- Actors: William Hurt, Alec Newman, Giancarlo Giannini, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Saskia Reeves
- Format: Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Number of discs: 2
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Artisan
- Release Date: March 20 2001
- Run Time: 265 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 474 customer reviews
- ASIN: B000059H6K
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,183 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Frank Hubert's Dune
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It's a mixed blessing, but Frank Herbert's Dune goes a long way toward satisfying science fiction purists who scoffed at David Lynch's previous attempt to adapt Herbert's epic narrative. Ironically, director John Harrison's 288-minute TV miniseries (broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2000) offers its own share of strengths and weaknesses, which, in retrospect, emphasize the quality of Lynch's film while treating Herbert's novel with more comprehensive authority. Debate will continue as to which film is better; Lynch's extensive use of internal monologue now seems like a challenge well met, and Harrison's more conventional approach is better equipped to convey the epic scope of Herbert's interplanetary political intrigue.
This much is certain: this Dune is a sumptuous treat for the eyes, with sets and costumes that were conceived with no apparent limits of budget or creativity. In terms of architecture alone, this is one of the most impressive films in science fiction history. And although the special effects fall short of feature-film quality, writer-director Harrison (who rose from an extensive background in TV) admirably tames the sprawling narrative that pits the opposing houses of Atreides and Harkonnen in a struggle to control the lucrative market for the spice melange. This is as accurate as any Dune adaptation is likely to get (i.e., there's no need for another attempt), and even then, it can be tricky to keep track of who's doing what to whom. Unfortunately, the film's biggest flaws are the casting of a nearly comatose William Hurt as Duke Leto, and a wooden Alec Newman as the messiah-to-be, Paul Atreides. These are regrettable shortcomings, but this Dune remains altogether respectable. That Frank Herbert would be impressed is perhaps the biggest compliment one can pay. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Owing to the differing broadcast standards of global television, the director's cut of Frank Herbert's Dune essentially combines the international versions originally broadcast in 2000. Several scenes are new to American audiences, including some brief and tasteful nudity, but the real benefit comes from scenes that clarify the politics and betrayals that arise between the houses of Atreides and Harkonnen. In his articulate and informative commentary track, writer-director John Harrison illuminates the value of these scenes, while additional DVD supplements explore the challenges of production and, most eloquently, the artistic philosophy of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, whose color strategies are outlined in interviews and an intellectual essay. And while the "Defining the Messiah" and "Science Future/Science Fiction" supplements are not directly related to the film, they place this epic production (and Frank Herbert's legacy) into a rich and meaningful perspective. Even if viewed only once, these and other features provide valuable context for a deeper appreciation of Harrison's ambitious adaptation. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Shot entirely on soundstages in Prague, Dune has a number of stunning performances. Alec Newman faced much criticism for his portrayal of Paul Atreides but his performance grows in confidence as his character moves from the shadow of his father Duke Leto to the savivor of an entire planet. Herbert managed to meld ecology, his fascination with the messiah myth and the court politics of 17th Century Europe into a cohesive, powerful tale set in the year 10,000.
William Hurt, again, much criticized for his tepid portrayal of Duke Leto captures the right amount of anguish and sense of duty & responsibility that faces him in taking over Arrakis the planet where Spice is found. Spice allows humans to live longer, see bits of the future and travel the universe by "folding" space.
All of the performances are very strong although James Watson as Duncan Idaho isn't given much screen time to demonstrate his abilities. The actor who took over the role in the sequel Children of Dune (based on Dune Messiah & Children of Dune)had more to work with. The role wasn't fleshed out a bit more but, given the confines of the screen time and the characters part in the novel, that's not a surprise.
The optical effects are frequently very good to stunning. Although CGI has come a long way since Babylon 5, there are some limitations. Still, the opticals involving the sandworms are stunning and put the visuals in Lynch's film to shame. It's a pity that Harrison didn't have a larger budget to work with but he does wonders with the budget here. The cinematography is stunning using color and lighting in imaginative new ways compared to most films and television programs.
This special edition has more than a couple of nude scenes; there's 30 minutes of additional footage for international broadcast that helps to broaded the characters, story and explain the politics and forces Paul into a forced evolution from Duke to messiah. The direction, writing and performances are very strong. While Harrison's version of Dune could have benefited from the internal monologues in Lynch's film, his actors are quite subtle in conveying the emotional state of the characters. In many respects, the cinematography and use of color is another actor in the film commenting on the actions and situations in the film.
Some of the extras here are the same as on the previous edition but there is an interesting roundtable disscussion included on technology and its effects on humanity (hosted by science fiction writer Arthur Byron Cover and featuring Harrison, Harlan Ellison and Octavia Butler among others). The interview with Harrison and his audio commentary (along with the visual effects folks and producer)enhances the DVD. There are many fascinating tidbits included throughout the commentary track.
Harrison's adaption of Children of Dune benefits from better CGI effects, a bigger budget and a much more complex plot (over the course of the two books). The direction of that film is also quite good although, again, I feel it misses Harrison's affinity for the material.
The story takes place on Arakis, the desert planet also known as Dune. One of the lifeforms on the planet is the enormous "worm." Full grown worms are the size of an airport terminal, and will easily devour anything smaller than a Boeing 747. Worms live in the desert and produce "spice." Spice is a halucinogen which is necessary for the spiritual powers of the prieshood, intersteller transportation, and political control. It is the most valuable commodity in the galaxy and is only produced on Arakis.
The Emperor sees the House Atreides as a threat to his control of the empire because of Duke Leto Atreides popularity amoungst the other royal houses. Rather than get his hands dirty, the Emperor replaces House Harkonnen's control of the planet Dune with House Atreides, and plots to have the Harkonnens kill the Duke Leto Atreides, his only son and concubine, and reassume control of Dune. The plan almost succeeds, but the the Duke's son, Paul, and concubine, Lady Jessica, escape to the deep desert. Under the influence of Spice, Paul (who is now the new duke) becomes a messsiah to the desert denisens of the planet, and leads them in rebellion, retaking control of Arakis, and seizing control of the entire empire.
My recollection of the cinematic version was that it was too compressed to get the story line of the book, almost as bad as my summary above, and was too comic-bookish for the subject matter. Dune certainly has parallels to both Lawrence of Arabia and to the real world politics of oil/religion in the middle east. It deserves better treatment than it got in the big screen version. The TV miniseries fixes these problems simply by having the time to present the story, and treating the material with a more matter of fact rendition.
But where the cinematic version had the big screen, the miniseries fails because the material is too big for the small screen. The sets and costumes are magnificent. The production values are as good as I have seen on TV. But the scope and grandeur of Dune is lost on a 27" TV screen.
The other problems are that the acting is dry and unemotional, and some of the special effects have been skimped on. You never get to like the protagonists. Given these limitations, it is, in my opinion, the better version in that you can follow the story and see what Frank Herbert imagined.
I highly recommend the DVD over the VHS because the quality of the video is significantly better.
In the film there was too much territory covered in too short a period. The characters were too rapidly introduced. The new version gives us a glimpse of what inspired the Star Wars myths. I know this novel was written at time when science fiction was seen as low brow literature. Herbert has proven them wrong. I'd like to see all the books adapted for telivison. If a little drama and additional writing is needed; so be it. Long live Dune.
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