Cinema: The Fantasy Film as Final Exam

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The worm, then, is a sort of Moby Python, and young Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) is an Ahab with a happy ending. MacLachlan, 25, grows impressively in the role; his features, soft and spoiled at the beginning, take on a he-manly glamour once he assumes his mission. Like most of the other cast members, MacLachlan delivers his speeches as incantations from an old, old testament. The actors seem hypnotized by the spell Lynch has woven around them-especially the lustrous Francesca Annis, as Paul's mother, who whispers her lines with the urgency of erotic revelation. In those moments when Annis is onscreen, Dune finds the emotional center that has eluded it in its parade of rococo decor and austere special effects. She reminds us of what movies can achieve when they have a heart as well as a mind. -R.C.

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