'Dune' Director Denis Villeneuve Actually Thinks David Lynch's Version is Pretty Good

Director David Lynch’s Dune is among the most famous box office bombs in Hollywood history. The eclectic filmmaker behind films like Mulholland Dr and Blue Velvet did not have final cut on his film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel, and Lynch even had his name removed from a version of it that was later edited for television. Seeing the film morph into something beyond his control was clearly a painful experience for him, but the finished version wasn’t a total loss – in fact, new Dune director Denis Villeneuve thinks the Lynch adaptation is pretty good.

Denis Villeneuve, the filmmaker behind Blade Runner 2049, Prisoners, Arrival, and Sicario, is about to unleash a new version of Herbert’s sci-fi classic upon the world later this year. (The first trailer debuts on September 9, so be sure to head back here to check it out.) Speaking with Empire Magazine, which has a new Dune-centric edition out now, Villeneuve explained that he likes David Lynch’s Dune more than Lynch himself does.

“I’m a big David Lynch fan, he’s the master,” he said. “When I saw [Lynch]’s Dune I remember being excited, but his take…there are parts that I love and other elements that I am less comfortable with. So it’s like, I remember being half-satisfied. That’s why I was thinking to myself, ‘There’s still a movie that needs to be made about that book, just a different sensibility.’”

Villeneuve’s “glass half full” assessment seems to largely align with the critical consensus about Lynch’s Dune, which currently holds a 52% Rotten Tomatoes score. Hailed as a misguided spectacle, the 1984 movie starred Kyle MacLachlan as the protagonist, Paul Atreides, and featured an impressive group of actors, among them Virginia Madsen, Sting, Sean Young, Max von Sydow, and Patrick Stewart. Here’s the trailer, in case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about:

As for Lynch, the experience still stings for him – so much so that he won’t bring himself to watch Villeneuve’s movie. “I have zero interest in Dune,” Lynch said earlier this year. “Because it was a heartache for me. It was a failure and I didn’t have final cut. I’ve told this story a billion times. It’s not the film I wanted to make. I like certain parts of it very much — but it was a total failure for me.”

Villeneuve’s Dune arrives in theaters on December 18, 2020.

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