From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Dune is a 1984 science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and includes an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles, including Sting, Jose Ferrer, Virginia Madsen, Linda Hunt, Patrick Stewart, Max von Sydow, Siân Phillips and Jürgen Prochnow, among others. It was filmed at the Churubusco Studios in Mexico City and included a soundtrack by the band Toto. As in the novel, the central plot concerns a young man foretold in prophecy as the "Kwisatz Haderach" who will protect the titular desert planet from the malevolent House Harkonnen and save the universe from evil.
After the success of the novel, attempts to adapt Dune for a film began as early as 1971. A lengthy process of development hell followed throughout the 1970s, during which Arthur P. Jacobs, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Ridley Scott all tried to bring their vision to the screen. In 1981, David Lynch was hired as director by executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.
The film was not well received by critics and performed poorly at the American box office at the time. Upon its release, director David Lynch distanced himself from the project, stating that pressure from both producers and financiers restrained his artistic control and denied him final cut.
Fans of the Dune series are polarized by the movie, although in the years since its release, the film has become a cult favorite, and at least three different versions have been released worldwide. In some cuts of the film Lynch's name is replaced in the credits with the name of a fictional director Alan Smithee, a pseudonym used by directors who wish not to be associated with a film for which they would normally be credited.