The whole concept behind 10+ Years Later is to revisit films about which time has potentially changed your opinion. When perusing David Lynch's filmography, I found myself routinely thinking, “Of course Dune is terrible,” and ignoring it to the extent that I could. But really, if one hardly remembers a film at all, and one likes or loves everything else that a filmmaker has done, doesn't one owe said film a second watch?
I consider Lynch to be my favorite living artist. I can find value in just about everything he's produced, even when it's a television commercial or a thinly-veiled transcendental meditation manifesto. In college I wrote an (overly long, and surely fawning) essay about his fascination with the duality of blonde girls-next-door and brunette femmes fatale.
In preparation for it, I re-watched every movie of his save for The Elephant Man, The Straight Story, and Dune. While I have always liked the first two, I never thought Dune was worth another thought, and Lynch's own admission of failure has tidily validated my avoidance.
Now, though, Lynch is enjoying both success and the sweet freedom of total creative control on Twin Peaks: The Return. For the third season's premiere, he basked in a standing ovation at Cannes, the same festival at which his work was booed 25 years ago at the screening of Fire Walk With Me. At 71, he has finally (long overdue) found a medium that suits him, a studio that trusts him, and an audience that will follow him. The sting of Dune's failure has hopefully diminished. So, in the interest of potential revisionism, let's give it one more look.
It's somewhat difficult to critique Dune in 2017, when all of its flaws and shortcomings were already laid relentlessly bare by critics upon its release over 30 years ago. And if not difficult per se, the task is surely unnecessary and redundant. Most negative reviews of the era focused on the film's incoherence, its tedious pacing and its general lack of intrigue. For Lynch devotees (especially looking back on the film and trying to reconcile it amongst his oeuvre), the complaints tend to hinge on its directorial anonymity: its seeming lack of Lynchian DNA.
For the moment, I will attempt an objective look at Dune as a film -- rather than specifically as a Lynch film. This should not be hard for me to do, because I had always followed Lynch's lead in writing it off as a project he never should have been involved in. This article assumes the reader has seen the movie, and there are spoilers ahead.