David Lynch Says He “Died a Death” Over Final Cut of Dune

David Lynch has expressed his latest regret for not negotiating a “final say” over 1984’s Dune. During an appearance on NPR’s Wild Card with Rachel Martin, the filmmaker said he “died a death” over how the movie turned out.

Lynch’s comment was in response to a question about which failure he’s learned the most from. “I knew already one should have final cut before signing on to do a film [like Dune],” he said. “But for some reason, I thought everything would be OK, and I didn’t put final cut in my contract. And as it turned out, Dune wasn’t the film I wanted to make, because I didn’t have a final say.”

He continued, “So that’s a lesson I knew even before, but now there’s no way. Why would anyone work for three years on something that wasn’t yours? Why? Why do that? Why? I died a death. And it was all my fault for not knowing to put that in the contract.”

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Lynch signed on to adapt Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel Dune after multiple failed attempts. This included one by Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose effort was the subject of a documentary titled Jodorowsky’s Dune. Executive producer Dino De Laurentiis was next in line to give the project a shot with Ridley Scott tapped to direct. However, Scott moved on to Blade Runner after being frustrated by pre-production delays.

After Scott exited the project, De Laurentiis brought in Lynch to write and direct. Lynch’s initial script with Eric Bergren and Christopher De Vore was scrapped, but his sixth attempt finally brought the film into production. More than six months of shooting produced a four-hour rough cut, with Lynch’s intended cut running closer to three hours.

Due to studio expectations, however, Lynch, De Laurentiis, and producer Raffaella De Laurentiis were forced to edit the film down to just over two hours. Though Universal Studios reportedly approached Lynch about doing a director’s cut of Dune, he was steadfast in his resistance to the idea.

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Lynch has been open with his thoughts about Dune in the past. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he described the experience “as a heartache” and though he likes “certain parts of it very much,” the film was ultimately “a total failure for me.”

As such, Lynch had no interest in watching Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation of Dune, which has since been followed by Dune: Part 2, the first of two sequels.

In other David Lynch news, he has reunited with Chrystabell for another collaborative album titled Cellophane Memories, out August 2nd via Sacred Bones Records.

Find out where Dune lands on our definitive ranking of David Lynch’s movies.

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