Monday, January 02, 2006


Subject: Cinema
A few years back, the Sci-Fi channel had their interpretation of Frank Herbert's "Dune". Which, in a lot of ways, was very faithful to Frank Herbert's novel. But it really lacked a lot, and got a few things totally wrong; at least in the eyes of a fan of the series of novel is concerned.

Still, it was way more accurate than David Lynch's interpretation from 1984. (Which I've just watched the HiDef transfer of on HDNET).

But in a lot of ways, David Lynch's version had a whole lot of soul going for it.

When I watched the Sci-Fi version, I found myself missing the voiceovers. And I especially missed the atmosphere, costuming, and sense of place that Lynch's original had.

When I first saw Lynch's version, I despised it, in spite of everything I thought it did right. It gave me the biggest headache I ever had -- and I've had quite a number of hangovers since. In particular, there were liberties he took in the story that entirely missed the point of the novel that I found unforgivable:

-- "Ha" guns. The so-called "weirding way"; a strong and sensible martial arts, are usurped by a technology that turns emotional sounds into ray-guns. WTF??! Stupidest f*ing plot device ever!

-- The "all-moisture-escapes-through-your-head" stillsuits turns into a costume from a Madonna concert, replete with minuature microphone (albiet sticking in the nose). Holy crap; the whole point of the stillsuit was to reclaim every tiny bit of moisture from the body, but to have it such that your hairsprayed coiff could be admired by all movie-goers was quite a conciet -- to the point of complete absurdity.

-- Raining at the end. Sorry to spoil it, but it's totally stupid. Arrakis doesn't rain. Even a number of novels in, a rainstorm is a rare and crazy event based on a number of years of planetary change. The whole notion of how moisture and the planet and the ecology works on Arrakis is totally undermined from what Frank Herbert tried to accomplish.

Those are really only the most heinous transgressions; there's a few other details that bug me (orinothopters should have bird-flapping wings, for one). And the Sci-Fi version got a lot more of that right. But, oddly enough, it was still inferior as a cinematic experience goes. If David Lynch can do anything, he's able to completely and utterly bring an experience to the screen. Scope, scale, sense-of-place; Lynch had it all.

I'd love to be able to do something in between; something that gets into the nitty-gritty like Lynch, but doesn't totally disrespect Herbert's original story like the Sci-Fi version. Of course, I think an animated version would do the trick. But, that's going to be the solution to everything for me after watching "Noir" again, isn't it?

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