Where Was Dune Filmed in 1984

Hollywood is famous for turning books into movies and Dune is no exception. The original Dunes movie was released in 1984. There was also a remake of Dune in 2021. This article is focused on the first Dune. So where was Dune filmed? Most of the movie was filmed in one country with some scenes filmed in a studio.

Dune – The Story

The 1984 movie adaptation of Herbert’s novel tells the story of a young nobleman as he assumes control of the planet Arrakis and its resources. Arrakis is the only source of an incredibly valuable substance called “spice” and control of the planet is sought by many factions. Paul must rely on his innate powers, with the help of a mysterious force called the “weirding way,” to protect Arrakis from these adversaries. Ultimately, he must confront a dangerous enemy known as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

The Dune Cast

The movie starred Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, along with an all-star cast that included Max von Sydow, Sean Young, Virginia Madsen, and Kenneth McMillan.

The Cast of Dune 1984

The Director

The movie was directed by David Lynch and released in 1984. There was also a remake of the movie in 2021 that was directed by Denis Villeneuve.

The Location

The 1984 movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune was a complex production, with filming locations in several countries. The bulk of the film was shot in Mexico, at Churubusco Studios, and on location near Guadalajara. Additional scenes were filmed at the legendary Hollywood studios, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) Studios, and a few other locations around Los Angeles.

Where Was Dune Filmed in 1984 - Giant Ship

In Mexico, massive sets were built to recreate various planets from the novel, including Arrakis, Caladan, and Giedi Prime. A number of sand dunes in the area served as stand-ins for the planet Arrakis. The crew used an actual quarry for filming some of the exteriors.

The crew also traveled to the nearby town of Tequila, Mexico to film some outdoor scenes. This included an iconic shot of a giant sandworm emerging from the ground. The impressive sandworm itself was built based on designs by special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi and could move up to 30 feet (9 meters) per minute.

In Los Angeles, scenes were filmed at the Paramount and MGM studios. The latter was the site of a memorable fight scene between two giant worms. Rambaldi built an immense platform that could be rotated to create the illusion of the creatures’ movement.

Where Was Dune Filmed in 1984 - Sick Bay

Additional outdoor scenes were shot at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. This included shots of the Atreides’ palace, which was a facade built on top of a natural rock formation.

Fun Facts About Dune

The film was released on the same day as another science fiction epic, The Last Starfighter, which tells a completely different story but with similar special effects.

The cow that Rabban eats is actually a real frozen dead cow.

Helen Bonham Carter was originally cast as Princess Irulan but couldn’t commit due to scheduling conflicts.

Did Dune Receive Any Awards?

The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects.

What is Guadalajara Famous For?

Guadalajara is rich in Mexican culture and hosts numerous events including the Guadalajara International Film Festival. It’s also known for its unique ceramics, arts, and crafts. It’s the birthplace of Mexico’s most famous architect, Luis Ramiro Barrigan Morfin. 

Things to Do in Guadalajara

Guadalajara sits smack in the middle of Mexico. It’s approximately 350 miles northwest of Mexico City and 200 miles inland from Puerto Vallarta. You can fly directly to the Guadalajara Airport.

There are many festivals held throughout the year including:

  • Tequila Festival (March)
  • Guadalajara International Film Festival (March)
  • May Cultural Festival (May)
  • Jalisco Jazz Festival (July)
  • International Mariachi Festival (August/September)
  • Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead (October/November)

The Teatro Degollado was built in the 1800s and is one of the most historic theaters in Guadalajara. It’s definitely worth a visit.

May is considered the hottest month in Guadalajara with average temperatures of 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time of year to visit is between October and December. The weather is drier and there are more things to do.

Unique Places in Mexico

If Guadalajara isn’t what you are looking for, there are plenty of other unique places to check out.  Baja, California, Mexico is just over the U.S. California border. Don’t be fooled by the name, though. Baja California is in Mexico and you will need a passport to enter. 

Other unique places include the Xilitla Surrealist Gardens, the Surrealist Garden of Edward James, or the Tulum Cenotes. Cenotes are underwater sinkholes that contain clear, fresh water and there are only a very few on earth. The largest concentration of cenotes is found in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Taxco, Mexico is another popular place to visit. It’s a famous silver town that has many jewelry makers and artists. 

And let’s not forget Mexico City. It’s the fifth largest city on the planet. Fly directly into Mexico City to start your vacation. Check out the museums, pyramids, Chapultepec Park and Castle, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What universe is Dune set?

Dune is set in the fictitious Arrakis universe.

How many years does Dune span?

Dune spans approximately 15,000 years. 

David Lynch’s Dune has become a cult classic due to its intricate production design and iconic visuals.

Mexico is quite inexpensive and a very popular place to visit. And if you live in Southern California, it’s very easy to visit by simply driving over the border. 

Have you visited Mexico? What was your experience like? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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Alanna Birmingham

Alanna Birmingham is a professional freelance writer and a Film Aficionado who adores watching, writing and being involved in all elements of filmmaking. Her writing repertoire includes films, filmmaking, travel, and electronic gadgets. When she’s not writing she’s hanging out at the beach or taking walks in the woods. She has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and is currently on the lookout for her next canine pal.

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