Trivia / Dune

The book series:

  • Author Existence Failure: Frank Herbert died in 1985, leaving the Dune series on an apparent massive cliffhanger. His son and Kevin J. Anderson continued the series to mixed critical and reader response.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • Several quotes from the 1984 film are widely assumed to be from the novel:
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed,
    the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
    • Both adaptations gave us "the Spice must flow".
  • Doing It for the Art: Dune contains a sprawling universe adorned with myriad details and complicated histories, economics, and ecology. Frank Herbert loved to show his work, as detailed below. It began as work for a newspaper article ("They Stopped the Moving Sands"), but he became so enthralled that it became a passionate epic. He never even got around to finishing that article.
  • Outlived Its Creator: Since Frank Herbert's death, Brian Herbert (Frank's son) and Kevin J. Anderson have written a number of prequels and sequels.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The planned Grand Finale "Dune 7" was never finished, due to Frank Herbert's death.
    • Frank Herbert and Willis E. McNellynote  began collaborating on a Prequel novel focusing on the Butlerian Jihad. It also was abandoned due to Herbert's death.
    • Ridley Scott was at one point slated to direct a film adaptation of Dune. Peter Berg and Pierre Morel had been front-runners to direct a new remake in the early '10s, before the project fell into Development Hell.
    • The late Christopher Reeve of Superman fame was reportedly considered for the role at Paul in one of the earlier pre-Lynch periods - which makes the casting of Kyle MacLachlan even funnier as he would later voice Superman in the animated feature Justice League: The New Frontier.
    • Thanks to the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky's Dune, we know more of how Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1970s version of Dune would've played out:
      • Jodorowsky was planning to cast Salvador Dali as the Emperor, Orson Welles as Baron Harkonen, and Mick Jagger as Feyd. Also, Jodorowsky had cast his son as Paul Atreides, who then spent several months training in martial arts and other various fighting styles before the project was shelved. Gloria Swanson and David Carradine were also going to star.
      • Jodorowsky was also going to use different bands to compose different musical leitmotifs for each planet. He had already signed up the bands Pink Floyd for Caladan and the french prog band Magma for Giedi Prime.
      • Duke Leto was going to be accidentally castrated following a ritual bullfight. Paul would have been conceived as a virgin birth by way of his mother Jessica taking a drop of his father Leto's blood and using her Bene Gesserit powers to turn it into semen to impregnate herself.
      • Duke Leto's death in Jodorowsky's version would have been even more gruesome and graphic than his death in the book. In the original book, Leto dies of poisoning. In Jodorowsky's version, Leto would have been mutilated to death, his arms and legs cut off with a giant set on pincers, tortured in an attempt to find Paul's location. When Leto dies, the Baron in frustration then grabs the pincers and cuts off Leto's head and tosses it into a box with the rest of his severed limbs, leaving what was left of his body on the table.
      • Jodorowsky had intended to have the ending of his film be vastly different from the book, having Lady Margot Fenring killing Paul by surprise. But as he dies, Paul's consciousness then infuses into the planet Arrakis. Paul then mocks the Emperor, by moving about from person to person, including Alia, Stilgar, and Irulan, who when inhabited, all speak in Paul's voice. The non-corporeal Paul, fulfilling the prophecy of the Kwisatz Haderach, then causes Arrakis' terraforming to occur immediately, with the skies turning a brilliant blue. The movie then ends with the planet breaking orbit, to roam throughout space, to re-educate the universe.
      • The creative team included artists H.R. Geiger, Jean Giraud, Chriss Foss and Dan O'Bannon. The move got as far as conceptual art and storyboards before being scrapped.
    • The Road To Dune was based on Frank Herbert's original notes. The book changed rather drastically.

The 1984 film:

  • Actor Allusion: Siân Phillips has some experience playing a scheming matriarch.
  • Alan Smithee: David Lynch disowned the television version, using the alias "Judas Booth".
  • Approval of God: For what it's worth, Frank Herbert liked Lynch's film.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $40 million. Box office, $30,925,690 (domestic). It became an Old Shame to David Lynch and put producer Raffaella De Laurentis in the B-list of producers before she made a comeback with Backdraft.
  • Dawson Casting: Sting and Kyle MacLachlan, both in their mid-late 20s, played the 15 year olds Paul Atreides and Feyd Rautha.
  • Deleted Scene: Several scenes were cut from the theatrical release of the 1984 film and later restored to the extended versions, which is part of why they're so much longer. Of these, one of the most significant is the death of Thufir Hawat, a powerful scene in which Paul separates Thufir from the captured Harkonnen and offers him his life, only for Thufir to commit suicide rather than kill Paul. This omission creates something of a What Happened to the Mouse? moment in the original cut, as Thufir—one of the film's more important characters—can clearly be seen standing among the prisoners (between the Emperor and Gaius Mohiam) in one shot, and simply vanishes in the next; his disappearance is never explained.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Herbert strongly disliked the direction Jodorowsky's version took.
  • Executive Meddling/Screwed by the Network: Dino De Laurentiis pared the film down by hours and the result was a confusing mess to many people who didn't read the book. It was such a negative experience for Lynch that he actually turned down the chance to do a director's cut years later and had his name taken off the extended version that was made without him, so while the extended version does expand on and explain the overall universe and setting better it's still mostly guess work.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted. One scene called for Duke Leto to be strapped to a black stretcher and drugged. During one take, a high-powered bulb positioned above Jurgen Prochnow exploded due to heat, raining down molten glass. Remarkably, Prochnow was able to free himself from the stretcher, moments before glass fused itself to the place he had been strapped.
  • Old Shame: For Lynch, as he perceived it as "selling out".
  • The Other Marty: Virginia Madsen replaced Anne-Louise Lambert as Princess Irulan.
  • Star-Making Role: For Kyle MacLachlan which is also his movie debut. Afterwards, he started showing up David Lynch's other works such as Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks.
  • Stillborn Franchise: Any plans to adapt the other books in the series were scrapped when the film bombed. It was reported that David Lynch was working on the screenplay for "Dune Messiah" and was hired to direct a second and third "Dune" film.
  • Troubled Production: A cover article in Time Out referred to it as "the movie that cost the Earth", and as Cracked put it, "Dune changed hands in the wake of collapsed ruin so many times, it was like the Goddamned monkey's paw."
    • Plans to adapt Frank Herbert's 1965 novel to film went back over fifteen years, with the aforementioned Arthur Jacobs being the first to buy the rights to it not long after it came out... at which point he sat on them, consistently holding out for more money, until he died several years later.
    • In 1975, Chilean director Alexandro Jodorowsky, with backing from the Seydoux brothers (a pair of French producers), picked up the rights for $100,000. He invested more than $2 million into pre-production, writing a script for a 10-20 hour miniseries starring Salvador Dalí and Mick Jagger with music by Pink Floyd, before running out of money, with the rights going to the Seydoux brothers.
    • Italian independent mega-producer Dino De Laurentiis was the next to get involved, buying the rights from the Seydoux brothers for $2 million and turning to Herbert himself to write the script. When that didn't work out, he turned to Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Alien. That, too, didn't work out — Scott's vision for the film's aesthetic was similar to that of Alien, which de Laurentiis felt would've made the film feel too derivative, and there was also an argument over Scott and his co-writer Rudolph Wurlitzer writing an incest scene that wasn't in the book, which Herbert himself stepped in over. (Scott denies that the latter part happened.) Finally, just when it was looking like the film might actually enter production, Scott's older brother, Frank, died unexpectedly, forcing the emotionally devastated Scott to withdraw from the project entirely. Scott opted not to return after recovering, deciding instead to make Blade Runner.
    • Finally, de Laurentiis found David Lynch, who had just made The Elephant Man, and hired him as writer and director. The first argument was over casting; Lynch wanted to cast Freddie Jones, who he had worked with on The Elephant Man, and had to go against much resistance from de Laurentiis to do so. De Laurentiis planned to fire Jones, but changed his mind upon seeing the first dailies and went so far as to apologize to Jones for being skeptical of him.
    • Churubusco Studios in Mexico City was selected as the shooting location, due to the nearby desert and the devaluation of the peso making it possible to shoot the film for a quarter of what it would've cost in the US. Unfortunately, with that cut-rate cost came cockroach infestations, Mexico's byzantine bureaucracy, brownouts that necessitated having backup generators on hand at all times, a primitive phone network with only one direct line to the production office, worse smog than Los Angeles, and Montezuma's Revenge afflicting half the Europeans on the crew. In addition, Francesca Annis accidentally blew herself up with a gas oven and was hospitalized for several weeks. Production began in March 1983 and took six months to complete due to all the problems the production faced, coming in $4-7 million over its planned $38 million budget.
    • Problems didn't end with the production. The film was taken out of Lynch's hands in post-production, and diverged so greatly from his vision that he refuses to have his name attached to certain cuts of the film.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Ridley Scott was originally attached to direct. He left the production after his older brother suddenly passed away. Scott wanted to start working as soon as possible, but Dune would take far too long to reach production. Scott decided to leave the project in favor of Blade Runner, which was ready to start production immediately.
    • David Lean was offered to direct the film, but turned it down.
    • Val Kilmer was reportedly almost cast as Paul in the 1984 film version. Christopher Reeve also auditioned.
    • At one point, the David Lynch film was going to include incestuous themes between Paul and his mother.
    • Jack Nicholson was reportedly considered for the role of Gurney Halleck at one point. He also considered directing the film in the 1970s, but decided against it, realising what a huge undertaking it would be.
    • Feyd-Rautha was originally to have stepped out of the "steam bath" nude. Sting had agreed to shoot the scene nude, but the studio panicked and told the costume designers that they had to put something on him. The skimpy winged g-string he wore was made almost at the very last minute before the scene was set to film.
    • Glenn Close turned down the role of Lady Jessica, not wanting to play "the girl who is always running and falling down behind the men".
    • Helena Bonham-Carter was originally cast as Princess Irulan, but scheduling conflicts with A Room with a View forced her to leave the film. Kim Basinger, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kristy Mc Nichol, Tatum O Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan and Brooke Shields were also considered.
    • John Hurt was offered the part of Dr Yueh.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Dune Wiki.