“Dune”: Film review

When I first, as a child, watched this tale of inter-stellar politics, warfare, drug trade, mind-and-consciousness-expanding psychotropics, and outlawed and misunderstood indigenous peoples, it went totally over my head. I found it boring, annoying, and pointless. Everyone was whispering in their heads – was it telepathy or inner monologue? A huge annoying ugly guy was floating around with his skin bubbling off his face. Long meandering dialogue-free sequences alternated with impenetrable dialogue-heavy scenes. Yawn.
Multiple friends recently recommended “Jodorowksi’s Dune,” a documentary about the director who was originally commissioned to adapt Frank Herbert’s book for the screen, and I decided if I was going to watch that I’d better see “Dune” again first.
Some scenes are dated and don’t hold up well – the worm-riding sequence, for example. Other scenes lack the finesse of even earlier sci-fi films like 1968’s “2001: Space Odyssey” – reference the poor superimposition and colorless space ships traveling through folding-space. You can also tell there were time constraints at work, leading to many minutes being left on the cutting-room floor: some of the final moments in particular are jumpy and staccato.
Despite all this, the film is a hallucinogenic costume-drama masterpiece. In fact, set, costume, and jewelry design is so breathtaking that it probably carries much of the film’s weight.
You can’t help think the potential wasn’t quite lived up to, though, with the clumsy handling of the sound-weapons and strange martial arts; the all-too-brief appearance of the space-folding aliens; the hurried love story and the fractional appearance of the messianic sister seer.
But as soon as you put a pug into a sci-fi film, you’ve already raised the bar.

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