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'... more »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« less
In several top 100 Scifi book listings, you'll find Dune in the top ten, if not number one. Like Tolkien's work, a rich mythology is contained, and shifted frames of reference to familiarize oneself with. Aired in year 2000 on the Syfy Channel, this miniseries is the most faithful (so far) to the actual novel, although I think Lynch's 1984 film version more correctly assimilated the tone. This Director's Cut has an extra half hour and a bit of frontal nudity. So ensure all kiddios in the room are blindfolded whilst viewing.
Frank Herbert left us with 6 main Dune novels upon passing. Years later, his son Brian discovered a 5 inch floppy disc in a lock box which contained a detailed outline of where Frank had intended to take the franchise. And so, Brian, a Scifi writer himself has done just so, with the assistance of Kevin J. Anderson. Which has added an additional 17 titles and several short stories to the mix. Brian's writing style is quite linear and different than his father's, who often told his tales with an apprentice/pedagogue dialogue.
I've read all of these selections and am surprised that Hollywood has not latched onto this universe and produced an ongoing television series, which could well rival many of the popular Scifi franchises out there. A two-part film (of the original novel) is currently being made by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.) Which will give us a third version of this tale.
Where the heck did Duncan Idaho die anyway?
frez1975 | San Antonio, TX United States | 02/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After seeing this miniseries and the original David Lynch theatrical release, I felt compelled to read the book and settle some plot inconsistencies (i.e. where did the weirding weapons go and where the heck was Duncan Idaho really supposed to die? In the Atreides compound during the initial Harkonnen attack or blown to bits by Harkonnen patrols in the desert spiriting Paul and his mother to safety?). The Sci-Fi series got it right.I did not find Allec Newman annoying as some people did. Sure, he was wooden, but Paul was schooled in the controlling of his own emotions by his mother so that they did not betray him. After the Harkonnen attack his ruthless, unemotional behavior became more pronounced as he was immersed in the grim Fremen culture.In terms of following the original story, the Sci-Fi Channel series is superior to Lynch's version. Sure, nobody seems to be able to get the fact that Paul Atreides is supposed to be 14-15 when the story starts and that he is described as being much darker complected than either actor who has played him in the past, but things actually happened in the sequence they were supposed to in the miniseries. People die where they are supposed to and events take place in the proper sequence.Another nice element of the miniseries was the use of knives. Everybody has knives in the miniseries, just like in the book, where knives play an important part of Fremen culture. In the miniseries, characters are more likely to duke it out up close with knives than shoot blasts from weirding modules (which aren't even in the book).Karel Dobry's Dr. Kynes and P.H. Moriarty's Gurney Halleck (characters who, despite their importance to Herbert's original story, were glossed over in Lynch's version of "Dune") are both given the attention they deserve in the miniseries. I thought both actors did well, as did the actor who played Stilgar (Uwe Ochsenknecht). I liked both Ochsenknecht and Dobry's quiet, understated menace. Despite their lack of emotion and stoic demeanor, you could instantly recognize them as the most dangerous men in the room. In the miniseries Gurney Halleck looks and feels like the battle-hardened ex-slave who would die for his Duke. If anything, Patrick Stewart's portrayal in the movie (when his character was on screen) was too "clean" to be Gurney Halleck.Hey, Raban even had some dialogue in the miniseries (like he did in the book) instead of wandering around and giggling perversely while eating some indescribable meat product like he did in Lynch's movie. Feyd even gets to do things in the miniseries besides offering Sting's characteristic leer of the Lynch interpretation. Sure, his clothes stunk in the miniseries, but he was shown as being much more dangerous (both physically and mentally) in the miniseries than Sting was in the movie version. Stepping out of a steam-bath and cocking on eyebrow on cue don't concern me as much as the man who looks harmless and has terrible fashion sense, but is a cold-blooded killer. Ian McNiece surprised me as Baron Harknonnen, since I'm used to him in more effeminate, comedic roles. I thought he did a fine job as the Baron, mixing the vicious with the pathetic (now if only I hadn't seen quite so much of him wearing nothing but his suspensor harness...).The miniseries does have its weaknesses. Once again, the actor who played Yueh fell short. I never once saw the tattoo Yueh had on his forehead that signified his imperial conditioning. How many times is this blasted tattoo mentioned in the book? William Hurt has as much intensity as a corpse. I do think that Lynch's movie made the Bene Gesserit more menacing with their bald heads and black gowns. The Bene Gesserit attire of the miniseries was laughable. In fact, hats were pretty terrible throughout the series. I also like Lynch's interpretation of guild navigators and Harkonnen "garbage bags with green eyeholes" shock troops. However, other visual elements, like the stillsuits (the primary wardrobe of the second half of the story) and vehicles, are more accurate in the Sci-Fi miniseries.Is it perfect? No. Was it enough to cause me to buy a copy of the book to find out if they did a better/worse job? Yes. Is it more faithful to the original story? Yes."
Another Interpretation of Frank Herbert's Masterpiece
M. Hart | USA | 03/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"David Lynch's 2-hour feature film (later extended to 3 hours) and John Harrison's 6-hour TV miniseries each have very different interpretations of Frank Herbert's masterful sci-fi novel "Dune". Separately, neither effort adequately captures Herbert's vision of humanity and struggles for power in the far distant future; but each work brings varying degrees of depth to the screen, giving the viewer a glimpse of what Herbert envisioned.Strengths of Harrison's TV miniseries interpretation:* Better character development: especially Duke Leto Atreides (William Hurt), Princess Irulan Corrino (Julie Cox), Padishah-Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Giancarlo Giannini) and Stilgar (Uwe Ochsenknecht).
* A more comprehensive telling of the story: including the Corrino family, the ordinary lives of the Fremen, the ties between the Harkonnen and Atreides families, and the influence of the Bene Gesserit. Strangely, Paul is never called Usul.
* Better special effects and panoramic views, except for the often-used surrealistic lighting.
* Little use of stock footage scenes, which was often used by Lynch.Strengths of Lynch's feature film interpretation:
* Better costumes overall, especially the all of the uniforms and Fremen stillsuits, which, unlike the TV miniseries, looked as if they would actually work.
* Better portrayal of the Mentat.
* Hearing the thoughts of the characters added an extra element.
* Better acting overall: especially Lady Jessica (Francesca Annis), Baron Harkonnen's doctor (Leonardo Cimino), Shadout Mapes (Linda Hunt), Paul 'Muad'Dib' Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), Baron Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan), Duke Leto (Jürgen Prochnow) and Gurney Halleck (Patrick Stewart).Someone who hasn't read Herbert's novel and only sees Lynch's feature film may not understand the story, but someone who hasn't read the novel but only sees Harrison's TV miniseries will probably understand the story without difficulty. Anyone who has read the novel and sees either live-action interpretation will probably be disappointed to some degree by both, but each one can be appreciated for what each brings to the screen. The acting from Alec Newman as Paul 'Muad'Dib' Atreides was by no means perfect in the TV miniseries, but did shed a different light on the character from Kyle MacLachlan.Overall, I give Harrison's TV miniseries version of "Dune" a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. It is interesting to speculate how David Lynch would have added more to his film if he had been able to create a more comprehensive piece like the TV miniseries, as well as use CGI special effects and the best actors from both. Clearly, each screen interpretation shows what each director was able to accomplish with his available resources and artistic license."
Pretty good interpretation of a cult sci-fi blockbuster
Joanna Daneman | Middletown, DE USA | 04/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw both the David Lynch film version for theater release and then the "director's cut." While the director's cut was an improvement, the original Dune film left a lot to be desired. Now we have John Harrison's 288-minute TV miniseries with more time, a more leisurely pace with which to deal with Frank Herbert's magnificent novel Dune. Did Harrison succeed? Well, not quite. Let's start with the cast. William Hurt fails utterly as the charismatic Leto, who was supposed to be such an inspiring leader as to make his fighting men as good or better than the Emperor's crack troops, the Sardaukar. He is mild and lovable, but about as inspiring as milk and water. Boo. We get a slightly wimpy Jessica who is able to rise to the occasion once in a while, and a young pup of a Paul who never really hardens into the holy terror Muad'Dib. The emperor's daughter, Princess Irulan, is turned into a viable character here, with excellent acting and credible changes to the novel to make her a vital player. Irulan is well acted, so are Chani, Alia, Liet, Rabban and other minor characters. Alas, the leads like Leto, the Baron, Feyd-Rautha, Paul and Jessica are not quite up to snuff. What about the costumes, script, dialog, battles? The costumes are based on the Art Nouveau magnificence of Mucha and work well to convey the imperial feudal aspect. The worms are fabulous. Perfect in every way. The worm-riding scenes are as right as can be. The dialog is a mish-mash of lines from the book and good condensation. There are absolutely perfect moments, generally near the end of the series, and others that make no sense unless you are steeped in Dune the novel and even then leave you flat. The best scene was probably the transformation of Jessica to Reverend Mother. That was done so well. Unfortunately, the rest doesn't come up to that level. So close...sigh.The battle scenes were long and in some cases, downright stupid. At the end, the Fremen wield just their crysknives against the rapid fire weapons of the Sardaukar. Come on! Who brings knives to a gun fight! Should you see it? Sure! If you love sci-fi, it's worth a look. Is it all one would hope for? No, the acting is spotty. But it is the most faithful version yet of this unwieldy blockbuster of a science fiction masterpiece."
Held closely to the storyline
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 03/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The toughest thing about reviewing this miniseries will be the fact
that Harrison stuck so close to the book (in composition) but failed
in casting appropriate personnel for costume and set design. Now some
of the sets were okay. The inside of the palace at Arakeen was
beautiful, but didn't improve on the Lynch's movie set in my book.
Contrary to some beliefs, I think that William Hurt did a good job.
He is a HUGE Dune fan himself and has read the books time and again,
so I feel that he understood how to react as the Regal Duke who
sacrifices himself for the good of his family and his royal house. He
is somewhat depressed by this (as he shows us) but is also forced
forward by things beyond his control. The costumes: Well they
tried. The head-dresses were a little over the top for my taste
(especially for Helen Gauis Mohiam) who looked like a giant butterfly
had landed on her head. The Lynch version showed the Aba robes of the
Bene Geserit sisterhood in a dark-light, indicating backroom deals but
incredible elegance (note in the Lynch version how the robe of the
Emperor's truthsayer flows magically as she is asked to leave the
thrown room in the beginning when the Guild Navigator arrives). I
didn't mind the stillsuits in either version and thought that both did
a good job on different aspects (the Lynch version looking like a
'pumping-type' suit in Herbert's vision versus the face flap in the
Harrison version that was lacking in the Lynch movie). For purity,
I think that this Harrison miniseries blows the Lynch version out of
the water, however. Harrison seemed almost anal in his 'sticking true
to the book' version. There were no 'weirding modules' like in the
Lynch version (where the heck did he come up with that anyway?).
Harrison showed us the vision of Frank Herbert, but if you hadn't read
the book I feel that much might have been lost (for instance when
Dr. Kynes asks Paul about who helped him on with his stillsuit for the
first time and Dr. Kynes just stares at Paul for a while...there's a
lot going on there that's not being said). The Guild Heighliners
in both versions held up well in my opinion. Both seemed futuristic
and real. The Guild Navigator in Lynch's version looked more
worm-like however, versus Harrison's version that looked more like a
giant bat. But the bluer eyes of the Harrison navigator held truer to
Herbert's vision. The worms in the Harrison version were better,
hands down. When I first saw the worm taking down the spice harvester
in Harrison's version I was highly impressed. And the 'thopters' in
the Harrison version seemed to hold truer to Herbert's version as
well, versus the flying machines in Lynch's version.And the ending
of Harrison's version held to the book precisely versus the Lynch
version ... Good and bad from both versions I guess is what I'm
trying to say. Neither got it perfectly, but if you are a Dune
'purist' I think you'll like the Harrison miniseries better. If
you're a movie buff, the Lynch version will probably standout for you
Cultural Landscape of Dune is Lost in Harrison's Epic
Joanna Daneman | 03/24/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"? It's too bad, you can't take a scissors and cut and paste parts of John Harrison's 4 hour miniseries of Dune, onto the earlier David Lynch version. Harrison's version was able to take the time to put the story together, but Lynch's troubling and often brilliant visual images were truer to the cultural landscape of Dune. Don't get me wrong, the Harrison epic did some things quite well.... The characters of Princess Irulan, Duncan Idaho, Gurney, and Paul are better drawn than in Lynch's version. Alia is less grotesque and bizzarre. And, it is nice to get glimpses of the freemen's life. But while Harrison's series is richly presented, when it really comes down to it, Lynch's muddled masterpiece is far more faithful to Herbert's vision. For example, the Harkonnen "heart plug" is a metaphor for the dehumanizing way the Harkonnens use their people: you are there to satisfy their whims, and when it suits them, they pull the plug on you....literally. The scene on Lynch's Geidi Prime shows a gritty industrial facility, as the twisted mentat, DeVries, commutes in. Pieter is nervously taking a quick slug of his sapho juice brain booster, before presenting the baron with the message tube we earlier saw Leto seal with his ducal signet ring back on Caladan, during a foreboding storm. The volatile baron is in the middle of getting his repulsive pustules treated by a fawning doctor, while surgically mutilated workers stand mutely by. In Harrison's version, the gladitorial games and red gowns provide a sense of decadent wealth and cruelty, but without the heart plugs, the images don't convey the particular hi-tech loathsomeness of Herbert's Harkonnens, as so memorably drawn in the Lynch movie. Saskia Reeves (Harrison series), is attractive, but not nearly as stunning a Jessica, as Franchesca Annis. Harrison's Reverend Mother Helen Gaius Mohaium, comes off as a semi-demented fairy. The Bene Gesserit of the Harrison epic are lush and prissy, but this sisterhood has been meddling in human affairs for centuries, and the somber, nun-like, semi-bald, sharp eyed elder women mystics in the movie seem more true to Herbert's novel. William Hurt as Leto, is too laid back. Jurgan Prochow had the same thoughfulness, and was far more regal. In the Lynch version, we can feel the coming tragedy, as Leto and Jessica leave Caladan looking much like the Tsar Nicolas and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, going off to be shot by the Reds (the little pet pug dog pet was a nice touch). And in the Lynch film, you see Yueh's mark of imperial conditioning, and the tragedy of his pitiable position as pawn of the Harkonnens, forced to betray the duke he serves. Harrison's mentats look like overdressed archbishops, rather than human computers, and there is no trace of the trademark "red stained lips." The royal planetologist Keynes, played by Max Von Sydow in the Lynch movie, is far more like the scholarly recluse who has gone native as portrayed in Herbert's novel. The still suits of the Lynch movie have an authentic crafted look, while those of the Harrison Dune look like hi-tech camouflage leotards. In the Lynch film, the baroque look of the huge galactic transports and throne room on Kaitain, had a decadent and futuristic feel that suggests an advanced society that once fought a war over "thinking machines," and now is uneasy with its technology. And in the Lynch film, the visual of the zombie like guild members who must use a translating speaker to communicate because they are in one of the lesser stages of drug induced mutation, was also truer to Herbert's navigator's guild. It's too bad Lynch was not able to expand his movie. It's images are far more definitive than those of the Harrison offering. Both DVDs are worthwhile, but the Lynch DVD is Truer to Herbert's vision."