Sci-fi original of 2024's biggest cinema hit now available on Netflix – 40 years on

Compare Dune's new versions with this original

Dune (1984)
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Denis Villeneuve's two Dune movies have been a sensation in the last five years, with each shifting cinema tickets by the bucketload and proving that sci-fi is as popular as ever with audiences.

They've also disproved the longstanding narrative that Frank Herbert's novel was impossible to satisfyingly adapt, a story that wasn't helped by the long and slow development of the last attempt to do so – David Lynch's 1984 version. 

That movie just hit Netflix in the US, at the beginning of June, so if you've never seen it and fancy comparing and contrasting it to the new versions, it's a great way to spend an evening. 

Lynch's movie is, in one key way, more ambitious than even Villeneuve's – for all the latter's amazing sense of scale and commitment to weirdness. Principally, the 1984 flick tries to cover the entirety of the novel Dune in one movie – and not even a drastically long one.

Coming in at under two-and-a-half hours, its length is fairly normal these days, but it still has to really zip through certain segments in order to get things moving quickly enough. 

Where Villeneuve's first movie ends with Paul earning the right to travel with the Fremen natives on Arrakis, and the second concludes with his fateful fight against Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, the 1984 version crams that all into its runtime.

This means there are some time skips and weird transitions, but the movie also kees in some things that Villeneuve cut out, like the bizarro Spacer's Guild, and a lot more of Paul's creepy younger sister. 

It landed to incredibly mixed reviews in 1984 after years of production hell, and a 37% score on Rotten Tomatoes underlines that fact, but the audience score of 65% (with more than 500,000 votes) should tell you it's more complicated than critics could account for.

After all, so far on from its release, its ambition and tonal oddity net it much more credit than it did at the time, and it makes for a really interesting companion to the modern, far more successful (and, honestly, better) blockbusters. 

So, if you're a Dune fan and want to explore its universe a little more, Netflix might have just become the best streaming service for you. 

Max Freeman-Mills

Max is a freelance writer with years of experience in tech and entertainment. He's also a gaming expert, both with the games themselves and in testing accessories and consoles, having flexed that expertise at Pocket-lint as a features editor. He has tested all manner of tech too, from headphones and speakers to apps and software.