Film review: ‘Dune’ (1984)


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Lighted theater marquee at night.

Quade Evans, Lifestyle writer

When news got out about the recent “Dune” adaptation, moviegoers were beyond hyped. Fans of Frank Herbert’s epic novel couldn’t wait to see the plot unfold on the big screen. However, many people are unaware that there’s another “Dune” adaptation that was released in 1984. 

The original  film is sort of hard to find nowadays, but it’s still available on DVD. The entire two hours and 17 minutes was disappointing, yet kind of charming. Make no mistake, it’s become obscure for a reason, but it’s still worth discussing as a film.

The film already manages to get off to a bit of a clunky start with its pacing, adapting the book at a dizzying speed, but yet it still manages to feel boring. Shifting perspectives, unexplored characters and genuinely confusing dialogue make it hard for people to follow, especially if viewers came in without a clear picture of what the source material is.

Another strike against this movie would be that a good portion of this movie is genuinely a slog to get through. The dialogue is poorly written and leads to helplessly bland deliveries. It doesn’t help that a very dull yellow filter is placed over the camera to help sell the desert vibe that is prevalent throughout the book but only ends up actively taking away immersion from the film.

However, one thing 1984’s “Dune” did, in fact, have going for it was a stacked cast for the time. With Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides and great actors like Mary Sean Young and Sir Patrick Stewart as Chani and Gurney Halleck, respectively. It’s easy to tell that some of the actors do want to give a good performance as their characters, but their ability seems to be hindered by the poor direction, and as a result, never really blossom into their respective roles.

MacLachlan definitely tries to play his role as Paul Atreides, and he actually manages to capture the ambitious side of him, but later in the film the issues stated earlier start to compound, severely harming the character.

In the grand scheme of things, 1984’s “Dune” will probably be forgotten as newer adaptations come out, but it’s nice to remember the steps we took to get a good adaptation.