Lynch has toiled to condense Frank Herbert's mammoth SF novel into two hours twenty: the life-and-death struggle between the Atreides and Harkonnens for the vital spice melange takes place on a third planet - Arrakis, the desert planet, home to the Fremen, dune dwellers with vivid blue eyes. Fremen legend tells of a messiah who will be able to drink the water of life, previous tasters having tried and died. That Paul Atreides (MacLachlan) knows how to fit his desert survival suit is taken as a promising early sign that now, perhaps, the time has come. Lynch's third feature may have been a commercial disaster, but it gets under your skin and is marked by unforgettable images and an extraordinary soundtrack. The sets and props - from steaming machinery to dimly lit interiors, via personal bug-juice extractors - are reminiscent of Eraserhead, and also recall Metropolis and Blade Runner. There's a ton of exposition, but consider the source material. The constant whispered thoughts may be expositionally expedient, but they also help to establish a much-needed intimacy in a film of this epic scale.
Cast and crew
Max von Sydow