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1984

November 9, 2021

Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) duels with his mentor Gurney Halleck (Patrick Stewart) using shields in the 1984 Dune adaptation.

Courtesy of Universal Studios Pictures

Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) duels with his mentor Gurney Halleck (Patrick Stewart) using shields in the 1984 “Dune” adaptation.

The first “Dune” adaptation was riddled with problems, the largest being the year it was created in. The technology necessary to make a “Dune” movie simply did not exist in 1984.  

In the book, the shields that the characters wear while fighting are invisible unless struck, however, in the 1984 film they are semi-translucent blocks that make it nearly impossible to discern where one character ends and the other begins. Computers and effects in the 1980’s were primitive by today’s standards, leading to an almost sloppy setting, throughout much of the movie. 

Another glaring issue with the 1984 “Dune” is that it tried to squeeze an 800 page book into 2 hours and 17 minutes. It was simply not enough time to fully actuate Paul Atreides’ transition from the young, sheltered son of a duke and a Bene Gesserit, to the Kwisatz Haderach. The film cuts out the majority of his time with the Fremen making not only his character arc feel rushed, but his relationship with Chani feel strangely forced.  

The technology necessary to make a “Dune” movie simply did not exist in 1984.  ”

The book makes a point to mention the fact that Paul is 15 frequently, but in the 1984 movie he looks closer to 25 than to 15, and his age is not mentioned in the film. This changes the viewer’s perception of the character drastically, where in the book Paul seems young and vulnerable surrounded by adults whom he is reliant on, Paul in the movie is treated almost as an equal and seems self sufficient. Being older takes away a lot of the important character growth, both literally and emotionally that Paul receives during the book.

The 1984 “Dune” movie should not be judged harshly. It is a product of its time and, because of that, it is not done as well as the modern “Dune” movie, but for all of its limitations, lack of available technology, short run-time, and questionable plot choices, it was still a decent movie. Even if it’s entertainment value comes more from quips and Sting playing Feyd-Rautha rather than beautiful scenery or compelling dialogue, it still has become a cult-classic. 

 

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