David Lynch’s ‘Dune’: The Valiant Effort That Became a Source of Sadness
With the release date of Dune, October 22, 2021, approaching closer, the hype for the highly-anticipated movie has grown increasingly apparent. Getting into directing Dune immediately after finishing the hugely acclaimed Blade Runner 2049, fans have huge expectations of Denis Villeneuve.
Villeneuve is a fan of the novel Dune by Frank Herbert and has expressed his desire to make the upcoming movie into the adaptation of his dreams. He also noted that when he watched David Lynch’s adaptation in the 80s, he was impressed but not thrilled.
But when I saw his [Lynch’s] adaptation, I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams. It will not have any link with the David Lynch movie. I’m going back to the book and going to the images that came out when I read it.
Lynch, too, has stated that he has “zero interest” in Villeneuve’s Dune. In fact, the Eraserhead director has described his adaptation of Dune as his career’s most painful work.
Lynch was brought in to direct Dune right after completing his work on The Elephant Man, one of his most successful projects. The novel Dune at the time was an enormous hit, with many sci-fi aficionados touting it as a masterpiece.
To match the novel’s grandiose vision and expansive world, the movie had a huge crew and a budget of roughly $40 million. However, through the three years when they worked on the movie, they ran out of budget and had to give up on many sequences that Lynch had envisioned.
Lynch encountered further problems with the producers and financiers, which affected his creative vision and made things worse. In the end, Lynch didn’t even have the final cut on the movie.
I always say, ‘Dune’ is a huge gigantic sadness in my life. I did not have the final cut on that film. Total creative control, I didn’t have it. The film is not the film I would’ve made had I had that final control. It’s a bit of a sadness.
Lynch spent over a year and a half working on the script and a total of three years shooting it with a crew of over 1700 people. However, when he did not get to make the movie he wanted, he was severely unsatisfied with the final product and even wanted to remove his name from the final theatrical cut.
Some extended cuts that came out, later on, replaced Lynch’s name on the credit scene with Alan Smithee, an official pseudonym used by film directors who wish to disown a project.
The movie was a huge disappointment, only earning between $30.9 million to $37.9 million. Dune was by no means Lynch’s first box office failure. However, the director said that he died twice with Dune — first when he didn’t have the final cut and second when the movie turned into a commercial failure.