my original review of the 1984 version of Dune I
remarked that this is a film that is actually in need of a longer running
time since to flesh out all the plot details and info contained in Frank
Herbert's Byzantine source novel.
Boy, was I wrong!
This new DVD version of
contains two versions of the movie on one double-sided disc: the original
theatrical version, which runs two hours, 17 minutes and an extended
version cut for TV that runs a full 40 minutes longer.
The shorter original version is by far the preferred one; the extended
version will just put you to sleep.
It all kicks off unpromisingly with a ten-minute long voice-over narration
providing the sort of dense, detail-heavy exposition that makes you feel as
if you should be taking notes. From there on it doesn't get much better as
the pace is slow and the film only picks up at about the hour mark. Two
hours to go, and you can understand why director David Lynch (Eraserhead)
shortened the whole affair so radically. One would like to see justice done
to Herbert's complex novel, but not at the expense of the audience.
Ironically the longer version is still too short in a sense. The original
movie spent its first 40 minutes on the first 40 pages of the novel and then
rushed through the other 460 or so pages in the remaining 97 minutes of
running time. This gave the second half of the movie an episodic and
undeveloped feel. The extended version exacerbates the situation by spending
even more time on those first 40 pages and the whole back story and
Herbert's universe, resulting in an even more lop-sided affair. No wonder
the literary purists at the Sci-Fi Channel thought that they can do better
job and made the novel into a mini-series a few years back.
DISCS: The crisp DVD transfer and wide-screen finally does justice to
the film's strongest assets: the wondrously original set designs, spaceship
designs and costumes which manages to successfully avoid any old
Star Wars clichés of the time.
Some making of featurettes focusing on the costume designs, special
effects and production design. Unfortunately there is no sign of any of the
movie's stars and director to be found on the disc: it may have been an
unhappy experience for the director, but an audio commentary by Lynch would
have been fascinating.
WORTH IT? Dune remains a deeply flawed flick. Some of the
film's narrative devices used are too hokey, and at times the movie is
simply too ponderous, overlong, weird and silly for its own good. On the
flipside: serious hard sci-fi fans should check it out since it is a serious
attempt at adapting Herbert's popular novel. Also, while the effects have
dated some of the model work actually looks much more real than a lot of
today's CGI creations.
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of the film should throw away their old pan 'n'
scan VHS copies today and buy this DVD instead.
NOTE: There has long been rumors of a four-hour long version of the
film preferred by director David Lynch that is being kept under wraps in a
vault somewhere. The film's producer Raffaella De Laurentiis (daughter of
Dino De Laurentiis) however reveals that no such version exists on the DVD.
I suppose one should be thankful . . .