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1984 Album
1997/2001 Albums
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

"Prophecy Theme" Composed and Performed by:
Brian Eno

Orchestral Sequences Performed by:
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra

The Vienna Volksoper Choir

Additional Music and Co-Conducted by:
Marty Paich

Co-Conducted by:
Allyn Ferguson

Produced by:
David Paich
Ford A. Thaxton
Labels Icon
P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG001)

P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG015)

P.E.G. Recordings (PEG015), SuperCollector
Availability Icon
The 1984 and 1997 albums were regular U.S. releases. The German and other European imports that were released in between those two regular releases have the same contents as the 1984 P.E.G. release. The 1997 album has fallen out of print because P.E.G. went out of business.

The 2001 release was available only through online soundtrack specialty retailers, but it is also now out of print.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the 1984 and 2001 albums if you seek a somewhat satisfyingly comprehensive experience of the music from Dune, which, like the film, remains a guilty pleasure for many science fiction fans.

Avoid it... if you can't tolerate orchestral/rock hybrid scores from an era otherwise dominated by massive John Williams-inspired space operas.
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WRITTEN 12/16/97, REVISED 9/6/08
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1984 Album

Dune: (Toto) While many film and music collectors hold the 1984 production of Frank Herbert's Dune close to their hearts, it remains one of the most noteworthy science-fiction disasters in the history of Hollywood. Despite the assembly of an all-star cast of past and future stars, enthralling special effects for the time, and a aggressively expansive score, director David Lynch was disgusted with the final product (who wouldn't be after turning down an opportunity to direct Return of the Jedi?) and painstakingly rearranged the film several times before finally turning his back on both Dune and the sequel he was already half finished with. The script was in shambles, the acting was consequently forced to be ridiculous, and news articles were comparing the giant sandworms to subliminal phallic references. Could it get any more bizarre? Indeed, it did. While the industry's concept of space opera soundtracks had been defined by John Williams during the era, there was an emerging (and largely unsuccessful) trend of using rock-styled scores in the sci-fi genre, and Lynch hired the popular rock band Toto, led by David Paich, to score Dune. Unfortunately, the production turned out to be a difficult one for the Toto members as well. It was the group's first scoring attempt, and as they tried to combine their native electronic sounds with those of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in Austria, they were quickly overwhelmed. A multitude of different themes and genres of music were thrown together to form a crazed mess of grandiose, electronically-hip, orchestral nonsense, complicated by a seemingly conflicted set of expectations from Lynch. Strangely, however, regardless of all of these circumstances, the resulting union of music and movie is a perfect match. The mess of a movie and mess of a score went remarkably well together, and it's hard not to have an affinity for both. They reside on the edges of majesty and camp, allowing a listener to the score to appreciate the grandiose attempts at the former while writing off the latter. The only problem with the scenario is that the album situation for Dune has had an equally messy history, diminishing the potential that many can appreciate Toto's contributions at all.

Anyone familiar with Herbert's series of stories involving the desert planet of Arrakis knows that there is an extremely convoluted array of characters, symbols, and general ideas, making the score for Dune an inevitably complicated one. A valiant attempt was made by Toto to address most of these concepts, but Lynch asked Toto to keep the score "slow and low" (and refused any audible presence of a harp... a strange hang-up on his part), causing a resulting score that spends much of its time churning below the surface of the film's soundscape. The epic scenes in the film still required bursts of magnificence, so these smooth light rock elements and minimalistic orchestral material were accompanied by occasional bursts of strong electronic rhythms or orchestral themes. The awkward combination of themes and genres of music, usually alternating from cue to cue, causes the overall work to be disjointed on album. The actual constructs of the themes, however, should be highly commended. The title theme for Dune is an extremely catchy series of four-note progressions that lends itself well to integration throughout the film. It was used extensively in the film's full-length trailers, and is featured prominently over the title sequence and two or three important scenes in the film. Lynch unfortunately edited the theme into places in the film that Toto had not intended, so it does come across as forced in parts. In the history of sci-fi movie themes, however, this idea from Dune ranks very highly. A theme for the concept of Paul Atreides' destiny is heard throughout the film, usually augmented by choir. It's an understandably religious theme that accompanies many of his visions (and realizations of them). Its most prominent performances come in "The Duke's Death," "Paul Meets Chani," and "Final Dream" (all scenes that carry out parts of the prophecy). The people of Arrakis, the Fremen, are given a descending figure that is alluded to at the start of "The Fremen" and explodes with rock-aided power in "Riding the Sandworm" and other later cues. This idea eventually mutates into a desert theme that accompanies the species' success in rebelling to take back their planet, highlighting "Reunion With Gurney," "Prelude," the suite-like "Dune (Desert Theme)," and "Take My Hand" (which is heard over the end credits of the film).

A separate and distinct "Prophecy Theme" by composer Brian Eno makes a dreary, boring, and minimal contribution to the film. A theme for Leto and the house of Atreides in general is a noble piece heard in "Leto's Theme" and is largely short-changed in the film (usually yielding to the title theme). It becomes a love theme for Leto and the Queen in "Departure," an elegant exploration of the idea. The evil Baron interestingly receives a demented organ and harpsichord version of the desert theme, representing his maniacal habits in "The Floating Fat Man." A theme for the concept of folding space (a universe theme of sorts) is introduced in "Prologue" and explored further in "The Trip to Arrakis." It also represents the sandworms that protect the spice, appearing in "Sandworm Attack" and more extensively in the underwhelming "Sandworm Chase." A battle motif accompanies hand to hand combat or larger scenes of destruction; the percussive idea is used in "Robot Fight," "First Attack" and "Paul Kills Feyd." Other minor motifs weave in and out of the score, and Toto tends to bleed them together during many cues (and particularly the ones of Paul's dreams and hallucinations in the film). Most of the themes are still effective, though at times they lack the power that they could have exerted with a fuller orchestral presence (minus electronics). The score does feature several pieces that are largely unlistenable, including the aforementioned track for the Baron's hideous scene of introduction, as well as the obnoxious simplicity of the percussive "Robot Fight" and the dissonant crescendo on strings at the end of "The Box" (a cue that foreshadows many of the later scenes). The "Big Battle" cue is somewhat of a disappointment in its use piano and sparse percussion to establish a rhythm that really could have used a strong electronic pulsing or bass string presence. The concluding major-key pronouncement of victory in "Big Battle" is a strong balance of choir, orchestra, and electric guitars; along with "Final Dream," these cues allow the score a prominent role in the last minutes of the film. Another singular highlight is the "Reunion With Gurney" cue, perfectly summarizing the hip aspect of the Fremen while transforming into a heartbreaking orchestral performance as Paul reunites with one of the few surviving members of his house (the singing Patrick Stewart!).

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.02 Stars
***** 7,799 5 Stars
**** 1,949 4 Stars
*** 1,636 3 Stars
** 879 2 Stars
* 1,342 1 Stars
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Prophecy Theme by Brian Eno
Captain Future - September 10, 2011, at 6:58 a.m.
1 comment  (1990 views)
2001 edition
Number 6 - July 19, 2009, at 12:52 p.m.
1 comment  (2648 views)
Correction on one of the themes.
Kevin Smith - July 29, 2008, at 10:15 a.m.
1 comment  (2428 views)
"take my hand" Sheet music?
xavier - May 16, 2007, at 12:32 p.m.
1 comment  (3909 views)
About score and advices
Sheridan - August 24, 2006, at 4:57 a.m.
1 comment  (2517 views)
Max - May 8, 2006, at 10:38 a.m.
1 comment  (2716 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1984 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 40:59
• 1. Prologue** (1:47)
• 2. Main Title* (1:15)
• 3. Robot Fight (1:18)
• 4. Leto's Theme (1:43)
• 5. The Box (2:37)
• 6. The Floating Fat Man (The Baron)** (1:24)
• 7. Trip to Arrakis (2:35)
• 8. First Attack (2:43)
• 9. Prophecy Theme* (4:19)
• 10. Dune (Desert Theme) (5:30)
• 11. Paul Meets Chani (3:04)
• 12. Prelude (Take My Hand) (0:59)
• 13. Paul Takes the Water of Life (2:48)
• 14. Big Battle (3:06)
• 15. Paul Kills Feyd (1:51)
• 16. Final Dream (1:25)
• 17. Take My Hand (2:35)
* not heard on 1997/2001 albums
** contains dialogue
1997/2001 Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 72:51

Notes Icon
The 1984 album's insert includes no extra information about the score or film. The 1997 and 2001 albums feature identical packaging, with a note from David Paich about the scoring process. The expanded albums are dedicated to writer Frank Herbert and the deceased members of the score's crew (Marty Paich and Jeff Porcaro). On those albums, the web address listed for art direction kudos in the insert is incorrect (although the site is now defunct anyway). Toto members included David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, Mike Porcaro, and Steve Lukather.
Copyright © 1997-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Dune are Copyright © 1984, 1997, 2001, P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG001), P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG015), P.E.G. Recordings (PEG015), SuperCollector and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/16/97 and last updated 9/6/08.
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