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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Herbert’

Dune” (1984)  —  movie review
With the release of the 2020 version of this movie due out “soon”, I decided to go back and look at the earlier version for perspective.
The 1984 version is directed by David Lynch and stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides (the hero and main character), Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica (the hero’s mom), Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides (the hero’s dad), José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (the “real” main villain), Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (the villain with the most screen time), Everett McGill as Stilgar (the leader of the Fremen of Arrakis), Sean Young as Chani (Stilgar’s daughter and the hero’s love interest), Alicia Witt as Alia (the hero’s younger sister), Paul L. Smith as The Beast Rabban (henchman #1), Sting as Feyd Rautha (henchman #2, who has a duel with the hero at the end), Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck (one of the hero’s teacher’s / trainer’s), Dean Stockwell as Doctor Wellington Yueh (a traitor to the House Atreides), and Max von Sydow as Doctor Kynes (the Freman who first thinks Paul is their “messiah”).  Whew!!
The movie is a pretty standard hero’s discovery plot with a browbeating religious overtone thrown-in for the heck of it.  There’s a bad Emperor who is playing to main families off against each other and using a “spice planet” (Arrakis) as the golden ring.  The spice has something to do with enhancing your ability to “see” the universe and to fold space so trips across the galaxy / universe are instantaneous.  The Altreides family are the good guys and the Harkonnen family are the evil guys.  The only planet (Arrakis) where you can get the spice is a desert world of heat, sand and giant “worms” which burrow through the sand / desert.  (This strangely reminded me of the movie “Tremors” from 1990, and which is MUCH better movie.)
Anyway, the “Fremen” of Arrakis are awaiting a leader who will free them from the Emperor, blah, blah, blah.  And, along comes Paul.  A LOT more blah, blah, blah and Paul rides a worm, leads the Fremen, big staged knife duel with Sting and happily ever after.
Is this movie any good?  Does it do justice to the book?  Was it entertaining?  No, NO!!, and barely.
I read a couple of books in the Dune series (written by Frank Herbert) and, certainly the first book “Dune” is considered a “CLASSIC” in Science Fiction, space fiction, combat fiction and probably a couple of other “fiction” categories as well.  The first book (out in 1965) created a “universe” which the rest of the series builds on, but it (the first book) is bed rock.  As mentioned, I read them back in my very early 20’s, so back between 1975 and 1980 – when I was far more impressionable (Ha, ha).  I saw this movie when it came out and was extremely disappointed.  I have seen a few bits of it on YouTube, but never re-watched it (until today).  It has not improved with age.
I’m not sure if the book was too big (i.e. “Lord of the Rings“), or the movie suffered from poor vision by the director / producers, or just bad writing and acting, but the movie is plodding and  the story / plot poorly communicated and pretty badly acted.  So, no, the movie does not do justice to the book.
But, is it entertaining?  Well, other than the interpretation of the giant worms, no.  I found myself looking for the actors to see who I recognized from other roles and trying to place them.  When a movie is a little over two hours long and it feels like it’s well over four hours long, it’s either REALLY good or not so much…  (Understatement!)
Final recommendation: Poor movie.  Not a BAD movie, but it should have / could have been SO much better.  This movie pretty much ruined me for MacLachlan and I’ve hated Sting in everything I’ve ever seen him in – including most of his music videos (who’s early music – “The Police“, not his solo stuff – I mostly enjoyed).  I sure hope the re-make is better.  Fortunately, this version has set the bar pretty low.
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Above all else, the mentat must be a generalist, not a specialist.  It is wise to have decisions of great moment monitored by generalists.  Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos.  They are a source of useless nit-picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma.  The mentat-generalist, on the other hand, should bring to decision-making a healthy common sense.  He must not cut himself off from the broad sweep of what is happening in his universe.  He must remain capable of saying: “There’s no real mystery about this at the moment.  This is what we want now.  It may prove wrong later, but we’ll correct that when we come to it.”  The mentat-generalist must understand that anything which we can identify as our universe is merely a part of larger phenomena.  But the expert looks backward; he looks into the narrow standards of his own specialty.  The generalist looks outward; he looks for living principles, knowing full well that such principles change, that they develop.  It is to the characteristics of change itself that the mentat-generalist must look.  There can be no permanent catalogue of such change, no handbook or manual.  You must look at it with as few preconceptions as possible, asking yourself: “Now what is this thing doing?
  —  Frank Herbert
From his novel:  “Children of Dune
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My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality.  “Something cannot emerge from nothing,” he said.  This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable the truth can be.
   —  Frank Herbert
From his novel: “Dune
[The lessons we learn from our parents last a lifetime.  In my case, from my single parent.  Happy Birthday to my mother.  Love Always, your son Kevin  —  KMAB]
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No matter how exotic human civilization becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine / human interface, there always come interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.
  —  Frank Herbert
From his novel:  “Dune Messiah
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Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense.  But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
   —  Frank Herbert
From his novel: “Dune
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Greatness is a transitory experience.  It is never consistent.  It depends in part upon the myth making imagination of Humankind.  The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in.  He must reflect what is projected upon him.  And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic.  This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions.  The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself.  Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.
   —  Frank Herbert
From his book: “Dune
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A world is supported by four things… the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valour of the brave.  But all of these are as nothing… without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.  Make that the science of your tradition!
   —  Frank Herbert
[From his SciFi novel: “Dune
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Tell me of thine eyes
And I will tell thee of thy heart.
Tell me of thy feet
And I will tell thee of thy hands.
Tell me of thy sleeping
And I will tell thee of thy waking.
Tell me of thy desires
And I will tell the of thy needs.
   —  Frank Herbert
From his SciFi novel: “Dune
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When your opponent fears you, then’s the moment when you give the fear its own rein, give it the time to work on him.  Let it become terror.  The terrified man fights himself.  Eventually, he attacks in desperation.  That is the most dangerous moment, but the terrified man can be trusted usually to make a fatal mistake.  You are being trained here to detect these mistakes and use them.
   —  Frank Herbert
From his classic SciFi novel: “Dune
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Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern.  The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery.  The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
   —    Frank Herbert
From his book: “Children Of Dune
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The joy of living, its beauty is all bound up in the fact that life can surprise you.
   —   Frank Herbert
From his novel: “Children of Dune
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