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Sean Young's super-8 footage of the making of Dune
May 5, 2010 12:12 AM   Subscribe

Dune, the motion picture was made in Mexico City, Mexico during the spring of 1983. I was there to witness David Lynch as the director and here's what really happened! (via)
posted by The Mouthchew (56 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't care what anyone says, Dune wasn't the worst movie ever. Of course, that one didn't the special omething Sting brought to Dune, and it did not disappoint a million fans of the book.
posted by Some1 at 12:21 AM on May 5, 2010


This is relevant to my interests.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:26 AM on May 5, 2010


I like the Lynch movie, despite its faults and vast differences from the book. It captured a lot of the spirit, I think, and come on, Patrick Stewart makes anything awesome. You just have to look at it as a separate though related creature from the book. And at least the Fremen showed some damn water discipline, unlike the later Sci-Fi mini.

Word of warning: a lot of people will tell you the much longer edit that Lynch took his name off is better. They're wrong. It does give a bit more exposition, but there's so many obviously reused shots it totally ruins the movie.
posted by kmz at 12:37 AM on May 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


Great find. I've seen the movie several times and each time I always think to myself "what an awesome cast!"

As much as I would have liked to have seen Jodorowsky 's or Ridley Scott's version, I still enjoy this one. ALthough the miniseries more closely follows the book, Dune '84 feels more "theatrical" (helped in no small part by the outstanding set design)- as if it were a retelling on a space stage of the legends in the first book by people who lived in the time after the reign of Leto II.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:41 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Patrick Stewart makes anything awesome. You just have to look at it as a separate though related creature from the book. And at least the Fremen showed some damn water discipline, unlike the later Sci-Fi mini.

Word of warning: a lot of people will tell you the much longer edit that Lynch took his name off is better. They're wrong. It does give a bit more exposition, but there's so many obviously reused shots it totally ruins the movie.


That's true, but in the extended cut you get like 20% more Patrick Stewart screen time!
posted by hamida2242 at 12:43 AM on May 5, 2010


"At a certain point ... David got scared and felt he was on a sinking ship."

The single most intelligent thing Sean Young has ever, ever said.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:55 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only if she meant "before filming even commenced"
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:01 AM on May 5, 2010


I dragged -- DRAGGED -- my friends to see this movie on opening night. I was the only one that had read the book.

"I don't know, Bell," they said. "Sting's hair looks kinda weird..."

"You guys, you don't understand," I said. "The book has giant worms, knife fights, space ships, magic powers, poison needles, force fields. It'll be like Star Wars, only better, because it's a really good book."

They handed out a glossary of terms at the door. Seriously.

"Bean Jeez-er-it? Maude dib? What the fuck is this, Bell?" they said.

"Oh dude, this is awesome!" I said. "This is all the stuff from the book!"

Three hours later, as the credits rolled in the darkness, they kicked the shit out of me.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:03 AM on May 5, 2010 [45 favorites]


The best Bad Dune was not made by Alejandro Jodorowsky:
Jodorowsky planned to film the story as a ten hour feature, in collaboration with Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Alain Delon, Hervé Villechaize and Mick Jagger. The music would be composed by Pink Floyd, Magma, Henry Cow and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Jodorowsky set up a pre-production unit in Paris consisting of Chris Foss, [...], Jean Giraud (Moebius) [...], and H. R. Giger. Moebius began designing creatures and characters for the film, while Foss was brought in to design the film's space ships and hardware. Giger began designing the Harkonnen Castle based on Moebius' storyboards, and Dali was cast as the Emperor with a reported salary of $100,000 an hour. His son Brontis Jodorowsky was to play Paul. Dan O'Bannon was to head the special effects department.
Doesn't just reading the almost credits make you blank out Lynch, Stewart, and Sting?
posted by CCBC at 1:05 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Count me amongst those who love Lynch's movie for it's capturing the spirit of the book.
posted by snwod at 1:09 AM on May 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't care what anyone says, Dune wasn't the worst movie ever. Of course, that one didn't the special omething Sting brought to Dune, and it did not disappoint a million fans of the book.
posted by Some1 at 8:21 AM on May 5 [+] [!]


I fixed that link for you Some1.
posted by jonnyploy at 1:15 AM on May 5, 2010


I always liked Sean Young, even when she kind of went, uh, 'out to the desert.' I mean, she did literally go out to the desert, but even the stuff she did/has done while out there I kind of like. She also, you know, made for a h-h-h-h-h-hot robot.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:20 AM on May 5, 2010


As much as I would have liked to have seen Jodorowsky 's or Ridley Scott's version, I still enjoy this one.

The thing is........


If Ridley Scott or Alejandro Jodorowsky had made Dune, we'd be sitting around today, saying, "Oh my God. Could you imagine? A David Lynch Dune. How mind-blowing would that be?"

Heh.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:24 AM on May 5, 2010 [23 favorites]


Ohhhhh that Mexico City.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:33 AM on May 5, 2010


I don't care what anyone says, Dune wasn't the worst movie ever. Of course, that one didn't have the special something Sting brought to Dune, and it did not disappoint a million fans of the book.
posted by Some1 at 8:21 AM on May 5 [+] [!]

I fixed that link for you Some1.
posted by jonnyploy at 1:15 AM on May 5 [+] [!]


I fixed that link for you, jonnyploy.
posted by Auden at 1:39 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


This was actually fun, interesting how people in theory in home in front of a camera are kinda awkward when presented with an ad lib role, so to speak.

Sigh, Sean Young. So lovely in Blade Runner.
posted by maxwelton at 2:37 AM on May 5, 2010


David Lynch is Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

So weird.

So weird.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:44 AM on May 5, 2010


I dunno, kmz. The first time I saw Dune I hadn't yet read the book, and the extended version that Channel 9 in NYC showed at 10 PM on a random Sunday actually formed a coherent, independent narrative. The original theatrical release made no damned sense at all if you hadn't read the book, which is as sure a sign of a failed film adaptation as I can think of.

Speaking of film adaptations, my own nomination for worst movie ever is Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which 16 years later is STILL the only film I've ever walked out of.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:54 AM on May 5, 2010


This is the wrong way to look at Mexico City. You throw one of the most vibrant, exciting places on the planet up against a film director. Fuck you, David Lynch. What you got? L.A.?
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:54 AM on May 5, 2010


The more I read about Jodorowsky, the more I think his version wouldn't have been any better than Lynch's. It would have been vastly different than the book and I don't think watching Salvador Dali taking a shit would make for a good film. But, hey, that's just my opinion.

I'm sure Ridley Scott would have made a great film, but with Giger still attached we would have been looking at giant cocks plunging into the ground instead of Sandworms. That is of course setting aside the idea they were implicit phallic references anyway.

I'm fine with what Lynch made. It sure is better than a lot of the stuff that is usually passed off as good sci-fi these days. Hell, I'll take a Lynch's dusty strange & anomalous Dune over Cameron's shiny trite & clichéd Avatar any day of the week. You can also take all three Star Wars prequels...please.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:25 AM on May 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ohhhhh that Mexico City.

I know, I'm sure glad she specified because I always thought it was shot in Mexico City, Ohio.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:41 AM on May 5, 2010


The closest experience I had to watching Dune was the experience I had watching Fight Club. It was a great great movie and then there is one scene which is catastrophically awful and it wrecks the rest of it no matter how great it could possibly be; even if the rest of the movie is the greatest ending ever that one scene has just wrecked it.

For Fight Club it was the guys chanting "his name was Robert Paulson."

For Dune it was when Baron Harkonen's medical apparatus went berzerk and he went flying through the room.

Those movies were great. And then yuck. David Lynch has made some great movies but I don't think Dune was even good.
posted by bukvich at 4:48 AM on May 5, 2010


That shot of Aldo Ray is going to take a lot of the fun out of the quart of vodka I drink today.
posted by digsrus at 4:49 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dragged my (future) wife to the opening night of this film. We had been at this really good party, my wife was having a lot of fun and wanted to stay, but I reminded her it was the opening night of DUNE and we WERE going to be there.

Three hours later, as the credits rolled in the darkness, she kicked the shit out of me.
posted by Danf at 5:32 AM on May 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


I knew I had heard the name Sean Young before, but I couldn't place it. Then it finally hit me—this is the woman who got drunk and heckled Julian Schnabel (of all people) at the Directors Guild of America awards a few years ago. Then I realized she played Lois Einhorn and everything came together.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 5:49 AM on May 5, 2010


Dune '84 feels more "theatrical" (helped in no small part by the outstanding set design)- as if it were a retelling on a space stage of the legends in the first book by people who lived in the time after the reign of Leto II.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:41 AM on May 5


This is a great approach. At last I can reconcile my fondness for the film with my fondness for the book - Lynch's Dune is to Herbert's Dune what Shakespeare's Richard III is to actual Richard III. Thanks hamida.

And thanks The Mouthchew for a great post.
posted by WPW at 6:04 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure Ridley Scott would have made a great film, but with Giger still attached we would have been looking at giant cocks plunging into the ground instead of Sandworms.

You say this as if it were a bad thing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:05 AM on May 5, 2010


I enjoyed this. I would have enjoyed it whether I'd seen Dune or not.

Great behind-the-scenes footage, especially as it humanizes the actors and reminds us of just how many people it takes to make a film.

Including poor old Aldo Ray put a little "dark side of Hollywood" into the mix as well.

Gosh, aren't people pretty when they're young?

Awesome post, The Mouthchew. Thanks for making my morning more interesting.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:12 AM on May 5, 2010


Sigh, I had such high hopes for that movie because the book was so great. Well, at least I got to see this.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:12 AM on May 5, 2010


This was an incredibly prescient thing to record for posterity. Go! hot smart girl!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:18 AM on May 5, 2010


"Sean Young's Super 8 footage..."

I came to this thread for something completely different.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:18 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I fucking loved that movie. Still do.

Longer edit is awful. Avoid.
posted by Artw at 6:21 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw Lynch's Dune as a kid without reading the book. I really enjoyed it and had no trouble following it at all. When i first heard that it was widely viewed as confusing, I was surprised.
posted by brundlefly at 6:31 AM on May 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


via Waxxy, the fanedit version. I have no idea if it's any good (obvs.) but it's definitely worth a gander.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:33 AM on May 5, 2010


This was great, if only to revisit all those great actors - Lynch is a master at casting, not to mention his filmmaking team.
posted by uni verse at 7:06 AM on May 5, 2010


I had such high hopes for that movie because the book was so great. Well, at least I got to see this.

Us straights didn't even get that. We had to wait for the miniseries with Barbora Kodetova.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:14 AM on May 5, 2010


I seem to have more company in appreciating Lynch's Dune post-miniseries. It really does make you appreciate what he did with it, rather than focusing on what he missed.

Been putting off the extended cut for awhile now.

there's so many obviously reused shots it totally ruins the movie

I don't know. If I can ignore it in Das Boot, I can ignore it anywhere.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:16 AM on May 5, 2010


I watched the new Blu-Ray of Dune two nights ago, and it's still after all these years heartbreakingly awful. The failure is 100%* because of the script. Sets = awesome, costumes = awesome, casting = great, some great images from Lynch. But he lacked the writing skill and perhaps permission to do what needed to be done to make a coherent story in under two and a half hours.

The model, in my mind, for adapting an unwieldy book is L.A. Confidential. Sure, that book doesn't have the cultists who would shit themselves if you weren't faithful, but hint to artists: fuck those people anyway, they suck. Brian Helgeland essentially took the major characters of the book, a handful of the essential scenes, and the theme of the book and then totally rewrote the story in a way that stayed true to the tone of the book while resembling the storyline not at all. If the alternative is clumsy voiceovers and even more clumsy exposition, you got to cowpoke up and do what needs to be done. (Seriously, the first ten minutes of Dune is nothing but ham-handed exposition).

I'm not even sure where you'd begin, other than with the language. I love the language of Dune, but if you're trying to tell a story as economically as possible, you might need to change "Lansraad" to "Universal Senate" and go ahead and use the word "vendetta" instead of "kanly." You probably ought to lose Duncan Idaho, whose contribution to the first book is minimal. Fuck, if the love story with Chani is going to end up as a voiceover of "and Paul and Chani's love bloomed," then its not important to the story, cut it.

*okay, more like 99%. One percent of the failure has to go to Lynch's apparent total inability to choreograph battle scenes. Go rewatch the Harkonen's invasion of Arakeen: all the Harkonen troops do is toss soldiers like pro wrestlers; it is hilarious.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:25 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


all the Harkonen troops do is toss soldiers like pro wrestlers

It was shot in Mexico, where do you think they got the extras and fight choreographers?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:32 AM on May 5, 2010


For Fight Club it was the guys chanting "his name was Robert Paulson."

That, to me, was one of the best parts. Because it showed how cultish "movements" can start by the followers misinterpreting a leader who is himself flawed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:01 AM on May 5, 2010


Still love that movie, was watching it on Netflix over the weekend. Stayed up to watch it while my wife went to sleep. The cat hadn't seen it before and he definitely approved; he kept trying to bat the sandworms.
posted by arcticseal at 9:21 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dune does seem to inspire stronger reactions than other bad movies.

For reasons I can't really explain now, I dragged my friends to see Tank Girl.

Come on, I said, this will be awesome!

Three hours later, as the credits rolled in the darkness, they shrugged and decided I wasn't allowed to pick movies anymore.
posted by Naberius at 9:42 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brian Helgeland essentially took the major characters of the book, a handful of the essential scenes, and the theme of the book and then totally rewrote the story in a way that stayed true to the tone of the book while resembling the storyline not at all.

This is true of Master & Commander as well. You always read that the movie was based on the plots of two of the books, but it's so very much not really. There are familiar elements, certainly, but the story can't be tracked to any one or two of the 20 novels. On the other hand, re-reading the novels after seeing the movie, I was struck by finding specific bits of dialogue that had made it into the movie from at least 6 or 7 of the books--clearly the screenwriter really did his homework, and understood, more than, "OK, this is the story," what fans of the books find to love in them, and somehow translated that very effectively to the screen in what is in some ways a very unfaithful film. (There are also little throw-away bits, like Maturin saying, "The French have their spies...as do we." that feel like nods to fans of the books for things that couldn't make it into the movie, like the fact that Maturin is himself a spy.)

Emma Thompson did something similar with her screenplay for Sense & Sensibility. The basic plot is the same, but again, re-reading the book after seeing the movie, I was struck by all the liberties she took with it, especially with the character of Edward. And yet, watching the film, it felt tremendously faithful.

There's something, some insight, there about what makes a movie faithful to a book, and sometimes it's understanding movie-making and what is effective there, and maybe loving the book enough to understand that, say, plot points that can be ticked off 1, 2, 3 are less important than tone, or atmosphere, or the relationship between two characters. Maybe misunderstanding that is why it seems like so many times in my life I've walked out of a theater saying, "How can a movie be so faithful to a great book, yet suck so bad?"
posted by not that girl at 9:54 AM on May 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Had me at "Sean Young" and "Super-8"
Lost me at "Dune"

The video game was fun!
posted by Kskomsvold at 9:57 AM on May 5, 2010


I adore this movie,warts and all.
If you've never read "David Lynch Keeps His Head" by David Foster Wallace*, which he wrote while Lynch was filming "Lost Highway," I would highly recommend it for the "Dune" discussion:

Watching Dune again on video, you can see that some of its defects are clearly Lynch's responsibility: casting the nerdy and potatofaced young Kyle MacLachlan as an epic hero and the Police's unthespian Sting as a psycho villain for example, or – worse – trying to provide plot exposition by having characters' thoughts audibilized on the soundtrack while the camera zooms in on the character making a thinking face. The overall result is a movie that's funny while it's trying to be deadly serious, which is as good a definition of a flop there is, and Dune was indeed a huge, pretentious, incoherent flop. But a good part of the incoherence is the responsibility of the De Laurentiis producers, who cut thousands of feet of film out of Lynch's final print right before the movie's release. Even on video, it's not hard to see where these cuts were made; the movie looks gutted, unintentionally surreal.

*sniff.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:43 AM on May 5, 2010


Wait, Tank Girl WAS awesome.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 10:49 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Huh. I really like Lynch's Dune. It's weird and overly serious and funny and beautiful and just barely comprehensible enough. I haven't read the books, and I have no intention of ever reading them, because I think it would ruin the movie for me. And Kyle McLachlan is perfect as an epic hero.
posted by The World Famous at 11:10 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cameron's shiny trite & clichéd Avatar

Avatar will be remembered forever as the most profitable troll of our time.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:28 PM on May 5, 2010


Kyle McLachlan is perfect as an epic hero.

He was perfect.

Nowadays, he could be re-cast as the Shadout Mapes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:36 PM on May 5, 2010


Is there more footage that this is leading up to? Or is it just "hey this is the cast and this is Lynch being sad"? Not that it's disappointing, I'm always happy to see 1980's-Sting and his muscles, just seems like this is part of something more.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 12:43 PM on May 5, 2010


According to Young (uploader comment), "there is about half an hour more footage". No word on on content.
posted by The Mouthchew at 1:16 PM on May 5, 2010


It's never been adequately explained to me, and I have not been able to decide for myself - was Dune so bad because it was insufficiently Lynchian, or was it too much so? Or was it because it was half-Lynchian, and half a Lynch and half Hollywood is like mixing Pepsi and milk? Either one would be good, but both together, yuck.

In any case, I thought David Lynch would be a good choice to visualize Dune - so much of the story is ridiculously arcane, over the top meta-sci-fi, which seems to me to be a great fit for Lynch.

Which brings me back to certain elements of Dune. Who in the fuck thought a professional zit picking theme for Baron Harkonnen would be a good idea? Really? Was that Lynch, or some dumbass producer? Whoever it was, I want to punch them in the throat.
posted by Xoebe at 1:26 PM on May 5, 2010


Don't miss the 23rd Anniversary Re-Edition.
posted by Evilspork at 3:24 PM on May 5, 2010


It's never been adequately explained to me, and I have not been able to decide for myself - was Dune so bad because it was insufficiently Lynchian, or was it too much so?

My take is that it's exactly what you fear -- half Lynch and half Hollywood. Lynch didn't really have his professional legs under him, so he started earnestly spending his mega budget on effects and production design, and didn't realize that it all was starting to look slapped together and incomprehensible.

Also, I think the project was simultaneously too ambitious and much too stuck on the source material. For example, the movie contains a long scene with a Spacing Guild navigator that is ultimately pointless. We don't need to specifically see this weird-ass creature in a 15-minute, throwaway sequence to understand that spice makes space travel possible. You could have saved $1 million, easy, by simplifying that presentation alone.

Another example -- mentats. Who cares? IIRC, there are two of them shown in the movie, again with throwaway explanations. I would cut these characters completely to put more focus on other secondary characters of greater importance (e.g. Patrick Stewart as a good guy, Sting as a bad guy).
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:19 PM on May 5, 2010


I enjoyed this movie before I read the book. Now I just see all the wasted potential. That is what gets me, they actually came close, but settled for big eyebrows, second-hand nazi uniforms and the old lynch stand-by of gross-out scenes as a substitute for depth.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:59 AM on May 6, 2010


oh hi Cool Papa Bell: You know all those 'ultimately pointless' Spacing Guild Navigator sequences, and the mentat stuff in the movie... well, that was just a big shout-out to The Dune Encyclopedia!
posted by ovvl at 7:09 PM on May 6, 2010


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