Thirty-six years ago today, the film Dune premiered. I became interested in seeing it through Sting, only later to understand that David Lynch would become one of my very favorite film directors. You have to see this!
Directed by: David Lynch
Produced by: Raffaella De Laurentiis
Screenplay by: David Lynch
Based on: Dune by Frank Herbert
Starring: Francesca Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, José Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Silvana Mangano, Everett McGill, Kenneth McMillan, Jack Nance, Siân Phillips, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Smith, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Dean Stockwell, Max von Sydow, Alicia Roanne Witt, Sean Young
Music by: Toto, Brian Eno (Prophecy Theme)
Cinematography: Freddie Francis
Edited by: Antony Gibbs
Production: company, Dino De Laurentiis Corporation
Distributed by: Universal Studios
Release Date: December 14, 1984
Running time: 136 minutes
Budget: $40–42 million
Box office: $30.9–37.9 million
In the distant future, the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The most important substance in the empire is the drug known as melange or “the spice”, which can extend life and expand consciousness. The most profitable and important of its properties is its ability to assist the Spacing Guild with folding space, which allows safe, instantaneous interstellar travel. The Guild fears a conspiracy that could jeopardize spice production and sends an emissary to demand an explanation from the Emperor, who confidentially shares his plans to destroy House Atreides. The popularity of Duke Leto Atreides has grown through the empire, and he is suspected to be amassing a secret army, which Emperor Shaddam sees as a potential threat to his rule. Shaddam’s plan is to give House Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice. Once they are installed on Arrakis, he intends to have them ambushed by their longtime archenemies, the Harkonnens, with assistance from the Emperor’s elite troops, the Sardaukar. The Guild Navigator commands the Emperor to kill Duke Leto’s son, Paul Atreides, a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose. The execution order draws the attention of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, as Paul is tied to their centuries-long breeding program to produce a superbeing, the Kwisatz Haderach. Before Paul leaves for Arrakis, he is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Mohiam by being forced to place his hand in a box which induces excruciating pain. To Mohiam’s surprise and eventual satisfaction, he passes the test.
Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen tells his nephews Glossu Rabban and Feyd-Rautha about his plan to eliminate the Atreides by manipulating someone in House Atreides into betraying the Duke. The Atreides leave their homeworld Caladan for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms. The native people of Arrakis are called the Fremen, a mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah will lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Duke Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men, Duncan Idaho, that the Fremen have been underestimated. There are in fact large numbers of them and they could prove to be powerful allies. Duke Leto begins to gain the trust of the Fremen, but before an alliance can be established, the Harkonnens launch their attack. The Harkonnens’ traitor within House Atreides, Dr. Wellington Yueh, Leto’s personal physician, disables critical shields and destroys sonic weapons, leaving House Atreides nearly defenseless. In the attack, Idaho is killed, Leto is captured, and nearly all of House Atreides is wiped out. While captured, Leto dies in a failed attempt to assassinate the Baron Harkonnen using a poison gas capsule planted in his tooth by Dr. Yueh. Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica and his son Paul survive the attack and escape into the deep desert, where they are taken in by a sietch of Fremen. Paul takes on the Fremen name Muad’Dib, and emerges as the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting. He teaches the Fremen to build and use Weirding Modules—sonic weapons developed by House Atreides—and begins to target spice mining production.
Over the next two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Spacing Guild warns the Emperor of the deteriorating situation on Arrakis, and they fear that Paul will consume the Water of Life, a powerful poison used by the Bene Gesserit to help induce their abilities. The meeting is revealed to Paul in a prophetic dream, but then the dreams suddenly stop. Shaken by the absence of his visions, he goes out into the desert, drinks the Water of Life and enters into a trance. Upon awakening, he is transformed, obtaining powerful psychic abilities and the ability to control the sandworms. Paul also regains his ability to see into space and the future, and learns the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to wipe out the Fremen and regain control of the planet. As the Emperor arrives at Arrakis, Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor’s Sardaukar at the capital city of Arrakeen. Riding in on sandworms and brandishing their sonic weapons, his Fremen warriors easily defeat the Emperor’s legions, while Paul’s sister Alia kills Baron Harkonnen. Once in Arrakeen, Paul faces the defeated Emperor and engages Feyd-Rautha in a duel to the death. After killing Feyd, Paul demonstrates his newfound powers and fulfills the Fremen prophecy by causing rain to fall on Arrakis, and Alia declares him to be the Kwisatz Haderach.