Dune (the Michael Warren edit, 1984/2013)

Director: David Lynch

So, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook earlier today:


This ia recut of David Lynch’s Dune, carried out by a brave chap called Michael Warren. Amazingly, it’s been up on Vimeo now for quite a long time apparently without copping an infringement notice or anything, but I’ve only just found it. Basically, Warren’s taken the available DVD versions of the original theatrical cut, the extended TV cut, and various deleted scenes, and produced his own, slightly over three-hour edit of the thing. The net result is what might be called an eclectic text, with some rough edges, but in fairness to him, Warren was only working with the stuff he could get on DVD, not the actual original elements (which I presume Lynch still has no interest in going back to). I will give him many points for effort.

NOW… I have reviewed Dune here before, and if you can’t be bothered clicking that link (and why the hell would you), let me quote the opening words: “Almost unmitigated dogshit”. Yeah, I, er, didn’t like it much. As I noted then, I’d found the TV version baffling whenever I saw that (late 80s? I no longer remember) and I wasn’t much more enlightened by the original theatrical version. I sat down with Mr Warren’s version, therefore, hoping he’d somehow pulled an adequate film out of the wreckage.

And guess what?






I have come, at last, to the conclusion that there is nothing that can save Lynch’s Dune from being anything other than dogshit. If you could rebuild the entire thing, sound and vision, from scratch (assuming every individual bit of sound and vision is still available), the end result would still be one of the worst films ever made. Cutting out the infernal voiceovers would be a start, but it would still be completely awful.

I hate this film now in a way I don’t think I did before. And yet I don’t blame Michael Warren for this, because the film isn’t his fault. His edit was a bold attempt to turn shit into strawberry jam that… just… totally failed because the stuff he had to work with was no good. I can’t agree him that Dune is unfairly maligned, either; if anything, I’m now convinced it’s not maligned nearly enough. And, frankly, I am now afraid to read the book as a result of tonight’s viewing…

2 thoughts on “Dune (the Michael Warren edit, 1984/2013)

  1. Joel Bocko August 12, 2015 at 4:01 am

    I’ve enjoyed Warren’s David Lynch coverage a lot, so it’s interesting to see he’s done this. At some point I may check out. That said, where I don’t have anywhere near the hostility you have for Dune, I did find it fairly tedious & by far Lynch’s worst movie (second-worst – or at least second-least-favorite would, for me, be Wild at Heart which isn’t a bad film at all, just doesn’t hit me quite as hard as his other films). I think part of the problem is that even if you fix the editing and voiceovers, the film just doesn’t *feel* like a Lynch film. The performances, the compositions, the pacing are all unusually turgid; he’s said that as soon as he signed the contract that gave away final cut, even before anything had been written or shot, he had already started to sell his soul and you can see it in the movie. Despite a fair amount of Lynch motifs and ideas, it feels oddly impersonal. Other “atypical” films – like The Straight Story – actually feel very Lynchian at their core. This one doesn’t.

  2. James R. August 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Definitely. Straight Story is still recognisably his work, even if it is far removed from things like Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive. Dune… isn’t. It makes me wonder how he would’ve fared on Return of the Jedi, which he was slated to direct at one point, though on reflection I suspect Lynch’s ROTJ would probably have ended up rather like Dune, at least in the sense of it being kind of impersonal. It wouldn’t have been a “David Lynch film”, I imagine.

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