Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Dune over?


From cinemablend, Dune could soon be back on its way to theaters. No not as a remake, not exactly. Any potential future film would, hopefully ignore that David Lynch abortion from 1984 and instead be based on Frank Herbert’s amazing novel.

The guys over at Moviehole have picked up on the story from the DuneNovels.com Forum. Normally it’s a good idea to ignore just about anything said on a message board, but in this case it’s being said by the site’s admin and relative of the great Frank Herbert, a guy named Byron Merritt.

In January, Byron left a post hinting that a new movie might be in motion. He revealed that they were, “in the talking stages, trying to hammer out an agreeable contract.” At the time they were supposed to be looking at the film as a major, $100 million production.

Since January, it looks like things may be moving forward. In an update posted in May Byron revealed, “I've heard that "someone" at the studio wants Dune reallllly bad and has been a fan of the novel for "years." They're not saying who this is (and it might just be hype) but I'm holding out hope that whoever this might be is a big enough fan that he/she will do the book justice. Supposedly it's some director.” Then in August Byron dropped the news, “We're getting VERY close to a deal.”

The problem with Dune is that it’s hard to adapt. Much of the novel is internalized monologue and the story is incredibly complex, filled with multilayered political intrigue and mysticism. Lynch utterly butchered it. It’s since been redone as a Sci Fi Channel miniseries, but they never really had the budget or talent necessary to do Dune justice.

Dune could be an amazing movie, but it won’t be easy. According to Byron, Frank Herbert’s family won’t have any say in what happens with the property once they make the deal. “They want it all and they tend to get it,” he says. Without any gatekeepers the potential is there for another David Lynch to come wallowing in and ruin things, but as a Dune fan you have to hope that maybe Hollywood learned a few lessons from the original 80s screwup.

The really frustrating thing about Lynch’s original Dune is that it should have had everything going for it. I’m not just talking about amazing source material, the cast was incredible. Half the people in it have since become huge stars and brilliant actors. Brad Dourif, Virginia Madsen, Dean Stockwell and Patrick Stewart just to name a few. Alright he also had Sting as the movie’s villain, but that’s no excuse for the surrealist, droning, monstrosity David Lynch turned Dune into.

Whatever happens with a new version of Dune, it can’t possibly be worse than what Lynch did. The book is a masterpiece and deserves to be turned into a smart, adult, massive science fiction epic. It’s not Star Wars, it’s not supposed to be, so don’t expect a movie with lightsabers you can take your kids too. If some sort of watered down family movie is what they make, I may have to take back everything I said about Lynch. Done right though, Dune could be huge.

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