Dune: Special TV Edition
is an extended US network television version prepared in 1988 from David Lynch's 1984 film of Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel, Dune
. The original cinema release of this complex tale of interplanetary intrigue was heavily shortened and this 176-minute TV edition should not to be confused with Lynch's still unreleased three-hour-plus "Director's Cut". In fact Lynch disowned this TV version, replacing his director's credit with the infamous pseudonym Alan Smithee and his screenplay credit with the name Judas Booth (a combination of two notorious traitors). What the network did was add 35 minutes, about 15 minutes in the first two thirds, which in the cinema cut is in any case superbly paced, and around 20 into the final 40. This latter material does help balance the frenetic rush of the cinema cut, restoring important scenes such as Paul Atreides' fight with Jamis, a Fremen funeral and Jessica Atreides' taking the "Water of Life". What primarily alienated Lynch was the imposition of a folksy, sometimes laughable narration, as well as the replacement of the original prologue with a far longer sequence explaining the Dune
universe via pre-production paintings. This TV edit is a travesty of what, in the "Director's Cut" at least, is probably a great film, and is really only worth seeing to get a glimpse of the material Lynch was forced to remove. The unconnected mini-series, Frank Herbert's Dune
(2000) does a far better job of telling a more complete version of the story.
On the DVD: There is a fold-out colour booklet which contains a wealth of stills, a reproduction of the original cinema poster and a worthwhile essay on the original film that avoids any discussion of the TV version it accompanies. On the disc there is only the original theatrical trailer. The superb cinematography is ruined by the panned and scanned 4:3 image, which is grainy and has poor colour fidelity. It is also soft, lacking detail and washed-out, probably a result of being converted from American NTSC TV format video rather than coming directly from an original film print. Certainly the DVD of the cinema version looks far better. The audio is thin mono, completely failing to do justice to how fantastic a post-Star Wars 40-million-dollar science fiction epic should sound. --Gary S Dalkin
This re-edited television version of David Lynch's sci-fi epic - which includes a new prologue and 35 minutes of extra footage - so displeased the director that he had his name replaced by the industry pesudonym of Alan Smithee. Ten thousand years in the future, the planet Dune is home to the sandworms, mile-long creatures which guard the priceless spice Melange. Enabling travel through time and space, Melange is regarded as a rare prize, and it is for this reason that galactic warrior Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) leads his people into battle against the evil Harkonnens in order to gain control of the planet.