Universal Studios' Dune, directed by the notorious David Lynch, was released worldwide 30 years ago this weekend on Dec. 14, 1984. It remains one of cinema's sparking lightning rods, at once a colossal failure, a cautionary tale and a brilliant undertaking by one of the most controversial and visionary artists in motion pictures. This $45 million event movie, the first major adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 seminal work of science fiction, flopped hard when it first premiered at Christmastime in 1984, alienating audiences with its overstuffed plot, incomprehensible dialogue and a baffling deluge of Desert Planet exposition. When the orange haze of hatred settled, the film's domestic run netted just $30 million and put the brakes on many high-profile sci-fi projects for years.
Ripped by critics, bashed by Herbert loyalists and revered by diehard contrarians, Dune stands as an ambitious achievement that deserves far less of the harsh treatment it's garnered over the decades. It boasts elaborate costuming, stylish set design, arresting visuals by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, impressive special effects and a soaring score by Toto and Brian Eno. Dune also featured an international cast of stars led by Kyle MacLachlan, Jose Ferrer, Jurgen Prochnow, Sting, Max von Sydow, Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell and Sean Young.
Lynch backed away from the spotlight after its negative reception, blaming his lack of final cut as part of its epic implosion. It exists as a beautiful disaster, warts and all, and a sophisticated spectacle perhaps a few decades ahead of its time. In honor of Dune's 30th anniversary, expand your consciousness with this global gallery of 17 movie release posters, with some modern takes by Kilian Eng, Kevin Tong and Drew Struzan. As the Spacing Guild would agree: The art must flow!!