A Cultural History
Hmmm...never heard of this one, but the desert scenes above remind me that I just watched David Lynch's Dune. I saw it in the cinema back when it was released and remember hating it, but I really loved it this time. Just don't watch the extended cut--there's many good reasons Lynch had his name removed from it! The theatrical cut is deeply flawed but nonetheless fascinating and the production design is astonishing. Anyway maybe I'll look up Star Crystal now just to have some relevance in this post!
I liked Dune when it first came ok. I thought it was a good stab at a big, big book and he did well to get as much in as he did. Always been intrigued by the extended cut thinking even more equals even better. Does it contain new scenes or just extended scenes?
The extended cut is just an ineptly put together mess. There are both new and extended scenes and a couple of scenes trimmed down to remove some violence (and the homoerotic vibe the Baron Harkonen gives off) which just shows how little respect these people had for Lynch's vision. By and large the extended edits involve dialogue that is self-consciously expository but not necessary to undersrand the scenes. Some of the added scenes are interesting but none of them move the plot forward and some outtright slow it down. I'd much rather have seen them as deleted scene extras. Perhaps Lynch could have integrated these better if he had made the extended cut himself but the whole thing is just badly (ineptly, sub 80's tv sci fi) edited--there's multiple uses of the same shots, jarring cuts, shots where the effects were not completed and even shots of production design paintings--in fact there's a 20 minute narration setting up the history of the guilds and culture that uses these paintings exclusively, and that new narration continues on and off throughout the cut. This prologue, by the way is completely unnecessary to understanding the events of the film and iss presented in lieu of the 2 minute Virginia Madsen intro which told us only what we needed to know. In one scene the actors voices had been dubbed as the original performers had strong accents and the editors inexplicably use undubbed dialog for a single line causing tthe guy's voice to completely change withinthe scene. Oh, and the music is just randomly thrown over top of nearly evvery scene regardless of its appropriateness. Overall there is nothing in the extended editioon that enhances the story and a.great deal that detracts from it as a coherent work. I walked away admiring Lynch's cut even more for its judicious editing, careful structuring and its respect for an audience's ability to follow a complex story without having everything spelled out. I know some people find the theatrical cut hard to follow, but I had no problem with that without having ever read the books, so I think Lynch did an amazing job presenting complex material.
Well on the strength of that evidence I find the extended cut guilty and sentence it obscurity. I shall make no effort to watch it or waste valuable life upon it. I've watched the original several times over the years and always enjoyed it. There's plenty in there to like and lots to love just as it is. Many thanks for such a passionate review
Ps--I really should write an essay about this as it's a prime example of how a producer can step in and completely ruin a director's vision. It reminds me in some ways of the "love conquers all" studio cut of Brazil vs. Gilliam's own, except that in that case there was an explicit edict from the studio to fundamentally change the whole tone and story. Here it's "let's tone down this unpleasant stuff and redo this bit and see how it comes out." As I said above the best reason to watch the extended edition is to appreciate David Lynch's own version even more. If you haven't seen it for awhile watch Lynch's cut first--I think you'll find it much better than you remembered.
Do it.- write that essayBrazil is a favourite film although again I've so far managed to avoid any questionable studio edits. Have read The Battle for Brazil and a number of Gilliam biographies that go into detail about them though and there doesn't seem to be any reason why I would waste my time.If you wrote these essays where would you publish them. do you have a blog?
I don't have a blog yet but I have lots of stuff I really ought to get out there. I have a piece comparing sexuality in classic Who vs. new Who, one tracing the influence of Captain Beefheart's music on punk and underground rock, an essay on the merits and problems in the film Heaven's Gate, one tracing George Carlin's style of social critique back to Diogenes the Cynic in 5th century BC Greece, a little something demonstrating that sex and violence was as intregal to 19th century folk music as it is to pop culture today and other little tidbits. Just need to get off my arse, really!
Let me know when that happens