Dune, The David Lynch Files: Volume 2 (paperback)
As a young and inexperienced writer, Kenneth George Godwin met David Lynch in late 1981 to conduct interviews about the making of Eraserhead. The resulting article gained Lynch’s favour and in the Spring of 1983, Godwin found himself hired by Universal Studios to help document the production of Dune in Mexico. For six months, Godwin - working with cameraman Anatol Pacanowski - observed the chaos of one of the biggest, most expensive motion pictures made up to that time. On set and behind the scenes, Godwin witnessed David Lynch wrestling with the unwieldy beast, trying to impose his particular, idiosyncratic vision on what was for the studio and producer Raffaella De Laurentiis a massive commercial enterprise. Little surprise then that the movie which resulted is both magnificent and almost fatally crippled.
In this companion volume to his previous book on the making of Eraserhead, Godwin reprints an edited version of the diary he kept that summer in Mexico, along with photographs and documents, and transcripts of some of the interviews conducted by the documentary team for a video account of the production of Dune which was destined never to be completed.
Shock Cinema says:
The first time I saw ERASERHEAD was at a packed college screening in early 1979, and I wound up sitting through this intense, baffling, oddly humorous, and uniquely unforgettable work of art several times during its semester-long run of midnight shows. Author Kenneth George Godwin begins this fascinating 256-page book recalling his own initial encounter with ERASERHEAD, and how his essay on the film led to in-person interviews with David Lynch in 1981 and a lengthy making-of article for the Fall 1984 edition of Cinefantastique, which is reprinted here. That’s followed by Godwin’s unedited interviews, which were incorporated into his article, including four separate talks with Lynch — filling 80 pages of this book — discussing everything from the filmmaker’s early days in Philadelphia, his passion for Bob’s Big Boy, working a paper route during breaks in ERASERHEAD’s stop-and-start production, and potential future projects such as DUNE and RED DRAGON. There are also numerous conversations with cast and crew members, including Jack Nance (“Henry Spencer”); Laurel Near (“Lady in the Radiator”); Jack Fisk (“Man in the Planet”); assistant director and future “Log Lady” Catherine Coulson; production manager Doreen Small; cinematographer Frederick Elmes; sound editor Alan Splet; and even brief interviews with distributor Ben Barenholz and Mel Brooks (who hired Lynch for THE ELEPHANT MAN). Stuffed with insightful anecdotes and amusing trivia — from Nance’s entire wardrobe coming from Goodwill, to Lynch actually living on the set for Henry’s room — it’s an essential acquisition for any true fans of this mind-blowing film... Godwin’s next Lynch book takes a very different yet altogether engrossing approach. In early 1983, Godwin was suddenly hired by Universal (at David Lynch’s personal request!) to drive down to Mexico and spend the next six months documenting the making of DUNE. This 316-page book primarily consists of Godwin’s original journal entries, which follows an inexperienced 28-year-old guy from Canada as he’s tossed into the maelstrom of one of the most expensive movies of the era, and often winds up being less about the actual filmmaking process than the absurdity and chaos which transpired throughout this fabulous, bloated boondoggle. Although there were certainly lots of enjoyable moments — attending dinners and parties with the cast and crew, hanging out with Jack Nance, and occasional conversations with Lynch — Godwin also chronicles the boredom, exhaustion, depression, intestinal issues, corporate bullshit, grueling schedules, equipment problems, abrupt crew changes, and our author’s eventual realization that the film may turn out to be “an awful mess.” In the saddest development, although Godwin and accompanying cameraman Anatol Pacanowsky shot hours of behind-the-scenes footage on VHS, all of their work was apparently trashed by the thoughtless studio. In addition to an epilogue containing Godwin’s opinion about the finished DUNE, he includes personal photos surreptitiously taken throughout the production, call sheets, plus a handful of interviews that he managed to save onto audio cassette, including Lynch, Nance, Max von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow, Patrick Stewart, and special effects director John Dykstra. It’s a funny, crazy and extremely enlightening first-hand account of David Lynch’s “magnificent folly.”