This weblog has always had the primary purpose of helping me remember what I’ve done, with the secondary purpose of being entertaining*. So when I start updating less frequently, I start forgetting what I’ve done as a result. A quick recap of the prior week, so as not to lose everything to the sands of time.
Misch and I watched David Lynch’s Dune on Tuesday. This was my first time seeing the movie in at least fifteen years, and Misch’s first time ever. I forgot how goofy and stilted the movie is: how poor the acting, how abrupt the pacing, how incomprehensible the stakes of every dramatic scene. The first twenty minutes of the movie are all exposition (e.g., “Dr Yueh, do you have any information on the worms of Arrakis?”). The scene in which Jessica becomes the Reverend Mother of the Fremen sietch might as well happen in an entirely different movie.
Despite the paucity of its budget, the Sci-Fi channel’s Dune miniseries, sixteen years later, dwarfs Lynch’s in every crucial respect. The painted backdrops look a little phony; everything else shines. The acting is exceptional, with Ian McNeice stealing the show as Baron Harkonnen: a true Shakespearean villain, equally entertaining and despicable. With the additional time available, John Harrison can address themes of Herbert’s which Lynch couldn’t: family, trust, religion, politics, natural resources and the way all those factors choke against each other.
Not only does the 2000 miniseries adhere more faithfully to Herbert’s text, Harrison actually improves upon it, giving a crucial role to the sidelined character of Princess Irulan. That’s an object lesson in Harrison’s superiority.
Peter Berg has been attached to a Dune remake for some time now, and was talking about its franchise potential as recently as a month ago. But IMDB still lists his version of Dune with a 2010 date, which would only be possible if he’d started filming a year ago. Since the script he’s going off of currently is 200 pages, and since the future of Peter Berg’s career hinges on Hancock 2 and Battleship: The Movie, I’m not holding my breath. Though if anyone can accurately capture the corruption of House Harkonnen and the scheming of the Padishah Emperor, it’s the director of Very Bad Things.
I’ve had a .celtx file on my desktop for the last week or so, jotting notes for a screenplay for Dune. As far as writing projects go, this is perhaps one step up from fan fiction: no one’s ever going to come asking after my unsolicited spec script for a movie that David Lynch, the Sci-Fi Channel and Peter Berg have all taken a swing at**. I’m not devoting a lot of effort to it: a few pages every time something occurs to me. But it’s good practice. If I can boil down a 500-page novel about every element of the human experience to a 145-page screenplay, nothing should remain out of my reach.
* “Secondary? I would have figured quaternary or lower.” There, see? I made the obvious joke for you. You going to need a ladder for the rest of that low-hanging fruit, or are you all set?
** I should note this isn’t the long-term writing project I’ve been working on since the beginning of October.