Friday, January 11, 2008

Non-archaeology post I was watching part of the Dune movie last night, the 1984 one that David Lynch (Twin Peaks) directed. At the time it came out, I was kind of disappointed in it largely because it deviated from the book in several strange and, to my mind, meaningless, ways. For instance, they introduced the whole "weirding module" thing that wasn't in the book at all and just looks kind of ridiculous on screen. They also got rid of one of the central tenets of the books' mythology: sword fighting as the main form of battle. For those unfamiliar with the books, the development of shields made projectile weapons obsolete and laser-like weapons almost obsolete because the laser-like weapons reacted when hitting a shield causing both the person with the shield and the weapon to explode. So they had to go back to bladed weapons. These were virtually absent from the Lynch film, and they used basic laser guns and the occasional knife.

The Sci Fi Channel did a miniseries of it a few years ago which was in some ways much better, in others much worse. The sets and the basic storyline of the new one were probably more true to the book. In particular, while on Arrakis it was actually light. The 1984 one was dark nearly all the time even when supposedly in a desert in the daytime. I think the casting was better in the 1984 one, even though Lynch relied on his own stable of actors from his various projects. I seriously didn't like the Paul actor in the newer version. Perhaps the actor was okay, but the way he played Paul was entirely wrong, IMO. He acted more like the snotty vain character that Feyd-Rautha really was. I thought Kyle MacLachlan did the Paul character very well. He acted like Paul was still something of an excited kid, which he was. I think in that version I was actually rooting for the latter to win the final knife fight. Leto (Jürgen Prochnow) and Jessica (Francesca Annis) were perfectly cast.

Sting was brilliant as Feyd. Apparently, he was irritated at the scene where he comes out of the steambath wearing a little loincloth type thing and decided to look as gay as possible for that scene. But, in fact, it fit the character perfectly: exceedingly vain and he knew what his uncle the Baron's proclivities were.

The second miniseries Sci Fi did was much better; it encompassed the two follwing books, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. I heartily endorse renting those for viewing.

Apparently they had several different cuts of the 1984 movie. Rather like Bladerunner which also just had yet another release of a particular version. I think the second non-theatrical release of Dune was the better one.