Behind the scenes of David Lynch’s disowned science-fiction film ‘Dune’ from 1984
Dune may not be the first film you think of when discussing the incredible director David Lynch. Your mind would naturally jump to Eraserhead or Twin Peaks, but a lot is to be said of the 1984 science-fiction film.
The film, written and directed by David Lynch, is based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. Starring Kyle MacLachlan as young nobleman Paul Atreides, with an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles. It was filmed in Mexico City and included an epic soundtrack by the rock band Toto, of ‘Africa’ fame, as well as the enigmatic genius Brian Eno.
Like with most sci-fi pictures, the film is set in the distant future, detailing the conflict between rival noble families as they battle for control of the desert planet Arrakis, also known as “Dune”. The planet is the only source of the drug melange which is also called “the spice” and is essential for space travel.
It’s an interesting film, to say the least, if only for the controversy which followed it. The film was a critical and box-office flop, only taking $30.9 million from a $40 million budget. Lynch went on to distance himself from the project claiming that pressure from the producers and financiers stopped his process, even denying him the final cut on the film. With other major offers on the table at the time, in retrospect, Lynch accepted that making Dune was a mistake: “I started selling out on Dune. Looking back, it’s no one’s fault but my own,” he once said. “I probably shouldn’t have done that picture, but I saw tons and tons of possibilities for things I loved, and this was the structure to do them in.”
He added: “There was so much room to create a world. But I got strong indications from Raffaella and Dino De Laurentiis of what kind of film they expected, and I knew I didn’t have final cut.”
At least three versions have been released worldwide. In some cuts, Lynch’s name is replaced in the credits with the name Alan Smithee, a pseudonym used by directors who wish not to be associated with a film for which they would normally be credited.
The behind the scenes photos of Dune though offer a really interesting view of the film which has now become a cult classic. Finding itself on the shelf next to Lynch’s great titles, Dune still deserves its time in the spotlight.