Brief Consideration: Dune (1984)


At a recent 70mm screening of David Lynch’s Dune, the film’s strange power captivated me, in the same manner, as witnessing an exotic dancer who rhythmically struts with utterly reckless abandon. The larger canvas was a fever dream of superimposed imagery, varying from sublime pictorial representations of thoughts to corny and clumsy juxtapositions that belong in a bad eighties music video. More notably, the picture did not seem like the shameful pariah of Lynch’s filmography that it once did in the past.

In between his depiction of warring families for control of a planet and its central resource, (Spice Melange) Lynch’s adaptation has the spirit of Transcendental Mediation coursing through its veins. The main character Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) has many internal thoughts about his mindset and overcoming anxiety and fear to realise self-actualisation and his destiny. In one early scene, he says in the midst of being tested, “I must stop fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that pricks total obliteration.”

Throughout the picture, there is a lot of lip-service given to the effects of Spice Melange, with a particular emphasis on its power to expand consciousness, which helps to fuel Paul’s transformation from man to Messiah. Lynch would never work on this large of a scale ever again, and yet there is a delightful irony to Dune being his most spiritual film. Paul Atreides is a conduit for Lynch to espouse why Transcendental Mediation is an essential tool for the creative process and this aspect being apparent in a work of such compromised vision is nothing short of remarkable.

About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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