top of page
  • Writer's pictureJulian Ramirez

Let's Get Physical: Dune (1984)

Our writer Julian Ramirez is a big proponent of physical media, always lauding formats new and old (mostly old nowadays). Whether is vinyl, cassettes or CDs; 4k UHD, Blu-ray, or VHS, he believes that physical media is an important part of preserving art and imbues another dimension of appreciating the work.  This series will focus on some of his favorite pieces of physical media in his collection.

We're a few weeks removed from the opening of Dune Part Two and it completely blowing everyone's minds. The film is such a great adaptation, infusing Frank Herbert's complex and disastrous world with Denis Villeneuve's streamlined vision. I'm sure there are a lot of detractors from Villeneuve's authoritarian and borderline sterile directing vision, but I'm pretty satisfied with the result. But for those seeking out something a little more..."faithful" and out right weird, there are other adaptions of Herbert's opus. You can track down the Sci-Fi channel's Frank Herbert's Dune, maybe dive into the documentary of what could have been in Jodorowsky's Dune (or the eventual place where these ideas resided in The Incal), but today we're getting hit in the face with a lemon wrapped around a golden brick (oops, wrong sci-fi epic reference) with David Lynch's Dune.

David Lynch's Dune gets the full 4K Arrow set work up. The collection is massive and filled with all the goodies you've come to expect from one of their releases. The film in both 1080p and 4K presentations give you a fantastic look at all the borderline insane visuals and a stacked list of featurettes and documenteries. Outside the discs there is a double sided poster of some incredible art, miniature lobby cards depicting scenes from the film, and a booklet that may be the star of the non-video extras. The booklet features essays give great insight into the long life the film has come to have, the sound which is utterly incredible as it usually is in Lynch's films , and a a copy of the original Dune Terminology sheet that was distributed wit h the original release of the film to help those unfamiliar with all the Frank Herbert Dune-isms.

Now, let's not get it twisted, David Lynch's Dune is not "traditionally" "good". It unfortunately ventures into the so bad it's good territory. There's a few reasons for that. Firstly is that Lynch is undeniably a creator who exists in his own world. Meaning his work is so unconditionally his that it can be difficult to grasp if your not prepared for it. Look at other very distinct film makers like Wes Anderson and Yorgos Lanthimos. You cannot watch one of their films and not be immediately struck by how their characters speak, act, move, etc. They are of their own dimension, fully immersed in something that may seem fair but is fairly alien. Such is the case with Lynch and when you try to attribute that wholehearted style to something that doesn't align with it, you get some pretty startling cognitive dissonance.

Secondly, Dune is massive. The Sci-Fi channel had their hearts in the right place with a miniseries length runtime to give the book it's due. Villeneuve split the film across two movies with a total runtime of 5 hours. Even Lynch wanted his film to be a 4+ hour epic, but studio needs requested a 2.5 hour long film. Even with a budget of $40 million (which at the time was insane), it still did not make up for a shoddily cut film.

Dune is a product of it's time in every way possible. With its massive budget there are moments when the film looks utterly beautiful. Strange and detailed costumes, sets that look ornate and full of history, and special effects that let you get lost in their unnaturalness. But its a double edged sword as some costumes look like literal trash bags, some set flimsy and disorderly, and the body shields are quite frankly terrible even for the time.

But what's good about the film rises high above the bad. The overall look of the sets and costumes are astonishing and so fully realized. Miniatures are used with perfect precision and give the film an epic look. The themes of identity, fate, and other of Lynch's obsessions are shown in full force. The film is filled with so many ideas that would permeate throughout his entire filmography. From imagery being overlaid over each other for other worldly effects, uncomfortable body horror, and amazing soundtrack. Whether you're a fan of Lynch or not, the film is worthy of a watch.

The full Arrow set is out of print, but the film is still available at places like directly from Arrow, Diabolik, Target, Amazon and more . Or you can stream it on Max, but I still urge you to support physical media!



bottom of page