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Dune: Director's Cut - Special Edition

Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Science Fiction
Video: 1.78:1 widescreen
Audio: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0
Language: English
Subtitle: English
Length: 295 min
Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: 06/11/2002
Studio: Artisan Entertainment
Commentary: Feature commentary with director John Harrison, visual effects supervisor Ernest Farino, editor Harry Miller, visual effects supervisor Tim McHugh, Greg Nicotero
Documentaries: See below
Featurettes: The Lure of Spice, Willis McNelly on Frank Herbert's Dune, Frank Herbert's Dune - A Cinematographic Treatment
Filmography/Biography: Yes
Interviews: Graeme Revell Reveals, The Color Wheel, Defining the Messiah, Walking and Talking with John Harrison
Trailers/TV Spots: Trailer Gallery
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: No
Music Video: No
Other: Science Fiction / Science Future, Photo and Sketch Gallery, Character and Costume Sketches, Storyboards, Children of Dune Sneak Peek Preproduction Gallery
Cast and Crew: William Hurt, Alec Newman, Giancarlo Giannini, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Ian McNiece, Barbara Kodetová, P.H. Moriarty, Julie Cox, Matt Keeslar, Saskia Reeves, László I. Kish
Screenplay by: Written by: John Harrison
Produced by: David R. Kappes
Directed By: John Harrison
Music: Graeme Revell
The Review:

I'm not exactly the kind of person keen on writing a review of a miniseries like "Dune," but here goes. "Dune" takes place in a world where the key to world domination rests on a barren planet where a mysterious spice cultivates. It's kind of like "Star Wars," with its depiction of two warring political civilizations fighting for control of the spice, featuring a series of characters who make life-changing discoveries, some becoming heroes, others becoming worm food. The story is told in grand scale by John Harrison, who creates a world through special effects and costume design that, for the most part, looks flawless. As an outsider, I cannot begin to compare this depiction of Frank Herbert's novel to its source, but I can make the assumption that this is a film that will not disappear from view quietly, and will most likely be around for generations, providing reasons for dispute.

Image and Sound

While he's no George Lucas, John Harrison has assembled a team of well-to-do technicians to make "Dune" look and sound like the essence of pure science fiction. This DVD edition, with a newly mastered DTS soundtrack, is full of moments charged with deep bass, while making full use of the surrounds and front right-and-left channels. The images are crisp and exhibit overall good clarity, though some scenes do tend to feel muddled and fuzzy. --

The Extras

Disc One begins with "The Lure of Spice," the originally-released featurette that encompasses everything from casting and special effects to bringing Herbert's complex novel to the screen. This is followed by "Graeme Revell Reveals," an interview with the composer of the film's music who discusses the various Middle-Eastern influences incorporated into his score. In addition to these two features in the first disc is a complex gallery of visual effects still shots and conceptual photos, costume designs, and storyboard. ***

Disc Two contains a wealth of new material, beginning with "Willis McNelly on Frank Herbert's Dune" McNelly, who penned the "Dune Encyclopedia," breaks down the various themes, messages, and meanings of Herbert's work, and the result provides a greater fascination for the material. "Science Fiction / Science Future" is perhaps the most evocative of the DVD's features, and is a discussion between John Harrison, science fiction writers Harlan Ellison, Octavia Butler, Michael Cassutt, and inventor Ray Kurzwell. The group provides unique perspectives on technology and moral issues, relationships between science and religion, and various other topics that are sure to incite one to consider their own thoughts. Rounding out this disc are a collection of cast and crew bios, and comprehensive production notes, both carried over from the previous release. ***

Disc Three finds us in the midst of "The Color Wheel," in which director of photography Vittorio Storaro relates the look of the movie, its colors and appearance, to the underlying emotions and meanings and how they bring out these attributes. This is also explored in much the same manner in "Frank Herbert's Dune - A Cinematographic Treatment," which has also been carried over from the previous release. Another thought-provoking discussion arises in "Defining the Messiah," which compares the beliefs of various religious groups. And then we have "Walking and Talking with John Harrison," the definitive interview in his Harrison as he regails the process of adapting "Dune" for the screen in a manner that does the book justice, as well as comparing the social issues of the book and movie to reality.

Commentary The fact that "Dune" is stretched out over three discs, and divided into three seperate segments, allows for the production team to reveal many interesting facts about the production. Visual effects supervisors Ernest Farino, Tim McHugh and Greg Nicotero, and editor Harry Miller discuss the tools of their trade and applying them to the movie, while John Harrison goes deeper into things like story, relation to the novel, and his personal reflections on the overall experience of "Dune."
Final Words: Anyone who loved "Dune" will no doubt find pleasure in immersing themselves in this well-produced DVD set that comes with features that tie in nicely to the film

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June 27, 2002