REVIEW: DUNE (1984)

CAST
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Brad Dourif (Childs Play)
Linda Hunt (Dragonfly)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander II)
Francesca Annis (The Libertine)
Leonardo Cimino (Amityville II)
José Ferrer (Lawrence of Arabia)
Freddie Jones (Young Sherlock Holmes)
Richard Jordan (The Hunt For Red October)
Siân Phillips (Clash of The Titans 1981)
Jürgen Prochnow (Hitman: Agent 47)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Sting (Brimstone & Treacle)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Max von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Alicia Witt (Two Weerks Notice)
Sean Young (Blade Runner)
In the distant future the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The most important substance in the empire is the drug known as melange or “the spice”. It has many special properties, such as extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable and important of its properties is its ability to assist the Spacing Guild with folding space, which allows safe, instantaneous interstellar travel.
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 has grown, and he is suspected to be amassing a secret army, 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 archenemies, the Harkonnens. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, 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 the centuries-long Bene Gesserit breeding program which seeks to produce the universe’s superbeing, the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. 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 tells his nephews Glossu Rabban and Feyd-Rautha about his plan to eliminate the Atreides by manipulating someone into betraying the Duke. The Atreides leave Caladan for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms and the Fremen, a 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, 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 and aided by a traitor within House Atreides, Dr. Wellington Yueh. 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 concubine Lady Jessica and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they join a band of Fremen, led by Stilgar. Paul emerges as Muad’Dib, the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting. Paul teaches the Fremen to use the sonic weapons and targets mining production of spice. Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Spacing Guild warn the The Emperor 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 into a trance. Awakening, 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’s elite shock troops at the capital city of Arrakeen. His Fremen warriors defeat the Emperor’s legions, while Paul’s sister Alia kills Baron Harkonnen. Paul faces the defeated Emperor and relieves him of power, then engages Feyd-Rautha in a duel to the death. Paul demonstrates his newfound 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 him the Kwisatz Haderach.
If you are curious about the film and are familiar with all the bad and discouraging press it has received over the years, yet remain a fan of exceptional fantasy or science fiction, do not be discouraged. You may find that it has elements that may just move you, bewilder you, or tantalise your imagination. You may come to agree, like a growing number of us, that it really is not so deserving of the excoriation that it has suffered at the hands – or pens – of its harshest critics. If you go into it with a forgiving mindset then you may be well rewarded. And then – if you haven’t already – read the saga itself. It is formidably great
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