I have something of a troubled history with Dune, Frank Herbert's legendary sci-fi classic about deserts, a precious natural resource, and a religious uprising (sound familiar?).
Jedijawa, my college room mate, read the novel, in its full doorstop length, for a sci-fi/fantasy class he took. I started it shortly thereafter, but just couldn't wade through the thicket of made up words, medieval political structures, and just plain weirdness.
I did, however, manage to watch the movie, directed by David Lynch and released in 1984. To call it a "clusterfuck" is perhaps too kind. It was a troubled production that left the film, in some formats, released with Lynch's name taken off.
Here's a pretty good piece of evidence for just how troubled it was. Over at blastr, they've recovered the two-page handout that Universal prepared to hand out at screenings to help Dune newbies figure things out.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Most American movie goers won't see foreign films, lest they have to "read" while they go to the movies. And you want to assign them homework? And how are they supposed to read the damn thing in the dark, anyway? Hindsight being 20/20, it's amazing the thing was as well received as it was.
Having said that, I kind of like it. Scratch that - I really like it. Enough to own the the nearly three-hour "extended" edition and even watch it now and then. Is it because of that Toto (I shit you not) soundtrack? Sting being the only overactor that actually works? The fact that Patrick Stewart's gets to play an instrument in one scene that's so futuristic Tony Levin's used one since the 1970s? I can't say. There's just something about it.
It's also ruined my later attempts to return to the original book. I borrowed the audiobook version from the library years ago and just couldn't make it through more than a few hours. I knew too much of what happened from the movie (and the later done miniseries, which isn't half bad, but lacks the . . . whatever that the Lynch flick has), so that the details of things that weren't in the movie seemed pointless and the plot couldn't move along fast enough. Maybe I'll give it a go another time.
Or not. I've never read The Lord of the Rings, either!