David Lynch has come out to state that he “will never watch” Denis Villeneuve’s recent adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi novel Dune. Thanks, in no small part, to Lynch’s own issues with adapting the book into a movie.
Villeneuve’s film became a major critical and commercial success when it was released in 2021, earning six Academy Awards, including ‘Best Sound’, ‘Best Original Score’ and ‘Best Achievement in Cinematography’. Alongside these wins, the film, starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac and Jason Momoa, was also nominated for ‘Best Picture’.
Speaking in an interview with Cahiers du Cinéma, Lynch spoke out against the movie, stating: “I will never watch it, and I don’t even want you to tell me about it, ever”.
Lynch released his own adaptation of Dune back in 1984, but the movie was a significant critical and commercial flop. Starring a number of iconic names, including Sting, Patrick Stewart and Kyle MacLachlan, Lynch often describes his regret about how the project turned out.
The movie stands as a poignant example of a director’s struggle to distill a complex narrative into a coherent cinematic experience. Despite Lynch’s unique visual style and a strong ensemble cast, the film faced critical and commercial failure.
One major challenge was the vastness of Herbert’s intricate universe, filled with political intrigue, religious undertones, and intricate world-building. Lynch’s attempt to condense the rich source material into a two-hour film led to a convoluted and often confusing plot. The film’s surreal and dreamlike sequences, characteristic of Lynch’s directorial signature, proved divisive among audiences, further complicating the film’s reception.
Moreover, the film’s special effects and production design, while ambitious for its time, failed to meet the expectations set by other contemporary sci-fi films. The result was a visually inconsistent and sometimes awkward portrayal of Herbert’s expansive universe.
Dune struggled to find its audience and failed to recoup its substantial production costs, marking a setback in Lynch’s career and leaving fans of the novel disappointed. Over the years, however, the film has gained a cult following, appreciated by some for its ambitious scope and Lynchian aesthetic, yet its initial failure remains a testament to the difficulties of adapting complex literary works to the silver screen.
Speaking about the movie in a previous Q&A, Lynch exclaims: “I don’t even like talking about Dune really, but I’ve said before I knew when I was signing the contract that I was signing away final cut and from that moment I felt like, looking back, I started selling out”.