Dune is a 1984 science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and includes an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles. It was filmed at the Churubusco Studios in Mexico City and included a soundtrack by the band Toto. The plot concerns a young man foretold as the "Kwisatz Haderach" who will lead the native Fremen of the titular desert planet to victory over the malevolent House Harkonnen.
After the success of the novel, attempts to adapt Dune for a film began as early as 1971. A lengthy process of development hell followed throughout the 1970s, during which time both Arthur P. Jacobs and Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to bring their visions to the screen. In 1981, Lynch was hired as director by executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.
The film was not well received by critics and performed poorly at the American box-office. Upon its release, Lynch distanced himself from the project, stating that pressure from both producers and financiers restrained his artistic control and denied him final cut. At least three different versions have been released worldwide. In some cuts Lynch's name is replaced in the credits with the name Alan Smithee, a pseudonym used by directors who wished not to be associated with a film for which they would normally be credited.
In the far future, the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Ferrer). The most important substance in his galactic empire is the spice melange. The spice has many special properties, such as extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable of its properties is its ability to assist the Spacing Guild with folding space. The spice is vital to space travel because it allows safe interstellar travel to any part of the universe instantaneously.
Sensing a potential threat to spice production, the Guild sends an emissary to demand an explanation from the Emperor, who confidentially shares his plans to destroy House Atreides. The popularity of Duke Leto Atreides (Prochnow) has grown, and he is suspected to be amassing a secret army using sonic weapons called Weirding Modules, making him a threat to the Emperor. Shaddam's plan is to give the Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice, and to have them ambushed there by their longtime enemies, the Harkonnens. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke's son, Paul Atreides (MacLachlan), a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose. The order draws the attention of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, as Paul is tied to their centuries-long breeding program which seeks to produce the superhuman Kwisatz Haderach. Paul is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Phillips). With a deadly gom jabbar at his throat, Paul is forced to place his hand in a box which subjects him to excruciating pain. He passes to Mohiam's satisfaction.
Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (McMillan) tells his nephews Glossu Rabban (Smith) and Feyd-Rautha (Sting) about his plan to eliminate the Atreides by manipulating someone into betraying the Duke. The Atreides leave Caladan for Arrakis, a barren desert planet plagued by gigantic sandworms and populated by theFremen, mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah would come to lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men,Duncan Idaho (Jordan), that the Fremen have been underestimated, as they exist in vast numbers and could prove to be powerful allies. Leto gains the trust of Fremen, but before the Duke can establish an alliance with them, the Harkonnens launch their attack.
While the Atreides had anticipated a trap, they are unable to withstand the attack, supported by the Emperor's elite troops, the Sardaukar, and aided by a traitor within House Atreides itself,Dr. Wellington Yueh (Stockwell). Captured, Leto dies in a failed attempt to assassinate the Baron Harkonnen using a poison gas capsule planted in his tooth by Dr. Yueh. Leto's concubineLady Jessica (Annis) and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they manage to join a band of Fremen. Paul emerges as Muad'Dib, the leader the Fremen have been waiting for. Paul teaches the Fremen to use the weirding modules and begins targeting mining production of spice. Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Emperor is warned by the Spacing Guild of the situation on Arrakis. The Guild fears that Paul will consume the Water of Life. These fears are revealed to Paul in a prophetic dream; he drinks the Water of Life and enters a coma. Awaking, he is transformed and gains control of the sandworms of Arrakis. He has discovered that water kept in huge caches by the Fremen can be used to destroy the spice. Paul has also seen into space and the future; the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to regain control of the planet and the spice.
Upon the Emperor's arrival at Arrakis, he executes Rabban for failing to remedy the spice situation. Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor at the capital city ofArrakeen. His Fremen warriors defeat the Emperor's legions of Sardaukar, while Paul's sister Alia (Witt) kills Baron Harkonnen. Paul faces the defeated Emperor and relieves him of power, then engages Feyd-Rautha in a duel to the death. In the final scene of the film, Paul demonstrates his newly-found powers and fulfills the Fremen prophecy that he is the promised messiah by causing rain to fall on Arrakis for the first time ever as Alia declares: "And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!"Kyle MacLachlan as Paul AtreidesSting as Feyd-Rautha.
In credited order:
- Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica
- Leonardo Cimino as the Baron's Doctor
- Brad Dourif as Piter De Vries
- José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
- Linda Hunt as the Shadout Mapes
- Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat
- Richard Jordan as Duncan Idaho
- Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides
- Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan
- Silvana Mangano as Reverend Mother Ramallo
- Everett McGill as Stilgar
- Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
- Jack Nance as Captain Iakin Nefud
- Siân Phillips as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
- Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides
- Paul L. Smith as the Beast Rabban (credited as Paul Smith)
- Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck
- Sting as Feyd-Rautha
- Dean Stockwell as Dr. Wellington Yueh
- Max von Sydow as Dr. Kynes
- Alicia Witt as Alia (credited as Alicia Roanne Witt)
- Sean Young as Chani
- Honorato Magaloni as Otheym (credited as Honorato Magalone)
- Judd Omen as Jamis
- Molly Wryn as Harah, Jamis' wife