I’ve seen Lynch’s Dune more times than I can remember. On VHS (standard and widescreen). As clips embedded in the CD-Rom version of Cryo Interactive’s classic (at least it was to me when I was a kid) videogame. On innumerable DVDs (TV cuts included but not that Japanese DVD edition I held in my hands then saw the £100 price tag in the Cinema Store circa 1999) and finally on one of the three different Blu-Rays I’ve imported from all over the world.
It’s an obsession.
I once tried to win some of these at a hospital fund-raising fete I went to with my Nan. I tried and failed.
That it’s a complete disaster of a film is pretty much accepted by this point (a perception egged on by Lynch). The second and third acts are truncated to the point of parody, doubly so if you luxuriated in the Freeman sequences from the novels, here reduced to a few brief scenes. And then there was a massive, planet-wide uprising that stopped all Spice production…in a montage…for five minutes.
But it’s worth every oblique glimpse into the film it could have been. If you place the screen in your peripheral vision you can sometimes catch the true film underneath. So scarred by the experience was Lynch that he barely speaks of it, only rejecting that there was a 4 hour cut and talking extensively about the Mexican wood used in the sets. It’s a folly then, a gigantic $50m folly and it’s so glorious and transcendent and perfect at being just that. It manages to be both a fantastic evocation of the novel and completely apart from it.
And then there was Toto.
Given Lynch’s hatred of the 70s and pretty much everything Toto represent I’ve never been able to understand their involvement. What’s even more baffling is that what came out is this weird, operatic, digital new age music that’s not anything like the plains down in Africa. Not universally, of course, there’s still some questionable stuff on there.
There’s a simple theme that runs throughout that Lynch seems to have locked onto as it acts as a bed to the vast majority of the film, no doubt pushing out some of the other pieces Toto wrote. The best of several realisation of this being ‘Paul Meets Chani’. Full on digital pan pipes from the off the Vienna Symphony Orchestra soon gets in on the act, creating this rolling, multifaceted look at the same simple theme over and over again. Perfectly grandiose and mystical and operatic in all the ways the film tried (and eventually failed*) to be.
What seemed to make vastly more sense was getting early 80s Eno involved. Straight off the back of the Apollo documentary Soundtrack (later re-edited and released as For All Mankind) Eno was deep in the planetary scale Ambient. His Dune is the Dune of the desert night. Of spiritual forces flooding up from beneath the sand and into the stars. Of a God’s eye view of the dunes and a psychic sense of the worms that move below them. It’s called the Prophecy Theme and it perfectly compliments Lynch’s symbolic interpretation of Pauls precognition. Apparently Lynch shot far more of these symbolic montages than made the film. It’s also rumoured that Eno had produced an entire Dune score and that this was just an excerpt. That I’ll never experience either of these things is deep and unremitting sadness.
There are several versions of the soundtrack out there. One from 1984, then a different version from 1997 with all sorts of technical problem, then finally a 2001 version with the technical issues fixed but which only got a tiny release. Filmtracks has loads of good info here.
Lynch’s Dune is 30 this year and I love it more than ever. And that, not its anniversary, is why I wrote this post.
Bonus Lynch interview from back when he seemed quite optimistic about the film.
You may have caught us at a time in our lives when we’ve been rewatching Interstella 555 and remembering Daft Punk at the mighty heights of their firepower. Luckily this also coincided with us discovering Thony Ritz – think Daft Punk without all the new shit bits, or if The Crescendolls were a real band and this was their difficult second album, or maybe it was all just a dream.
Today we would like to introduce you to a new project from our former full-time contributor, and all-time collaborator, Scott J Pearsall. ‘The Story of Our Founder’ is a weekly web serial, which charts the adventures of entrepreneur Cliff Fiskal on his capricious quest to develop an incredible app and found a successful company, in spite of the many obstacles put in his way by a strangely purgatorial startup scene.
There now follows the first part of Cliff’s escapades. You can read part two and beyond here.
The Story of Our Founder – Part 1.
It was still pitch dark when Cliff Fiskal’s smartphone lobbed its balafon siren into the dawn void. The cheerfully synthetic ethnic loop failed to fully awaken him, inspiring instead a dyspeptic tableau in his mind. He stirred stiffly, muttering something indecipherable about a distant civilisation. After several minutes of trying, the vibrations which played psychotic counterpoint against the gleeful melody finally achieved their goal, and the pre-patented swipe gesture of full consciousness slid the morning slickly into view. Cliff forced out an arm from the nest of bedclothes where it had been hiding from the night’s chill and reached over to silence his touch-screen tormentor, knocking an unidentified object to the floor in the process.
Despite the disturbance, man and device were quickly reconciled when the warm prospect of today’s agenda began to illuminate Cliff’s face. And what was on today’s agenda again? The intensity of the dream had thrown him off course a little. Should probably mention this to the doctor later. Ah yes, of course, the doctor! This was why he had set his alarm so early. For some unknown reason, Cliff had been summoned to the practice of Dr. Kranz as a matter of the highest urgency, yet the only appointment available for him was at seven thirty in the morning.
Cliff pondered for a moment as to why he didn’t seek out a different doctor, for it was not unusual to be booked into the nether regions of Kranz’s schedule. Over the years, his charmlessly tepid practice had achieved an inexplicably immense new popularity with the city’s social climbers. One could even go as far as to say that the place had become a kind of exclusive club, a closed society of treatment seekers to which an extended degree of notoriety, patience and luck were now amongst the entrance criteria.
It wasn’t that Kranz himself encouraged this; he was a humble man, apathetically content with life, and his increasing inattentiveness to his job made him oblivious to the endlessly morphing clientele. It was the neighbourhood around him that had changed somehow; twenty years ago a typical day was comprised mainly of bunions and colic. Now it was high blood pressure, burnouts and breakdowns.
This was of course why Cliff still went there, in spite of the fact that Kranz was actually a terrible doctor; the thought of missing out on any kind of opportunity for social filigree made him itch. But unfortunately for Cliff, at this ungodly hour, the rest of Doctor Kranz’s most sought-after patrons were in their beds asleep, or journeying merrily home from a significant event, still very much high in spirits.
‘Lucky them’, Cliff thought to himself as he pulled out his tablet computer, making sure to check his hair in its lignite reflection before switching it on. While attempting to come to terms with the aroma of fungal carpet that hung in Kranz’s waiting room, he opened an electronic copy of his favourite magazine, Nihilist CEO. Swiping blearily through until he found something that caught his attention, he stopped at a page entitled;
’10 Books You Must Read Before the Memory of Them are Erased by Death.’
by someone called Chip Aspen. The copy went on to explain in a somewhat braggart style;
‘This is not just another must-read list. Here at Nihilist CEO we make no bones about the fact that one day we’re all going to shuffle off our mortal coils. Bring it on, we say. This may sound bleak, but it’s precisely the reason we have to make such an enduring impact with our products while we’re alive. We are only finite, but if we get it right, the brands that we create will live on long after us, and ensure that we ourselves are remembered for centuries to come. So, with this in mind, check out our top ten list of must-read books written by our most beloved gurus of innovation, and push your business horizons into the future.
1. The Digital Dubois by Equal Mcdowell
In 1925 the French artist Alphonse Dubois caused a major scandal when he submitted a virus to an exhibition as a work of art. However, this is today seen as one of the pivotal moments in the development of twentieth century art. In this equally controversial new book, über-successful entrepreneur Equal Mcdowell explains how the same techniques and modes of thinking are necessary for the conception and growth of a technology start-up.
2. Money and Time by Dori Gerber-Snody
Time is Money, or so says the old adage. But is it really? This weighty tome from top business analyst Dori Gerber-Snody will really make you question the amount of time you spend in the office. Pulling together cutting-edge management techniques, game theory and even a little philosophy in order to pull apart the very concepts of ‘time’ and ‘money’ it’s not an easy read. But those prepared to finish it will never look at a banknote, a clock, or the world in the same way again.’
A rutted voice barged its way into Cliff’s reading session, ending it abruptly without warning or apology. The voice belonged to a rather fearsome looking nurse, who scanned Cliff with disdain before beckoning him to his appointment with a trace of hidden tenderness.
The consultation room gave an air of uneasy comfort; on the one hand, every attempt had been made to give the room an atmosphere of high medical competency. On the other, it failed to achieve this due to an overall shabbiness; the posters offering advice for the prevention of various ailments were replete with stains of a seemingly human origin, and the plastic skeleton in the corner looked keen to escape.
The doctor was hidden partially behind a humungous collection of yellowing papers, which were stacked untidily in piles of varying sizes, forming a kind of battlement across his desk. It was never clear to Cliff, whether this structure had been created through negligence or purpose. The stacks seemed always to be the same height, suggesting that these presumably important and confidential documents had been never so much as looked at.
Kranz muttered something in his native language, which Cliff, as a foreigner who had thus far skilfully eluded all study of it, didn’t understand at all. He threw a blank look in Kranz’s direction and the two of them spent a moment together in semantic awkwardness.
The doctor made another attempt in a language he thought the patient could understand, still peering through his thin-rimmed metal glasses with rehearsed enthusiasm.
“Yes, hello to you, Mr. Fiskal, thanks for coming back again at such short notice.”
Cliff basked momentarily in the gesture’s rhetoric gratitude, and shifted into a pose so conceited, the only way it could have become more conceited was a if a light breeze began to blow across his face, delicately accentuating the floppiness of his hair.
“No problem, Mr. Kranz, I hope it’s nothing serious?”
The question’s tone suggested the potential brokering of a deal on the matter.
Kranz’s throat issued a legato groan so ambiguous, that not even the world’s greatest empath could have discerned whether its denotation was positive or negative. Cliff felt a note of sympathy when he witnessed the practitioner laboriously trying to retrieve information from inside the obsolete looking beige computer, that loomed like a ruined keep from behind the paper mounds. Seeking comfort, he slid a hand inside his pocket and began to caress the high-grade surface of his smartphone.
“So, yes, we have the results of your test here, and I’m sorry to tell that we found a Bellicose Pessimosis on your Pharynx.”
The patient’s only reaction was to add an extra layer of cockiness to his pose with a well timed sweep through his hair. He resisted the urge to pull out one of the three internet-enabled devices that he had on his person and search for the term, preferring instead to let the wiry haired practitioner explain it to him.
“And what is that?”
Kranz, expecting this revelation to have more of impact, was filled with a mixture of disappointment and concern when his patient responded to the grave news with all the anxiety of an under-sexed peacock. Perhaps there was something in his delivery, as it was only recently he’d been forced to dispatch such weighty disclosures to his patients.
Some time ago the local specialist clinic, to whom a matter like this would normally been outsourced, had become entirely automated. This meant that, although it continued to do its work at a much speedier and more efficient rate, there were no more human consultants working at the facility. Instead, the results were now mailed back to the general practitioner, essentially re-outsourcing the unwanted task of having to give patients their unpleasant news.
He took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry to tell you, Mr. Fiskal, that it’s an exceptionally rare kind of tumour”
“OK, we can deal with that, I’m still good.”
Cliff was beginning to lose his sheen a little.
“Bring it on.”
“I’m not sure you understand, Mr. Fiskal, the situation is rather untreatable, and I’m sorry to say, terminal.”
Dr. Kranz now utilised silence as a method of confirmation, which seemed to bolster the moment with the correct degree of exigence. Perhaps he was getting better at this after all.
“Please, try not to worry, Mr. Fiskal. The tumour is currently benign, and not a threat to your everyday health. However, medical science has advanced to such a degree, we are now able to pinpoint the exact time it will become malignant, and from there exactly how long the patient will have to put their affairs in order.”
There are few instruments created by human beings that can rival the beguiling organic complexity of their own voices. The very notion that such plaintive sounds could emanate from the dirty gut of mankind and caress its penitent face, is a wonder to contemplate.
The Book of Days is also a movie, which is watchable in its entirety elsewhere on the internet, but, as we encourage you to buy things on this website, will remain yours to Google (OK, here’s a clip).
But let us here focus on the music, which is truly an auricular deity; a piece of contemporary(ish) choral music too divine to ever find itself chained up in a Gregorian dungeon, where bikers dressed as monks stub out cigarettes on its chest. No, ‘Dawn’ is a rare moment when are able to hear the human stitching which gloriously binds the voice of a great celestial being.