Dune Movie Poster Image




Weird, nonsensical, dated sci-fi epic has some cult appeal.
  • Review Date: April 16, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Under all the sci-fi names and gizmos and ideas, DUNE is essentially just a war movie. The hero, Paul, is apparently "the chosen one," and thus he never really has to make a choice; his destiny is laid out for him. When he finds his place, the first thing he does is declare war on his enemy. The objective is to free the desert planet Arrakis, but it's arguable whether or not the end justifies the means.

Positive role models

Paul is the movie's hero and main role model, but, being the "chosen one," he never really has to make any decisions on his own. He appears to be guided by the hand of destiny. Moreover, he uses his "chosen one" power to declare war and destroy his enemies.


The movie is filled with fantasy-style battles as well as some burning flesh, spurting blood, gore, and torture. We see knife fights (with stabbing), poison gas, kicking, biting, and punching, a severed head, scary monsters, and scary noises, and a special kind of voice-operated laser gun. We also see a scary floating killer hypodermic needle (a "hunter-seeker"). There is a scene in which a rat and a cat are strapped into painful-looking positions and locked in a cage. Notably, there is a young girl character (played by Alicia Witt) who wields a knife.


Paul and Chani are seen in bed together, with naked shoulders, but nothing else. Sting appears nearly naked, wearing only a tiny speedo, and Lady Jessica wears a sexy nightgown in some scenes. Characters flirt with her and tell her how desirable she is.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Everyone in the film is after "Spice," a powerful substance that allows users to travel through vast amounts of space and to live longer. There are also side effects, such as glowing blue eyes. The "Spice" is never demonstrated as being dangerous, but the behavior of the characters around it is a bit like drug dealers on earth. There are also some "drug trip"-like sequences.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that DUNE is a 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert's famous science fiction novel of 1965. It is filled with fantasy violence of all types including torture, gore, fighting, weapons, and some generally scary and disturbing imagery (including the quasi-torture of a cat and a rat and a young girl wielding a knife). The underlying theme is about a "chosen one" who never has to make any decisions for himself, and then simply declares war on his enemies. Characters in the movie are after a drug called "Spice," which is shown to be powerful enough for men to go to war over. Young science fiction fans may want to see this (as well as a 5-hour TV miniseries remake from 2000), but the immense novel is compressed to the point that the movie is almost nonsensical, and the visual effects have dated badly. Director David Lynch also tries to put his own personal spin on the material, which will at least make the movie more interesting to Lynch fans.

What's the story?

In a bizarre futuristic galaxy, the evil House Harkonnen and the good House Atreides are locked in war over the production and distribution of a drug called Spice that enables users to travel vast distances and extend their lives.The spice exists only on one planet, Arrakis, or "Dune." Unfortunately, the planet is also patroled by monstrous killer worms. The horrible Baron Harkonnen strikes first and kills the beloved Duke Leto, but he doesn't realize that the Duke's son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan) is actually the "chosen one," destined to trave to Arrakis and lead the native Fremen to freedom. He learns some mystical battle tactics, forms an army and launches an attack on the Harkonnens. But can Paul survive the ultimate test of the "water of life"?

Is it any good?


DUNE is mainly interesting as a curio in the career of the brilliant, bizarre director David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive). Fans may enjoy combing through the movie to find his unique touches, but his detractors will argue that it's just more "weird for weird's sake." Unfortunately, anyone looking for a satisfying and coherent science fiction epic will have to look elsewhere. Lynch compressed the 500-page novel into an awkward 137-minute movie, resulting in an overuse on terrible, expository dialogue and characters "thinking" out loud to explain their motivations. (A 177-minute version was assembled for television, but Lynch did not approve it and removed his name from it.)

However, fans of "bad" sci-fi movies may get some enjoyment out of the movie's odd visual effects and the cheesy score by Toto and Brian Eno certainly has some majestic moments. The impressive ensemble cast may also provide some pleasures, including Patrick Stewart, Virginia Madsen as the narrator, Brad Dourif, pop star Sting, Max von Sydow, a very young Alicia Witt and Jack Nance (the star of Lynch's Eraserhead).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of being "the chosen one." What does this mean? Does Paul make any decisions of his own? Does he conquer any fears? Does he use his power wisely?

  • Does the "Spice" in the movie look like a good drug to take, or is it scary? What are the side effects?

  • How did the violence in the film make you feel? Was it exciting? Was it scary?

  • Was there anything in the movie that scared you? Why? Did it have to do with pictures or sounds?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 14, 1984
DVD release date:March 31, 1998
Cast:Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young
Director:David Lynch
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:137 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13

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Adult Written byArkmabat January 18, 2014

Not for young children (even 13 is probably too young)

This is a very violent movie and there is an odd homosexual undertone. Certainly not for young children. I think this movie would be given a higher rating if or when it's redone. A good friend of mine referred me to this movie but I must say, I'm disappointed. The end message didn't even sit right with me. The best part of the movie are the giant worms (modeled with clay?) but they aren't even shown that much. The majority of the movie is mostly just people talking, with obscene violence and torture thrown in-between.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn May 1, 2012

David Lynch's spectacular mess of a movie is still lot's of fun to watch

David Lynch's cult classic, Dune, is as sporadic, messy and crudely entertaining to watch today, just as it was back when it came into theaters in December of 1984. Back than, it was hyped up as being a huge success, with a, at the time, gigantic budget of $45,000,000. But, imagine everyone's surprise when audiences and critics alike saw it, and were stunned by how truly awful it was, and, because of this, it completely flopped at the box office and severely hurt the career of the great director, David Lynch. But, given the fact that he just needed a couple years of solace, two years later, David Lynch created Blue Velvet, his quintessential masterpiece, so, if it were not for Dune's failure, he would have never learned from his mistakes and attempted to tackle a much smaller, and more personal film, and for that, Dune must be thanked. But, outside of all this, Dune may be one of the most screw loose, bizarre movies that has ever come out of a major movie studio, and, having had read the 1960 science fiction epic novel that this movie is based upon, I actually was surprised to find that it's completely mess of a narrative and script were actual more or less on par with the novel. Now, let us not forget that the novel itself was also a bit of a sporadic, sprawling epic of bizarre proportions, for sure, but that the film actually did it a decent enough job as a tribute. But, that is not the real reason why I love Dune so much. No, the real reason is because Dune gives us so many strange yet morbidly memorable images, characters and set pieces that you just can't help but go with it. The film bounces from character to character, for location to location, that so many people at the time couldn't figure out what the story was really about, overall, and I guess, even today, some people are still confused. But, as far as I see it, Dune is a beautiful mess of a movie. But, considering that this was also still one of the first few movies to be given the still, at the time, moderately new PG-13 rating back in 1984, some of the content in the movie is fairly off from what would be expected for the Rating nowadays, but, here we go, anyway: There is frequent, weird and occasionally gruesome imagery, with severe scenes of peoples nipples being torn off completely on-screen, with blood oozing out, a cow having it's tongue ripped off, gigantic worm-like creatures eating people, and, of course, the main villain who is just so peculiar and sickening to look at, considering that eh is almost entirely and completely covered in disgusting boils and zits. Also, there is brief but moderate sensuality, with a few bedroom scenes which are often cut short. And, finally, there is completely non-existent profanity, except for one key scene, where both d-mn and h-ll are used several times. So, as strange and bizarre a film as Dune is, one cannot help but enjoy it, and for that, it is a film that I think is worth watching over and over again.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares June 7, 2009
The plot is a mess, but director David Lynch shows his genius here with the visuals, particularily the set designs, and there is a slight intelligence. I'd watch it over Star Wars any day.


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