Anyone who’s seen the new Dune movie knows that it can be pretty damn confusing; like what the hell does spice do exactly? How come some people have crazy magical powers and others don’t? Why is everyone totally cool with this blatantly Orientalist story in the year 2022? Plus there are a lot of weird names that get attributed to both planets and people. At least Jason Momoa kept things uncomplicated by simply reprising his role as Aquaman. 

David Lynch’s 1984 version of Dune was doubly in trouble, pairing a dense book full of otherworldly details with the filmmaker who would one day insert a backwards-talking interdimensional sentient arm into his network TV crime drama. In order to solve the problem of potential audience confusion, Universal, the studio behind the film, provided handouts at theatres playing Dune. The two-page document contained a glossary of terms, explaining the meanings behind words like “Fremen,” “Melange” and “Thumper.”

Of course there were some big problems with this; for one thing, there’s nothing like paperwork to ruin a fun night out. Imagine trying to lose yourself in the latest David Lynch movie while also pouring over loose sheets of paper like a strung-out H&R Block employee. The other, seemingly pretty obvious issue, is that movie theatres are dark. Were patrons supposed to bring reading lights with them? Or were they supposed to use their pre-show minutes fervently studying these terms as if they were the SATs?

Not surprisingly, regardless of the handouts, the movie was a disaster at the box office, enabling Lynch to make all of those critically-acclaimed films that in no way involved giant sand worms, and presumably leaving the studio with a warehouse full of unwanted Dune Activity Books. 

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Top Image: Universal Pictures

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