Dune (Extended Three Hour Edition) [DVD]
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David Lynch's Dune is the brilliant but fatally flawed would-be epic feature film version of Frank Herbert's novel of the same name, the bestselling science fiction novel ever written. It is a complex but too heavily simplified version of a far more elaborate book, a darkly Gothic far future space opera revolving around an imperial, dynastic power struggle on the desert planet of Arrakis. With what was in 1984 an enormous $40 million budget, Lynch retained a surprising amount of the industrial/Victorian feel of his previous features, Eraserhead (1976) and The Elephant Man (1980), and was able to bring to the screen some of the most imaginative and awe-inspiring production designs, costumes and action then seen. Indeed, as a spectacularly atmospheric vision of the future Dune has as much to recommend it as the far more celebrated Blade Runner (1982), with which it even shares the female romantic lead, Sean Young--here just one star in a superb cast. The problem, which an unauthorised extended TV version failed to fix, is that Lynch's original vision of Dune was massively cut for length, and as such the final third is so rapidly paced as to undermine the superb first two thirds. A director's cut is sorely needed, the cinema version playing like a butchered masterpiece. Also available is an entirely unconnected four-and-a-half-hour mini-series, Frank Herbert's Dune (2000), which is less visionary but more coherent.
On the DVD: The 2.35:1 image suffers from not being anamorphically enhanced. There are minor flecks of dirt and scratches, but generally the print used is in good condition although there is a considerable amount of grain in some scenes and the image could be more detailed. The packaging claims the sound is Dolby Digital 5.1, but it is actually three-channel sound (stereo plus centre speaker), with the main stereo feed being duplicated in the rear channels. A full 5.1 remastering would improve matters considerably. Special features consist of the original trailer and a pointless gallery of seven badly cropped stills. There is a very basic animated and scored menu using the portentous main theme music from the film. --Gary S Dalkin
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I haven't seen the subsequent mini series('s) that came after this, and will be reading the reviews of those shortly (I am a glutton for punishment), because I really want to see if someone has made anywhere near a semi decent hash of filming this amazing story.
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