By now, most of us know where David Lynch is coming from — Mars. We also know that at his best (Blue Velvet, the peak Twin Peaks episodes), Lynch’s fierce dream logic has a disturbing beauty. But back in 1984, the dank sci-fi epic Dune was such a fiasco that the director’s career seemed to lie in ruins. Now available on video at an affordable price, Dune is a compellingly weird curio — an interesting collectible to put on the shelf next to the Peaks tapes.
Forget about the plot. There’s just no way that Frank Herbert’s huge novel could be crammed into one film, and Lynch barely bothers. The characters deliver lumpy chunks of exposition that dare you to laugh at them. But the movie delivers some remarkable pleasures. The director’s visual take on the sci-fi genre is perverse and breathtaking — Jules Verne as filmed by Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. There are several surreal dream sequences that are right up there with Lynch’s singing dwarf on TV. And Peaks freaks will be glad to see not only Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) but Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Pete Martell (Lynch regular Jack Nance) in previous incarnations.
Throw in a lousy score by Toto and Sting wearing a lamé jockstrap, and you have an epic that teeters between the ridiculous and the inspired. Even so, the inspirations are pure Lynch. C-