 hours. Herbert recalled that the script was as thick as a telephone book. It quickly became clear that the creators were unable to meet the budget – they were about five million dollars short. The project eventually failed. The work done during pre-production later inspired other science fiction classics, including “Star Wars”, “Alien” and “Terminator”. The 2013 documentary “Jodorowski’s Dune” by Frank Pavich was devoted to the process of making the film.

Then the adaptation rights went to the Italian producer Din De Laurentiis. He asked Herbert himself to write the script. The writer wrapped the plot in almost 180 pages, which equaled a three-hour film. Ridley Scott became the director. His first decision was to rewrite the script and divide “Dune” into two parts. Soon he, too, abandoned the project. He realized that it would be a time-consuming production, and he lost heart in it – his older brother Frank died unexpectedly.

Then Raffaella, De Laurentiis’ daughter, suggested that David Lynch take over the film. She was very impressed by his “The Elephant Man”. The producer immediately contacted him. Lynch was initially reluctant. He previously received an offer to direct “Return of the Jedi”. He rejected it because he was afraid that he would not have much influence on the artistic shape of the film. “George Lucas has already developed three-quarters of the production,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press in 1984. Although he was not a fan of science fiction, he saw many possibilities in “Dune”.

“When I finished the book, I was stunned,” he recalled in a 1985 interview with Cinefex. “Of course, I saw it ‘Star Wars’, but I’m not crazy about them. For me, there was a lot of surface stuff there, but nothing beyond that. ‘Dune’ she was different. She had believable character arcs and depth. In many ways, Herbert has created an inner adventure, full of emotions and layers. And I love layers.”

Lynch spent a week with Herbert, after which he wrote seven versions of the script. He spent half a year on it. “The version before this one was made was quite good,” said Paul Sammon, a film historian. De Laurentiis was sure he had an adult Star Wars movie on his hands. He paid Herbert immediately for the rights to all books in the series, including those not yet published. Virginia Madsen, who played Princess Irulan, the emperor’s daughter, revealed that she had signed a contract to appear in three films.

During interviews from the set, there was no indication of the coming disaster. “When David sees something that looks like ‘simply’, I want to change it soon. He hates everything that reminds him of him ‘Star Wars’ or any other movie. Then he comes up with strange ideas that seem to make no sense. And then we implement them and the meaning is found. That’s how Picasso did it,” said set designer Tony Masters in The New York Times.

Filming of Lynch’s “Dune” began in September 1983 in Mexico and lasted for half a year. The first edit took four hours. Lynch and the producers cut it almost in half, replacing some scenes with intrusive exposition. The film was scheduled to be released in December 1984. The premiere was preceded by a huge advertising campaign, which included interviews and gadgets related to the characters from the film.

And then the reviews came out. Critics agreed – they had just watched one of the worst films of the year. Everything happened. The plot was criticized for being confusing and completely incomprehensible to people who had not read the book before. Reviewers also pointed out that the film is visually ugly and some of its scenes are downright repulsive. Some people wrote directly – “Dune” is a book that cannot be adapted to the big screen. “The movie took nine minutes to rob me of all my expectations,” wrote Roger Ebert.

Jodorowsky initially did not want to watch Lynch’s film. He did not hide the fact that he was disappointed with his failure and jealous that someone else received a much larger budget to realize his dream. Encouraged by his sons, he saw the film. He started the session angry and ended very happy. He called the film a “failure.” He noted, however, that Lynch was the only other creator who could have achieved this. According to him, the producers were responsible for the final shape of “Dune”.

The artistic failure was also accompanied by a financial one. “Dune” grossed approximately $38 million on a budget of $42 million. Work on the sequels was immediately stopped. Years later, the film was released on television in an hour-long version. Lynch had nothing to do with the new edit and demanded his name be removed from it.

Nearly forty years after its premiere, “Dune” is considered an accident at work in Lynch’s career. It’s a failure he probably had to suffer to make sure what kind of cinema he wanted to make. The film itself quickly joined the ranks of “so bad it’s great” and today has cult status.