I found David Lynch’s misplaced Dune II script

Greater than Dune: Messiah? —

The unfinished script, expose in an archive, reveals Lynch’s enthusiasm for Dune.

Kyle MacLachlan in Dune

Expand / Kyle MacLachlan in Dune, 1984.


David Lynch’s 1984 sci-fi narrative Dune is—in many ways—a misbegotten botch job. Smooth, as with more than about a ineffectively fearless movies sooner than it, the inventive thrives Lynch grafted onto Frank Herbert’s sprawling Machiavellian fable of warring pickle dynasties catch earned it moral cult traditional location. Today time, fans of the film, which earned a paltry $30 million on the box place of job and actually bruising reports upon its begin, aloof surprise what Lynch would catch carried out if given the replacement to adapt the subsequent two novels in Herbert’s cycle: Dune Messiah and Kids of Dune.

Franchising became the belief sooner than the major film crashed and burned, with Lynch and megastar Kyle MacLachlan (playing Paul Atreides) pickle to shoot both Dune sequels assist-to-assist in 1986. Runt spaceship units, costumes, and props from the major film had been positioned in storage by producer Dino De Laurentiis for expend on these practice-ups, whereas the director hammered away on a Dune II script. “I wrote half of a script for the 2d Dune. I finally obtained into it due to it wasn’t a astronomical fable,” he says in Lynch on Lynch, “more fancy a neighborhood fable. It had some finally cool things in it.”

At some level of the 2 years I spent striking together my guide A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune—An Oral Historical previous, I had no luck uncovering Lynch’s script for Dune II, despite Frank Herbert telling Prevue journal in December 1984 that he possessed a copy and became advising Lynch on it. “Now that we discuss the identical ‘language,’ it’s great more straightforward for both of us to construct progress, significantly with the screenplays,” Herbert urged the newsletter. Then, in July 2023, within the Frank Herbert archives at California Verbalize University, Fullerton, I stumbled on a slim folder with a sticky expose declaring “Dune Messiah script revisions,” addressed to the 2d floor of VFX man Barry Nolan’s place of job in Burbank where Lynch supervised the shoots and editing on Dune.

Within the folder lay the stuff of fans’ goals, by no method made public except now: 56 pages dated “January 2nd-thru-ninth, 1984,” matching Lynch’s “half of a script” statement. Full with penned annotations by Herbert, the Dune II script reveals Lynch became aloof inflamed by the subject topic, lending recent significance to minor particulars in the ’84 film. He also cracked a means to portray the complex fable of Herbert’s 1969 new Dune Messiah, effortlessly the least cinematic guide in the sequence due to its emphasis on palace intrigue over action, along with the inner turmoil of a reluctant dictator (Paul Atreides) in put of a mature hero’s drag. It would possibly maybe maybe perhaps well perhaps also ring of sacrilege to a pair, however Lynch’s Dune II would catch bested Herbert’s guide—and been one hell of a film.

Whereas scripting this portion I reached out to Lynch for observation, since his Dune II script had by no method been talked about in element publicly. He talked about, thru an assistant, that he “form of remembers writing something however doesn’t purchase ever ending it.” As Dune is “a failure in his eyes and now no longer a particular time that he likes to deem or focus on,” he civilly declined to discuss to me.

The Lynch contact

“I’m writing the script for Dune II. Dune II is completely Dune Messiah, with variations on the theme. … Dune Messiah is a really short guide, and great of other folks don’t fancy it, however in there are some finally nifty tips. I’m proper desirous about that, and I contemplate it will maybe perhaps well perhaps catch to also construct a really staunch film. It starts 12 years later, and this creates a complete recent pickle of complications. … It would want to catch a varied mood. … It needs to be 12 weird and wonderful years later.” —David Lynch, Starburst #78 (January 1985)

Of the many differences between Dune Messiah in new originate and David Lynch’s script, the splendid lay in the outlet pages, which element what occurs in the aftermath of the scene in the major Dune film when the Harkonnens bombed the Atreides’ fortress in Arrakeen, the capitol of the barren space planet Arrakis. In the hallway where Duncan Idaho (Richard Jordan) became shot in the head, his shielded pointless physique aloof floats on the floor, humming and sparking.

From out of the shadows emerges a smartly-known face: the Baron’s Doctor (Leonardo Cimino). Thought to be potentially the most easy speaking section created particularly for Dune by Lynch, we be taught this Doctor became finally Scytale, a form-intriguing “face dancer” mandatory to the pickle of Herbert’s 2d guide. Going assist to Dune ’84, you would possibly maybe well well perhaps maybe also now no longer catch noticed Cimino’s Doctor accompanied Baron Harkonnen all the strategy thru the Arrakeen attack. The Doc is absent after that, at the same time as the Baron yells creepily, “The put’s my doctor?” That’s due to Doc/Scytale absconded with Duncan’s physique. This Easter egg is Lynchian world-constructing at its simplest.

Scytale’s 12-300 and sixty five days odyssey reanimating “pointless Duncan Idaho” into the ghola named Hayt on the nightmarish Bene Tleilax world (talked about by Paul in Dune) constitutes the general opening 10 minutes of the script. Lynch calls the planet Tleilax “a darkish metal world with canals of steaming chemical substances and acids.” These canals, Lynch writes, are lined with “pointless purple slight test tube animals.” Initiating Dune II with a spotlight on Scytale foregrounds him to critical antagonist, no longer like Herbert’s guide where myriad conspirators work in opposition to Paul.

“Lynch’s current pickle all the strategy thru manufacturing of Dune became Giedi Prime, with equipment and flesh alterations becoming his inventive sensibilities,” says Designate Bennett, founding father of the DuneInfo web pages, after reading the unearthed script. “For Messiah, Lynch determined that Bene Tleilax shall be co-opted for his type, because it isn’t described in the brand new.”

The planet itself is urge by the Tleilaxu, sadists whose mere language (“Bino-theethwid, axlotl”) signals their routine nature, giving Kenneth McMillan’s grotesque Baron from the ‘84 Dune a urge for his cash. Here is an extraordinarily surreal/Lynchian passage, where Scytale sings a haunting “boogie tune”:

Scytale’s company are laughing and wildly rolling marbles below their hands as they witness Scytale reveal thru eighteen mouths in eighteen heads strung along with flesh that is fancy a flabby hose. The heads are singing in all places the purple room. One man opens his mouth and a swarm of slight other folks movement out singing accompaniment to Scytale. One more man releases a floating canines which explodes in mid-air inflicting everyone to receive slight and misplaced in the fibers of the captivating carpet. Though slight they all proceed to laugh, a laughter which is now extraordinarily high in pitch. Scytale (now with simplest one head) crawls up a wall laughing hysterically.

“The Bene Tleilaxu construct for deliciously weird and wonderful villains, excellent up Lynch’s alley,” says Dune scholar Kara Kennedy (Frank Herbert’s Dune: A Severe Associate), who I also equipped with a copy of the screenplay. “He lets free with them in his script.”

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