Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DUNE (David Lynch, 1984, USA) In a universe of addicts, Paul Atreides becomes Messiah, living a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom, a flesh and blood godhead seeking righteous vengeance and control of the ubiquitous spice melange. Director David Lynch has diluted the pure essence of Frank Herbert’s Magnum Opus, watered down the narrative power of this intense infernal conflict and created a mirage that shimmers with vaporous substance. This epic failure is not without its merits: Lynch’s unique imagery is prevalent in nearly every frame with grand set designs, surreal and prescience flash-forwards revealing characters and events, a disease-ridden Vladimir Harkonnen (looking similar to Joseph Merrick) and the Mugwump inspired Guild Navigator floating in his melange prison. He begins the film with Princess Irulan’s exposition, a dire forewarning that this complex plot will become a sandstorm of dialogue. The film’s structure collapses under its own convoluted and self-important weight, never able to focus on one character or create empathetic contact. The characters spout inane speeches with utmost zeal while taking little action, which grinds this celluloid machinery to a screeching halt: this verges on unintentional camp and delivers a few unlikely chuckles and snickers. Kyle MacLachlan is miscast as the young heir offering a cold and emotionless performance, with his 80’s hairdo never out of place. The Toto guitar score is annoyingly juxtaposed with key moments such as Paul’s first sandworm ride. The film touches upon specific plot points without really understanding them and completely severs the anti-religious element: a cruel cinematic sacrifice for a two-hour run time. Though visually magnificent at times, cheap special effects lull the viewer into a spice dream: it doesn’t require melange foresight to see the impending boredom. A grand failure, DUNE should remain buried in the sands of time, to be unearthed only by true David Lynch acolytes. (D)

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