When it was released thirty years ago, David Lynch’s film version of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction novel Dune was almost unanimously reviled by critics. It was considered incomprehensible, boring, disjointed, cold, and the special effects were cheap and nasty. When I saw it the following year, I couldn’t understand the enmity. I liked David Lynch as a filmmaker, and thought Dune was an intelligent, well-made and thoroughly engaging film. Lynch’s vision (via author Herbert) was not the clean, pristine, plastic, over-lit world of Star Wars, it was a gritty, darker and a far more believable construct than what Lucas had created with Skywalker and co.
I also think Lynch was was being overly harsh on himself when he said:
“I started selling out on Dune. Looking back, it’s no one’s fault but my own. 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. There was so much room to create a world. But I got strong indications from [producers] Raffaella and Dino De Laurentiis of what kind of film they expected, and I knew I didn’t have final cut.”
All employment involves some selling out, and the creative industries involve this more than most. However, Dune‘s Frank Herbert was more diplomatic:
“I enjoyed the film even as a cut and I told it as I saw it: What reached the screen is a visual feast that begins as Dune begins and you hear my dialogue all through it.”
Unlike some behind the scenes photos where actors pose on set and directors smile for camera, these pictures from the making of Dune give a good idea of the intense work cast and crew go through in the making of a movie.