Some fans like the original. Some prefer the extended version shown on TV. In either case, you can now get both on a single, double-sided DVD with Dune: Extended Edition. Read More for details of this release.
Back in 1984, Rafaella DeLaurentis produced and David Lynch wrote and directed a grand, expensive vision of Frank Herbert’s Dune. However, the novel is highly complex with a HUGE backstory, that fitting the novel into a feature-length movie was incredibly difficult, and the movie suffered for it.
Rafaella had a fix – edit in some additional footage, replace the short introduction with a longer one describing more of the backstory, and perhaps it would help. This version was disowned by David Lynch as he did not agree with what was done – he had his credits removed and replaced by “Alan Smithee” as director and “Judas Booth” as writer, and this version, at almost 3 hours long, was released to TV stations. It added some scenes that helped it make a little more sense.
Rumors have long persisted that an even larger version of Dune exists, clocking in at 4 hours – and I’ve even seen 6 hours. However, no such version has ever existed and couldn’t. Only about 5 hours of raw footage were filmed.
This DVD release consists of a double-sided disc. On Side A is the original Theatrical release (2 hours and 17 minutes), along with all the bonus features. Side B contains the “Extended” release (2 hours and 57 minutes), which, despite being released on TV in 4:3 ratio, is still widescreen in this release.
Bonus features include:
- “Designing Dune”: Production designers talk about designing to environment of dune, with illustrations.
- “Special Effects”: Pyrotechnics and mechanics
- “Models and Miniatures”: making the big from the small
- “Wardrobe Design”: Used body bags?!? Ewwwwww!
- “Photograph Gallery”: Lots of photos of David Lynch in action
Also are deleted scenes that are NOT part of the Extended version of the film, with a introduction by Rafaella DeLaurentis. Scenes include:
- Irulan’s prologue includes information on the juice of Sapho that the Mentats use, along with some additional dialog
- Dialog by Reverend Mother Romallo, referring to CHOAM, the Bene Gesserit, and the Spacing Guild
- Extended scene between Jessica and Mapes
- Extended/alternate scene between Paul and Jessica in the desert about who Paul is
- Alternate death scene of Jamis, where Paul “gives water to the dead”
- Additional scene with Jessica and Alia, referring to the Guild
- A scene after the Fremen victory between Paul and Thufir Hawat (don’t want to spoil it)
- A final scene regarding Chani and Irulan
On to the formal review:
Plot/Story: This is really going to vary by person, depending how much you you’ve read of the novels. I’ve seen widely varying reviews. From my personal standpoint, I liked it when it originally came out, but it was very confusing. Reading the book helped a lot – but then you learn that they added stuff in the movie that did not exist in the book, like the wierding modules. In the book, the Atreides had the “Wierding Way”, which was just a fighting style taught to the Fremen. The modules were interesting at least, and added a bit of emphasis at the end. The story was very hard to adapt as well due to the amount of internal monologue of the characters (more on that in a moment). The Extended version helps with understanding the backstory and the main characters (and there is a lot) – it may be worth watching the intro and maybe the beginning of the Extended edition, then watch the Theatrical version. 2/5, mainly because of the implementation.
Characters/Acting: Just looking at the cast list, you’d expect more from this film. Well, OK, Sting wasn’t really an actor. But with so many characters trying to be squeezed in, some people get little more than cameo roles in the end. People like Patrick Stewart (Gurney Halleck – he would gain more fame later), Linda Hunt (Shadout Mapes, an Oscar winner, no less), Robert Jordan (Duncan Idaho, who has about 120 seconds of screen time), Virginia Madsen (Princess Irulan, who does the introduction and narration in the theatrical version, but has very few words otherwise – in fact, I can think of only 1 word), and Max von Sydow (Dr. Kynes) get very little time. Those that do get time have to contend with the “internal monologue” problem – that have to sit on screen while the monologue goes on, trying to hold an appropriate expression.
Speaking of Patrick Stewart, sometimes his dialog is over the top. In fact, in the extended meeting scene he is at his peak, seeming more like a Shakespearean actor (which he is) in search of a stage. And when he departs, the grin on Prochnow and the laugh of MacLachlan seem almost genuine. In the end, lets say 2 out of 5.
Effects/Visuals/Audio: Special effects were OK for the time, but are appear pretty weak by todays standards. In some cases, look like drawings, like the Guild Heighliners. The sets were extensively decorated affairs, giving a decadent, palatial lifestyle for the feudal lords that rule the planets. Audio-wise, sometimes the dialog sounds like they were speaking in a big, reflective box. Post-processing or looping seems to have been avoided. 2/5
DVD Packaging/Extras: I like the case. Instead of the typical cardboard slipcase and plastic folder, this case is actually aluminum covered plastic case. The Aluminum bears the imagery and raised lettering, and still is the same size as your typical DVD cases.
Menus are simplistic. There is a bit of animation on loading, but the menus are static, with the usual options.
The deleted scenes were interesting, and appears at some levels to follow the book more closely. The featurettes are short but interesting. It should be noted that none of the cast or David Lynch took part in new material. 3/5
Overall: I still like it. However, I highly recommend reading the book before or after seeing the movie to understand more of it – and that shouldn’t be required of any movie. 2/5
And the final score is…2.2 out of 5. Feel free to comment about what you like/dislike about this version.