Dune (1984)

PG-13 | 137 mins | Science fiction | 14 December 1984

Director:

David Lynch

Writer:

David Lynch

Cinematographer:

Freddie Francis

Editor:

Antony Gibbs

Production Designer:

Anthony Masters

Production Company:

Dino De Laurentiis Corporation
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HISTORY

       As the film starts, but before the beginning credits, actress Virginia Madsen appears onscreen in the role of “Princess Irulan,” explaining the significance of “the spice” on planet Arrakis.
       While the 3 Nov 1971 DV announced that producer Roger Corman’s New World Pictures had purchased the film rights to Frank Herbert’s best-selling 1965 novel, Dune, and principal photography was scheduled to begin summer 1972 in Czechoslovakia, a 11 Sep 1972 HR news item reported that the property had been acquired by producer Arthur P. Jacobs for his company, APJAC International Productions, and filming was set to begin early 1974. On 6 Sep 1972, Var reported that Herbert, who had been hired as a technical advisor on the film, recently scouted locations in Pakistani cities Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, as well as negotiated with government officials to spend $1 million of the $3 million budget in Pakistan. A 7 Dec 1972 HR news item announced that Rospo Pallenberg, who was previously known for his work as a New York City skyscraper architect, was hired to adapt Herbert’s novel. According to Var, Susan Hampshire, John Neville and Patrick McGoohan were already cast in the picture and Haskell Wexler (misspelled “Harold Wexler”) was expected to direct, with production starting Mar 1973. The 21 Apr 1973 NYT stated that Jacobs planned to start development when he finished shooting the musical version of Huckleberry Finn (1974, see entry); however, Jacobs died 27 Jun 1973 while that film was still in production.
       On 23 Apr 1975, Var reported that Dune ... More Less

       As the film starts, but before the beginning credits, actress Virginia Madsen appears onscreen in the role of “Princess Irulan,” explaining the significance of “the spice” on planet Arrakis.
       While the 3 Nov 1971 DV announced that producer Roger Corman’s New World Pictures had purchased the film rights to Frank Herbert’s best-selling 1965 novel, Dune, and principal photography was scheduled to begin summer 1972 in Czechoslovakia, a 11 Sep 1972 HR news item reported that the property had been acquired by producer Arthur P. Jacobs for his company, APJAC International Productions, and filming was set to begin early 1974. On 6 Sep 1972, Var reported that Herbert, who had been hired as a technical advisor on the film, recently scouted locations in Pakistani cities Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, as well as negotiated with government officials to spend $1 million of the $3 million budget in Pakistan. A 7 Dec 1972 HR news item announced that Rospo Pallenberg, who was previously known for his work as a New York City skyscraper architect, was hired to adapt Herbert’s novel. According to Var, Susan Hampshire, John Neville and Patrick McGoohan were already cast in the picture and Haskell Wexler (misspelled “Harold Wexler”) was expected to direct, with production starting Mar 1973. The 21 Apr 1973 NYT stated that Jacobs planned to start development when he finished shooting the musical version of Huckleberry Finn (1974, see entry); however, Jacobs died 27 Jun 1973 while that film was still in production.
       On 23 Apr 1975, Var reported that Dune was scheduled to begin production mid-Mar 1975 in Hollywood, CA, with Chilean-French filmmaker Alexandro Jodorowsky directing. Although the film had only secured French financing at the time, (with Michel Seydoux’s company, Camera One), Var reported that the picture would ultimately be a “French-Italian-Mexican coproduction” because most of the filming was planned for Mexico. Douglas Trumbull was hired to create the special effects for the film, which was budgeted at $4 million. A 16 Mar 1983 Var article stated that Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis Jodorowsky, was cast in the lead role of “Paul Atreides,” and actors Laurent Terzieff, Andréa Ferréol and Orson Welles had been contracted to perform. Additionally, Salvador Dali, Charlotte Rampling, Mick Jagger, Alain Delon, Pierre Clémenti and Gloria Swanson were set to play smaller roles.
       The project remained in limbo until early 1979, when Dino De Laurentiis purchased the film rights to Dune and announced that he would produce the picture with his company, Famous Films Productions, N.V., according to a 29 Jan 1979 HR brief. Famous Films is not credited in the film. Herbert was adapting the screenplay, and the budget was expected to exceed $32 million. A DV news item on the same day noted that production was scheduled to begin in 1979 after De Laurentiis completed Flash Gordon (1980, see entry). On 11 Dec 1979, HR announced that Ridley Scott was hired to direct the picture, which De Laurentiis predicted would be “the most expensive film of all time.” Noting that Jodorowsky’s version of Dune “collapsed in preproduction,” HR stated that Swiss production designer H. R. Giger was contracted by De Laurentiis to remain with the project. A Feb 1981 edition of New West reported that James Clay Parks was hired to replace Herbert as the film’s screenwriter and the project was acquired by Universal Pictures. However, an executive at Universal told New West that the budget was not feasible, despite De Laurentiis’ “enormous” investment, and the film’s future was uncertain.
       According to a 21 May 1981 DV news item, writer Rudy Wurlitzer had delivered a first draft of the script to Ridley Scott in 1981 and filming was set to start that year, but Scott was unable to remain with the project when Blade Runner’s (1982, see entry) financier, Filmways, faced a financial crisis and the production was rescheduled to a time that conflicted with Dune. A Nov 1984 edition of Omni also noted that Scott wrote a treatment of the novel which displeased Herbert because it accentuated an incestuous relationship between the character Paul Atreides and his mother, “Lady Jessica.”
       David Lynch was announced as the film’s director in the 21 May 1981 DV. The production was budgeted for $30 million and principal photography was scheduled to begin spring 1982, in Europe and North Africa. As stated in a 23 Sep 1983 DV article, De Laurentiis’ daughter and the film’s producer, Raffaella De Laurentiis, convinced her father to hire Lynch, whose 1980 release, The Elephant Man, (see entry) had recently been nominated for eight Academy Awards. In addition to his role as director, Lynch was contracted to “collaborate” with Wurlitzer on the script, but their work was put on hold during the 1981 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. While Lynch is the only screenwriter credited onscreen, a 16 Mar 1983 Var article added Christopher DeVore and Eric Bergren as writers on the film’s earlier drafts. DV stated that it took Lynch eighteen months and seven drafts to complete the final script.
       According to Var, Lynch’s production of Dune was scheduled to begin production 30 Mar 1983 at Mexico City’s Churubusco Studios with a budget of $40 million. A 24 May 1983 HR news item confirmed that production was underway at Churubusco’s eight soundstages. Noting that the cast included 500 Mexican extras, HR named four Mexican actors who are not credited onscreen: Humberto Elizondo, Raymundo Capetillo, Gustavo Ganem and Ricardo Carrion.
       On 20 Jul 1983, Var reported that crewmembers had threatened a strike, demanding an eighty-percent pay raise. Another Var news item published the same day noted that Universal was unwilling to publicize the film’s budget but admitted that it was “the most expensive picture” it had ever “been associated with.” A 1 Aug 1983 DV brief stated that 300 workers recently spent two months clearing a three-mile portion of desert in the Samalayuca Dune Fields in Chihuahua, Mexico.
       The production ultimately included fifty-three speaking roles, 20,000 extras and 900 crew members, according to a 4 Sep 1983 LAHExam article. The four planets portrayed in the film required the construction of approximately seventy sets, and filming at Churubusco was fraught with mishaps, including regular power outages and the consistent ill health of cast and crew, but the filmmakers remained in Mexico because of currency exchange rates for the U.S. dollar and because no other studio was available for a year-long rental, according to LAHExam. While the budget remained a matter of speculation, Lynch reported that he was not concerned about the mounting costs and twenty-nine-year-old Raffaella De Laurentiis noted that the filmmakers were saving millions of dollars by working in Mexico. LAHExam stated that a large portion of the budget was assigned to the film’s special effects, including the $2 million for the “sandworms,” which were designed by Carlo Rambaldi, the creator of “E.T.” in Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, see entry). A 17 Dec 1983 Screen International article noted that the production constructed the largest blue screen to that time, measuring thirty-five feet high and 108 feet wide, as well as a 100 x 300-foot reservoir. The parking lot of Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium was used as a location for the film’s “landing field.”
       The film marked actor Kyle MacLachlan’s debut in a theatrically-released feature film. He was twenty-four years old at the time of production. Various contemporary sources, including Screen International, noted that Aldo Ray was cast in the film as “Gurney Halleck,” but he was replaced by Patrick Stewart. Silvana Mangano, the wife of Dino De Laurentiis and mother of Raffaella, performed in the role of “Reverend Mother Ramallo” after a twelve-year absence from the screen.
       A 23 Sep 1983 DV article announced that filming had ended after twenty-three weeks; however, the production was finished six months ahead of schedule, according to a 12 Apr 1984 HR news item. With principal photography complete, the budget was officially reported at $40 million, but insiders told DV that the cost might have reached $60 million. Although post-production was scheduled to continue for four weeks in Mexico City and Los Angeles, CA, and completion was planned for the end of Oct 1983, the 17 Dec 1983 Screen International stated that the special effects were still being added in Mexico. At the time, Dune sets at Churubusco Studios were reportedly being re-used for Conan the Destroyer (1984, see entry), which was also produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis. On 25 Jan 1984, Lynch told HR that postproduction was scheduled to end early Feb 1984 in Mexico, and another eight weeks were planned for Los Angeles.
       According to Screen International, Lynch contracted with De Laurentiis to direct “at least two, and possibly three” additional films adapted from Herbert’s six-novel Dune series, but his next project with De Laurentiis was set to be a production of Lynch’s original screenplay, Ronnie Rocket ; however, the film did not materialize. A 22 Mar 1984 LAHExam news item announced that De Laurentiis had “green light(ed)” two Dune sequels to be directed by Lynch and produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis. Most of the original cast, with the exception of Max Von Sydow, was expected to return to their roles and Lynch had “virtually completed” screenplay drafts for Dune II and Dune III. As of Feb 2013, the sequels had not been produced.
       The picture’s two-year marketing campaign marked one of the largest promotional drives in film history, according to a 19 Nov 1984 DV article. Twenty-five department stores nationwide carried Dune merchandise; some featured window displays and sponsored travelling fashion shows. Television and radio stations collaborated with department stores to advertise a contest for tickets to the 3 Dec 1984 premiere at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Bookstore chains featured Herbert’s novel, sponsored a contest to dine with the author in Los Angeles, and sold cassette tapes of an interview with Herbert and Lynch. The Dino De Laurentiis Corporation licensed at least thirty lines of product tie-ins, according to a 21 Dec 1984 NYT article, including books, a soundtrack album, posters, pillowcases and numerous toys.
       As noted in the 10 Dec 1984 DV, the film’s simultaneous opening in U.S. and foreign markets on 14 Dec 1984 was unusual at the time. Additionally, the picture marked the first release in a “worldwide coding experiment” sponsored by Universal and Paramount Pictures that aimed to combat piracy; each of Dune’s 1,700 prints were branded with an identification code that would enable the film to be traced in pirated videocassettes. Although Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984, see entry) was technically the first film to be coded, the system was only used with domestic prints and there were problems in the Indiana Jones release that were corrected for Dune.
       According to a 5 Nov 1984 article in Forbes, the production, marketing and release of Dune was unprecedented; the film would need to gross at least $200 million to break even. Comparing De Laurentiis to Walt Disney, Forbes stated that the picture represented a new “globalization” in filmmaking that stemmed from communication developments in computer technology. The producer was reportedly building an industry around the anticipated success of the Dune franchise, signing actors to long-term contracts, building sound stages in Wilmington, N.C., and making plans to release ten new films in eighteen months.
       Although Dune received lukewarm reviews, it initially fared well at the box-office, grossing $6 million domestically its opening weekend, according to the 21 Dec 1984 NYT. A 12 Feb 1985 HR news item noted that the film opened successfully in the international market, earning nearly $9 million in the first month of its release. However, the picture failed to maintain its audience and various contemporary sources, including the 18 Dec 1984 LAT, reported rumors that Dune was “a disaster.” According to a 23 Jan 1985 Var article, the lack of interest in the film at the box-office was not reflected at bookstores; Herbert’s Dune topped the NYT best-seller list for weeks after the picture was released.
       As stated in the 26 May 1988 DV, the film was edited for television to “make sense to the average viewer.” Many scenes were cut to reduce the running time, but original footage that was previously edited from the 1984 release was added back into picture. A voice-over narration written by Francesca Turner was also inserted. Lynch refused to have his name associated with the edited version; when Dune aired on television, the director was listed as “Alan Smithee” and the screenplay was credited to “Judas Booth.”
       A new version of Dune, based on Herbert’s novel, not Lynch’s screenplay, aired on television as a three-part miniseries in 2000.
       Lynch’s Dune was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Sound.

      Before the picture begins, the following statement appears onscreen: “This film is dedicated to Federico De Laurentiis.” Federico De Laurentiis, the only son of presenter Dino De Laurentiis and brother to producer Raffaella De Laurentiis, was killed 17 Jul 1981 in a plane accident. The end credits include the following written statement: “Filmed on location in Mexico, and at the Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A., Mexico City, with the production crew of ‘La Seccion de Tecnicos y Manuales del S.T.P.C.R.M.’” The following acknowledgement also appears onscreen: “Gurney’s Baliset is Based on 'The Stick'® Created by Emmett Chapman.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Nov 1971.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1979.
---
Daily Variety
21 May 1981.
---
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1983.
---
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1983
p. 3, 10.
Daily Variety
19 Nov 1984
p. 3, 8.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1984
p. 3, 15.
Daily Variety
10 Dec 1984
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
26 May 1988
p. 3, 22.
Forbes
5 Nov 1984
p. 64, 66, 70-71.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1984
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1984
p. 3, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1985.
---
LAHExam
4 Sep 1983
Section E, p. 8.
LAHExam
22 Mar 1984
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1984
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1984
Section G, p. 1, 7.
New West
Feb 1981
p. 130.
New York Times
21 Apr 1973.
---
New York Times
14 Dec 1984
p. 18.
New York Times
21 Dec 1984
Section C, p. 10.
Omni
Nov 1984
p. 40, 98.
Screen International
17 Dec 1983
p. 14, 16.
Variety
6 Sep 1972.
---
Variety
23 Apr 1975.
---
Variety
16 Mar 1983
p. 31.
Variety
20 Jul 1983.
---
Variety
5 Dec 1984
p. 16.
Variety
23 Jan 1985.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A David Lynch Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Addl units cine
Addl units cine
Cam op
Cam op
Focus puller
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Clapper loader
Cam service
Cam maintenance
Spec photog
Supv gaffer
Best boy
Practical elec
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
Illustrator
Illustrator
Draughtsman
Draughtsman
Draughtsman
Draughtsman
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Const mgr
Prop master
Floor props
Asst props
Asst props
Chief carpenter
Chief carpenter
Chief carpenter
Chief painter
Chief painter
Chief painter
Chief painter
Chief painter
Chief painter
Chief sculptor
Chief sculptor
Chief plasterer
Chief plasterer
Chief plasterer
Chief plasterer
Chief plasterer
Chief plasterer
Chief plasterer
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Ward mistress
Ward cutter
Ward cutter
Ward cutter
Asst cutter
Asst cutter
Asst cutter
Ward buyer
Ward dyer
Milliner
Stillsuit const
Suit development
Suit head of const
Suit master foamsmith
Suit chief sculptor
Suit const
Suit const
MUSIC
Mus comp & performed by
Prophecy theme by
Adpt & addl mus
Prophecy theme comp by
Prophecy theme comp by
Prophecy theme comp by
Mus ed
Mus consultant
TOTO is:
TOTO is:
TOTO is:
TOTO is:
TOTO is:
Scoring mixing and eng
Scoring mixing and eng
Addl orch
Mus coord
Mus cond by
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd des
Foley ed
Foley ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mechanical spec eff
Creatures created by
Spec photog eff
Addl spec visual eff
Model unit supv
Foreground miniatures
Opt eff ed
Spec eff coord
Matte photog consultant
Front projection consultant
Spec eff floor chief
Spec eff floor chief
Spec eff floor chief
Spec eff floor chief
Spec eff floor chief
Spec eff electronic unit chief
Spec eff flying unit chief
Spec eff eng
Spec eff rigger
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Model shop supv
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
Mechanical creatures
Creature sculptor
Creature sculptor
Creature sculptor
Creature moldmaker
Creature moldmaker
Creature op
Creature op
Creature op
Creature op
Opt printer op
Opt printer op
Opt printer op
Opt printer op
Blue screen mattes
Blue screen mattes
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Opt coord
Opt coord
Opt tech
Visual eff graphics
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Graphic tech
Motion control
Administrative staff
Administrative staff
Administrative staff
Administrative staff
Motion control des and fabrication
Matte painter
Matte photog
Matte photog
Asst matte painter
Title lettering des
Titles by
Cloud timelapse by
MAKEUP
Creative makeup
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Chief hairdresser
Hairdresser
Wig maker
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl units supv
Addl units supv
Prod coord
Prod supv
Prod supv
Prod supv
Office coord accountant
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod office asst
Asst to Mr. Lynch
Scr supv
Dialect coach
DGA trainee
UK casting
Tech adv
Legal consultant
Medical consultant
Prod accountant
Accountant
Post-prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Unit pub/Project coord
Fight coord
Filmed in
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
COLOR PERSONNEL
Negative timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Dune by Frank Herbert (Philadelphia, 1965).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 December 1984
Premiere Information:
World premiere: 3 December 1984 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 December 1984
Production Date:
30 March -- late September 1983 in Mexico
additional photography completed 4 February 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Dino DeLaurentiis Corporation
Copyright Date:
12 February 1985
Copyright Number:
PA241493
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Prints
Filmed in TODD-AO
Duration(in mins):
137
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27507
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the year 10,191, a substance called “spice melange” is universally coveted because it extends life, expands consciousness and enables interstellar travel by “folding” space. However, the spice only exists on Arrakis, or “Dune,” a barren planet inhabited by blue-eyed Fremen who prophesize that they will one day be liberated by a messiah. A secret report generated by the Spacing Guild, a powerful business organization, notes that Arrakis is threatened by three neighboring planets: Caladan, the home of Duke Leto Atreides and his clan; Giedi Prime, the industrial land of malevolent Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; and Kaitain, the residence of the ruler of the universe, Padisha Emperor Shaddam IV. When the Guild sends a Third Stage Navigator, a fleshy monster, to Kaitain, Emperor Shaddam reveals that Atreides is secretly developing sonic weapons called Weirding Modules. In a preemptive strategy, Shaddam has temporarily permitted Atreides to take over the spice mines on Arrakis, but the Emperor plans to support Baron Harkonnen in a surprise attack. Before leaving, the Navigator identifies Paul Atreides, the son of the Duke, as a threat and orders Shaddam to kill the young man; however, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam telepathically overhears the command and tells her fellow nuns in the Bene Gesserit sisterhood to keep an eye on the boy. Meanwhile, on planet Caladan, Paul trains as a fighter in anticipation of his journey to Arrakis. The young man speculates that Shaddam and Harkonnen are planning a trap for his father. That night, the Bene Gesserit nuns arrive at the Atreides castle and the Reverend Mother berates her former pupil, Lady Jessica, for procreating with the Duke; young ... +


In the year 10,191, a substance called “spice melange” is universally coveted because it extends life, expands consciousness and enables interstellar travel by “folding” space. However, the spice only exists on Arrakis, or “Dune,” a barren planet inhabited by blue-eyed Fremen who prophesize that they will one day be liberated by a messiah. A secret report generated by the Spacing Guild, a powerful business organization, notes that Arrakis is threatened by three neighboring planets: Caladan, the home of Duke Leto Atreides and his clan; Giedi Prime, the industrial land of malevolent Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; and Kaitain, the residence of the ruler of the universe, Padisha Emperor Shaddam IV. When the Guild sends a Third Stage Navigator, a fleshy monster, to Kaitain, Emperor Shaddam reveals that Atreides is secretly developing sonic weapons called Weirding Modules. In a preemptive strategy, Shaddam has temporarily permitted Atreides to take over the spice mines on Arrakis, but the Emperor plans to support Baron Harkonnen in a surprise attack. Before leaving, the Navigator identifies Paul Atreides, the son of the Duke, as a threat and orders Shaddam to kill the young man; however, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam telepathically overhears the command and tells her fellow nuns in the Bene Gesserit sisterhood to keep an eye on the boy. Meanwhile, on planet Caladan, Paul trains as a fighter in anticipation of his journey to Arrakis. The young man speculates that Shaddam and Harkonnen are planning a trap for his father. That night, the Bene Gesserit nuns arrive at the Atreides castle and the Reverend Mother berates her former pupil, Lady Jessica, for procreating with the Duke; young Paul’s existence threatens the Gesserit mission to create a superhuman being called Kwisatz Haderach. Threatening Paul with a deadly weapon, the Reverend Mother orders him to place one hand inside a box that subjects him to intense pain. However, Paul’s capacity to withstand torture convinces the Reverend Mother that the boy is human, perhaps superhuman, and she tells him the prophecy that the sisterhood shares with the Fremen; a male messiah, Kwisatz Haderach, will drink the poisonous “water of life” on Arrakis and survive to save the planet from ruin. Meanwhile, on planet Giedi Prime, Baron Harkonnen and his henchman, Piter De Vries, tell the Baron’s nephews, Glossu “The Beast” Rabban and Feyd Rautha their plans to overcome the Atreides family. Sometime later, the Atreides arrive on Arrakis. The Duke’s loyal soldier, Duncan Idaho, reports that the Fremen are mistrustful and secretive, but they may prove to be a powerful ally against the Harkonnens. Atreides and Paul meet Doctor Kynes, who guides the men’s spacecraft to a spice mine. When the Duke spots an enormous, lethal worm headed toward the mine, he lands his craft to rescue the workers. That night, Paul is threatened by a weapon that hovers in the air; however, he seizes it just in time to save the life of Shadout Mapes, a Fremen housekepper who unexpectedly appears at his chamber door. Mapes recognizes Paul as the messiah and warns that there is a traitor among Atreides’ men. Meanwhile, news spreads of an imminent Harkonnen invasion and the fortress is safeguarded with a protector shield, but the Duke is injected with poison by his doctor, Wellington Yueh, who admits that he also disabled the castle’s generator so Baron Harkonnen can invade. Seeking to avenge Harkonnen for his wife’s murder, Yueh implants a toxic gas tooth inside the Duke’s mouth and orders the Duke to bite down on the capsule when the Baron approaches his body. Although Atreides refuses, Yueh takes the Duke’s signet ring and promises to save the lives of Paul and Jessica. Soon, the Baron captures the fortress. While the Duke is held hostage, Yueh is killed and Jessica and Paul are escorted into the desert to be eaten by worms; however, mother and son use their supernatural powers to commandeer the spacecraft. Back at the castle, Atreides mistakes Piter for the Baron and bites the tooth, killing himself and the henchman simultaneously. Jessica telepathically senses the death of her lover as Paul crash lands their spacecraft. Seeking shelter inside a cave, Paul finds his father’s ring in his coat and has a vision that foreshadows his new role as the Fremen’s savior. Paul vows to avenge his father’s death and later discovers plans for Atreides’ covert sonic weapons, the Weirding Modules. That night, Paul and Jessica are threatened by a tribe of Fremen, but Jessica impresses the leader, Stilgar, with her strength and promises to teach the natives her “Weirding Way.” As Jessica reveals herself as a Bene Gesserit priestess, Stilgar realizes that Paul is the messiah and nicknames him “Uso,” but Paul asks to be known as “Paul Muad’Dib” in reverence to the planet’s second moon. Joining the tribe, Paul is besotted by Chani, a beautiful woman who previously appeared to him in dreams. Jessica drinks the lethal “water of life” to become a Reverend Mother, but the poison stimulates contractions and Jessica gives birth to Atreides’ daughter, Alia, who is born prematurely with the powers of a priestess. In the next two years, Paul conquers the worms and commands a vast Fremen army. He strategizes that a self-imposed embargo of spice mining will force the universe to appreciate the Fremen’s power. However, the Spacing Guild is displeased by the threat to their spice-based economy and Emperor Shaddam is ordered to kill the new Fremen warrior, Muad’Dib. Meanwhile, Paul wakes from a nightmare that predicts the decimation of Arrakis and decides to drink the deadly “water of life” to prove he is the true messiah. When Paul survives, the Fremen prophecy is substantiated and the army prepares for their ultimate battle. Meanwhile, Shaddam arrives on Arrakis and princess Alia tells the Emperor and the Baron that her brother, Paul, is Muad’Dib. Riding on top of worms, the Fremen army attacks the fortress with Weirding Modules as Alia punctures the Baron’s spacesuit and sends him careening into the mouth of a worm. After conquering the castle, Paul kills the last Harkonnen, Feyd Rautha, and takes command as the planet’s benevolent ruler. As Paul declares his obedience to God and justice, the sky thunders with rain and Alia announces that her brother is the superhuman Kwisatz Haderach. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.