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Dune (1984)

A world beyond your experience, beyond your imagination. 

Year: 1984 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (70mm) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by David Lynch 
Starring: Francesca Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, José Ferrer, Sting (in just a weird codpiece thing - yes really!)  
An image from Dune (1984)

A beginning, as they say, is a very delicate time…

It’s difficult to know where to begin with this. On the one hand, it’s impossible to deny that after the savage cuts imposed on it by De Laurentiis this film makes little sense as a standalone work (but! You’ve seen both Villeneuve Dunes by this point, riiight? Not essential of course, but does help quite a lot) and at times is laugh-out-loud funny in ways it definitely was not meant to be: much has been said of Sting’s (yes, from the Police – an Englishman on Arrakis, if you will) absurd emergence from a cloud of billowing steam wearing nothing but a pair of winged… underpants(?), but the bathos of the film’s final line is my favourite moment of ineptitude. It’s well worth seeing for the unintentional hilarity alone, and it’s easy to see why Lynch disowned it.

And yet… this isn’t The Room. There’s a lot that works very well in this oh-so-deliciously-baffling little film – and I do mean little: this covers the story arcs of both Parts 1 and 2 of the modern film series in a runtime well short of either of them – and it clearly contains a lot of good ideas, even if they don’t always quite work. The sets and costume design and, dare I say it, world-building are genuinely outstanding and unique in a way you might expect from a David Lynch film and Kyle MacLachlan does a surprisingly great job of playing your friend and mine, Timmy T.

I’m not sure it’s actually possible to do justice to this glittering, solitary fever dream of a film on paper but also, like, it’s Dune directed by David Lynch, it’s gotta be worth a watch, right? On Arrakis, the spice may turn your eyes blue and send you tripping off your face in the desert, but on Earth apparently it makes you lug a 70mm print of Dune (1984) halfway across the country so that you can programme it in exam season. Enjoy!

Kieran Hall

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Screenings of this film:

1985/1986 Spring Term (35mm)
1985/1986 Spring Term (35mm)
1985/1986 Spring Term (35mm)
1985/1986 Spring Term (35mm)
1989/1990 Summer Term (16mm)
1992/1993 Spring Term (35mm)
1996/1997 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Spring Term (70mm)
2021/2022 Autumn Term (70mm)
2023/2024 Summer Term (70mm)