The ABC’s Of David Lynch’s Dune

I love David Lynch’s DUNE a lot. I like it so much that I try to buy merchandise from it’s original release whenever possible(next time you’re in the Austin store, check out the Sandworms). That being the case, I frequently troll eBay for DUNE merchandise and was lucky enough recently to have bought a Sardaukar Laser blaster still MIB and an original terminology sheet from the theatrical release of the movie. The first time I watched DUNE, I did so without ever reading the book, so I was completely lost. I felt like I was in college again trying to follow a professors lecture. At one point, I think I was actually taking notes trying to keep things straight. Apparently, a lot of people in 1984 hadn’t read the book either and were TOTALLY confused as to what a Gom Jabbar was, so in an attempt to give theater goers a crash course on Dune, the studio made this terminology sheet and sent it to theaters so they could give it out to people seeing the film. I honestly have no idea how much it would’ve helped being in the dark, but it exists and I’m happy to have grabbed one.

If you’ve never read the book and have yet to watch the movie, I scanned the sheet for you. Maybe you could print it out and keep it handy and relive what the 1984 theatrical experience would’ve been like.

I don’t think I was born when DUNE came out, so if any of you saw it theatrically and actually got one of these sheets in the theater, let me know in the comments. I love hearing about stuff like this.


19 thoughts on “The ABC’s Of David Lynch’s Dune

  1. Mike royer

    I was just telling a friend of mine about these sheets. I remember getting them when I saw dune in the theater. I won’t lie…I was terribly disappointed. I remember my dad glancing at the sheet and quickly checking out. The sheets are long gone btw

  2. Vince

    I’m old enough that I actually saw Dune in the theater back in ’84. I don’t have that poster, but I do have a few promotional book-covers and mini posters stashed away somewhere.

  3. Steve McI

    I read the books as they were released, in fact I have a first edition of the first book. It was published by Chilton, the folks who publish the auto-repair manuals.

    Anyway, I did some acid and went to see the movie in the theater when it came out. I knew the story and it was still hard to figure out what was going on. The acid probably didn’t help, but having to condense the story into 90 minutes was probably the biggest problem. The movie looked great though, I had a wonderful time watching it.

  4. Justin Post author


    It’s not a 1SH. It’s basically a leaflet. I think it’s probably around 8.5″x11″ and printed on newspaper stock. Super cheap as they were just giving this away so people could try and understand DUNE better. I grabbed an original off of eBay last week. I believe there are a few more available from the same guy if anyone is interested.

  5. David in Austin

    As a 5th grader in 1979 I read the original Dune trilogy and was enthralled. My friends and I played the old Avalon Hill war game quite a bit (nothing like going into battle as the Fremen with Stilgar). So we were well-versed Dune nerds. Went to the movie opening weekend and I remember getting the glossary sheet and immediately thought “Uh oh. If they are handing these out then they know the non-Herbert-disciples are going to be baffled.” When I look back it’s stunningly ambitious how faithfully they attempted to adapt the book. At the time I didn’t like the voice weapon, nor Sting; but Lady Jessica stole my heart and Gurney and Stilgar were amazing. Thanks for posting this!

  6. Shlanker

    I got one of those sheets when I saw the movie on it’s opening weekend with my sister. I was ten and went for the sic-fi, while my sister went to see it for Sting (Fade). I later saw it two more times in the theater. Even bought the soundtrack (by Toto) on vinyl, but passed on the cheap looking toys. They were not Star Wars (Kenner) quality.

    I remember that the film was a flop and panned by critics. Also, kyle mclaughlin (Paul) had a nervous breakdown during filming. Years later a longer edit of the movie popped up on TV and on video in Japan. It was a better edit of the movie in my opinion. I think Lynch had his name removed from that version in protest.

  7. iron jaiden

    I was in middle school in ’84 so my mom didn’t think I’d understand Dune. I wouldn’t have but it woulda been fun to see in the theater. While all you old farts were watching sandworms I was in the next theater watching Ghostbusters and Karate Kid. :P

    Note to Justin: your customer base is a bunch middle aged nerds. Stick with the 70s and 80s flicks and you’ll be golden :)

  8. Wiley

    Hey Justin, you should look online and see if you can find an old copy of the Dune Encyclopedia- It’s the only non-Herbert Sr. Dune related work worth reading, and it’s actually fantastic. (It was written sometime after the publication of Dune Messiah, I think. Also, Herbert Jr can go eat a dick.).

    I think I remember getting a card like that when my Dad and I went to see the film in the theater, but if I did, it’s long since gone.

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  10. Dw. Dunphy

    Wow, I remember when theaters had cool movie-related stuff for you in the lobby. I bought an official Raiders of the Lost Ark commemorative magazine the night of the opening. It was two bucks or something like that. Now, all they have is candy, ice cream, burgers, tacos, cappuccinos, nachos, chili cheese dogs and a stomach pump at the ready.

    I miss the old days.

  11. Mike Dedmon

    OMG – Yes, I got this exact same sheet. I had tried to read the first book and I’m not one to quit, but it ended up sitting on the shelf with a bookmark in the middle where I had just given up reading it. It was so complex to remember all the confusing words and descriptions that I wasn’t enjoying it at all.

    Then, we went to see the movie and I told my friends about this same frustration. We get there and they hand us these sheets and I just laughed! This is EXACTLY what they handed us in the theater. I live in Lubbock Tx at the time and was attending Texas Tech University.

    I’ve mentioned these several times over the years to friends when the subject of Dune comes up and nobody remembers these. I’m SO glad to see them and have some proof that they were REAL!

    Thanks for posting!

  12. Gregg

    Still have mine somewhere. Saw it recently in a pile of assorted saved weirdness. Movie actually had an intermission. Old school..

  13. Paul Atreides

    Thx for the link to eBay for this. I now have a great gift for my younger brother as Dune is his favorite film.

  14. Siq

    I LOVE Lynch’s Dune, it got slated here in the UK (and elsewhere) but I think it one of richest looking films ever produced – the soundtrack is awesome too.
    I have one of the rarest Japanese posters for the film, basically all the main characters in a manga style, with photgraphic images – I bought it from Westminster Comic fair in the early 90’s and I have never seen another one – it’s stunning!
    When are Mondo doing a Dune poster – and can you get Eric Tan to do it?! :)

  15. The Right Honourable Professor Spiggletit the IV, aka 'Spicey'

    I, too, love David Lynch’s ‘Dune’. I saw the film the year of its release, just before graduating high school. (I don’t recall pamphlets being handed out, but then again, my memory becomes more foggy each year I grow older. The same terms are featured in the back of the book, and I could swear I saw some movie-goers going into the theatre with the book in their hands) The book I had tried to read several times in the 1970s and early 1980s, but it never gripped me. The ideas did, but not the dialogue or the characters. Quite frankly (I think there’s a pun in there somewhere), I found the book complicated, long-winded in certain parts, confusing, and boooooooooring. Because of this I had much higher hopes for the film.

    Everybody talks about how confusing Dune was as a film (hence the reason most people did not like it). I, in my late teens, did not find the movie — at least compared to the book — confusing at all. In fact, were it not because of Lynch’s excellent motion picture, I would never have gone back to Herbert’s novel, read it several times since, and become a fan.

    Although I have read the book many times since 1984 and am now a fan, and although there are a few scenes from the book that I really wish had been put into Lynch’s film, I must say that I prefer Lynch’s interpretation, adaptation, and vision to Herbert’s literature, much in the same way I prefer Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ to the original book. When alternated I find Herbert’s Dune and Lynch’s Dune work very well together, feeding the imagination and furthering the possibilities of the story, far more than each does individually.

    Making a film of literature does not garner giving such ‘life’. Lynch gave Herbert’s Dune life. Lynch feels he failed. Perhaps he did, in his own mind. Perhaps he did sell out to the producers. Perhaps his artistic vision was compromised and given narrow parameters to work within. But often when faced with such limitations, those who are genuinely creative and full of resolve, will rise higher to the occasion than they would if pampered to.

    Lynch should be very proud of his stunning achievement. It isn’t perfect. It is remarkable.


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