Dune (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes


Dune (1984)



Critic Consensus: This truncated adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi masterwork is too dry to work as grand entertainment, but David Lynch's flair for the surreal gives it some spice.

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Movie Info

David Lynch wades through dark waters in his adaptation of Frank Herbert's cult science fiction novel. In condensing Herbert's rambling and complex book by eliminating characters and compacting events, Lynch succeeds in rendering the story incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the novel and making the film look like a sketchy greatest hits collection of the book for Herbert fans. The story takes place in the year 10,191. The universe is governed through a system of feudal rule, presided over by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (José Ferrer), who appears to take his marching orders from something that resembles a talking vagina. In the kingdom are two rival houses -- the House of Atreides and the House of Harkonnen. Each house is trying to gain dominion over the universe, but that dominion can only be gained by the house that controls the Spice, a special substance that permits the folding of time. The Spice is only available on the desert world of Arrakis, or Dune. Shaddam, tired of the feuding between the two houses, permits the Atreides to take over the Spice production on Dune, while secretly working with the Harkonnens to launch a sneak attack on the Atreides and destroy them. The leader of the Atreides is Duke Leto (Jürgen Prochnow), who rules with the help of his concubine Jessica (Francesca Annis) and son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan). The rival Harkonnens are headed by the pus-oozing degenerate Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan, in a thoroughly through-the-roof performance) and his two unsavory nephews, Rabban (Paul L. Smith) and Feyd (Sting). When his father is murdered by the Harkonnens, Paul escapes to Dune, where he is greeted by the Fremen (the desert dwellers on Dune who prepare the Spice) as the messiah foretold in Fremen legend. Paul assumes the mantle of messiah and leads the Fremen in a revolt that topples the balance of power in the universe. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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Francesca Annis
as Lady Jessica
José Ferrer
as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Leonardo Cimino
as The Baron's Doctor
Brad Dourif
as Piter De Vries
Kyle MacLachlan
as Paul Atreides
Patrick Stewart
as Gurney Halleck
as Feyd Rautha
Dean Stockwell
as Dr. Wellington Yueh
Linda Hunt
as Shadout Mapes
Freddie Jones
as Thufir Hawat
Richard Jordan
as Duncan Idaho
Virginia Madsen
as Princess Irulan
Silvana Mangano
as Reverend Mother Ramallo
Kenneth McMillan
as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Sian Phillips
as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jürgen Prochnow
as Duke Leto Atreides
Paul L. Smith
as The Beast Rabban
Max von Sydow
as Dr. Kynes
Danny Corkill
as Honorato Magalone
Judd Omen
as Molly Wyrn
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Critic Reviews for Dune

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (14)

No matter how hard it tries to make Herbert understandable to those who find the saga resistible, or even to make Dune hang together for devoted fans, there is an overwhelming sense that this is familiar cinematic territory.

October 21, 2021 | Full Review…

This is a film that doesn't dramatically harness the vast forces it's gesturing at, but trundles determinedly along with very little variation of tone or pace.

September 24, 2021 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The convoluted narrative ultimately slips away from Lynch and in that failure lives the suspicion that Frank Herbert's novel is beyond adaptation.

September 24, 2021 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

I don't believe in guilty pleasures or 'so bad they're good' movies, but Dune challenged that philosophy more than any movie I can think of. So bizarre, twisted and perplexing ... that I appreciated its conviction and ambition.

December 3, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Unless you have the book committed to memory, you'll find it practically impossible to follow the story.

May 2, 2018 | Full Review…

As you would expect from visionary director David Lynch, it is a movie of often staggering visual power, the most ambitious science fiction film since "2001"; it's also stupefyingly dull and disorderly.

January 4, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dune


The desert roaming tribe of mystics/warriors called the Fremen (free men?) longingly await the heavenly arrival of their messiah. In the meantime powerful and arrogant otherworldly forces battle for control of a drug that bestows second sight, singularly produced on the same desert planet by a rather huge indigenous life form. The Jesus story then, made into sci-fi, Herbert's novels an veritable earthquake in that community, and wrestled with by David Lynch to bring to the screen. While stylistically vibrant, Lynch is brought low by the inability to transmit the unfolding wonder Herbert delivered: " ... a god walking amongst us!" that is the essence of the story, given by a multitude of intricacies. Lynch tries to follow the story, but only trips in those same intricacies, giving instead plodding pace and mysticism lost.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Ehhhhhh, its a decent sci-fi story. Its no eraserhead though and docent have the grittiness of blue velvet.

paul oh
paul oh

Super Reviewer

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