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“Dune: Extended Edition”
Reviewed by: Wayne Klein
Genre: Science Fiction
Video: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages English, French (only for the theatrical version)
Subtitles English, French
Length 314 minutes
Rating PG-13/Unrated
Release Date 1/31/06
Studio Universal Home Video
Commentary: None
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: Designing Dune, Special Effects, Models & Miniatures, Wardrobe Design
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: Raffaella De Laurenttis introduces the deleted scenes with background on the production of the film
Trailers/TV Spots: NA
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: Deleted scenes
Music Video: None
Other: Photograph gallery, production notes
Cast and Crew:

Kyle McLachlan, Freddie Jones, Patrick Stewart, Virginia Madsen, Sean Young, Kenneth McMillan, Max Von Sydow, Brad Bourif,José Ferrer, Jürgen Prochnow, Fracesa Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Jack Nanc, Dean Stockwell, Sting

Written By: David Lynch/ Judas Booth based on Frank Herbert’s novel
Produced By: Raffaella De Laurentiis
Directed By: David Lynch/Alan Smithee
Music: Toto and Brian Eno
The Review:

Evidently “fear” wasn’t the mind killer that kept David Lynch’s “Dune” from succeeding as much Lynch’s attempt to compact novelist Frank Herbert’s sprawling novel into a two hour film. The sleeper’s still not awake in this re-release of the theatrical version of “Dune” and a cobbled together “Extended Edition” created originally for cable TV. David Lynch’s “Dune” is every bit as hypnotic, operatic in tone as Lynch’s other films. Before we go any further I have to admit to a bias here. I like Lynch’s flawed film for a couple of personal reasons. 1) I worked for Dino De Laurentiis for two years when they were based at the old MGM studio in Culver City (this was after "Dune" was released). 2) Jack Nance one of Lynch’s favorite character actors (and star of “Eraserhead”) was my apartment manager and an acquaintance of mine when I lived in Los Angeles and a heck of a nice guy. 3) I’m a fan of Frank Herbert’s novel and met him in 1976 and discussing the shape that a possible film of “Dune” would take as part of an interview for my school newspaper. Now that all the discloses are out of the way, I'll continue. ---

Although this version doesn’t quite live up to what he wanted, it captures most of the elaborate visuals he imagined and the story is still larger than life as befits one examining the birth of a messiah. “Dune” shares the same surreal quality that surrounds all of Lynch's films.. Although far from a perfect film Lynch manages to create a Reader’s Digest version of the massive novel compacting the major plot points of Frank Herbert’s novel into a breathless two hour and seventeen minute movie. Of the two versions of “Dune” that we are served here Lynch’s comes out ahead of the version directed by “Alan Smithee” where all the plot points are spelled out as if for children. The long sought after “Extened Edition” arrives for the first time in widescreen and while some of the added footage clarifies elements of the plot many scenes are pedantic and duplicate exposition seen other sequences. Some of the scenes were cut because they are bad scenes that don’t work while others were clearly cut for time constraints. While both versions have their merit Lynch’s original theatrical version is the more imaginative and challenging of the two. Fans of the “Extended Edition” (which Lynch had nothing to do with hence the director is credited as “Alan Smithee” and the writer to Lynch’s pseudonym “Judas Booth” a combination of Judas of Iscariot and John Wilkes Booth’s names suggesting his feelings at the betrayal of the studio for sanctioning the project without his involvement). Lynch shows surprising fidelity to Herbert’s themes as well. Herbert wrote “Dune” to examine the messiah myths that propagate every clture and the toll becoming a savior takes on a man and his family.

--- In the year 10,051 humanity has learned how to travel from one end of the known universe to another simply by “folding space”. The Navigators of these space ships are mutated human beings who have ingested a combination narcotic and health supplement mined on the desert planet of Arakas (called “Dune” because the planet consists of massive deserts and no oceans) guide these ships by simply imagining where they are coming from and where they are going to. Spice is all in this world as it extends life and allows for great insight improving mental facilities and creating psychic ability. When Emperor Shaddam (José Ferrer) believes his feudalist empire is threatened by House Atreides he arranges for Duke Leto Atreids (Jürgen Prochnow) to manage the planet Dune’s spice production kicking Atreides rival Baron Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan). Unknown to Duke Leto is the fact that this “promotion” is a sham; Shaddam uses the Baron to sabotage spice production in hopes that Leto will fail. Shaddam will then place his own troops under the Baron’s control to oust Leto kill him and his family and be rid of the threat once and for all. There’s a wild card in the deck that Shaddam and Harkonnen don’t quite understand. Paul (Kyle McLachlan in his first role) Leto’s son has inherited unusual abilities from his mother Jessica (Francesca Annis) a member of the Bene Gesserit an ancient order famed for their mental and physical abilities order interested in breeding a Kwisatz Haderach or superhuman with the abilities to see te future, control others with voice and other skills (not unlike the “Force” which George Lucas borrowed from “Dune” among many other concepts). Paul demonstrates abilities to suggest that he is this “superhuman” that can unite humanity. The residents of Dune called Fremen believe that Paul is, instead, a savior called Muad’Dib and will lead them to salvation against the empire. When a Navigator visits Shaddam telling him that the Spacing Guild (to which all Navigators belong) can sense his plot to kill Leto and his family, they insist only one thing to stay quiet—that Paul be murdered. Driven out into the unforgiving desert wilderness of Dune Paul becomes the savior everyone fears but to succeed he must first overcome the trials set before him by the Fremen. ---

Image and Sound:

Both the two hour and three hour versions of the movie look handsome. There’s a bit of analog defects in the form of flecks and dirt but, on the whole, both transfers look quite good. Both are presented in a good anamorphic widescreen transfer. The colors were always somewhat muted for the film. The transfer appears a bit darker than I remember the film as looking. Contrast is quite nice and colors accurate with nice flesh tones throughout. The grain apparent in the image is due to the conditions the film was shot under and the type of film used. The transfer doesn’t increase the grain to any great degree. There are also some minor digital flaws such as edge enhancement as well as some compression artifacts that are noticeable particularly during darker scenes but, on the whole, this transfer looks very good. The sound is impressive with a nice 5.1 mix. It’s certainly not as robust as I had hoped bt sounds extremely good with dialog clear and music having tremendous presence. Unlike the previously region 3 vKorean version the “Extended Edition” is also presented in 5.1. ---

The Extras:

Universal had hoped (as did fans) that Lynch would be involved in this special edition but he chose not to for various reasons. We don’t get any new extras featuring Lynch but producer Raffaella De Laurentiis appears in a five minute introduction to the deleted scenes gathered together for this edition. Some of the scenes do appear in the extended version while others are unfinished. All are presented in widescreen and there’s a significant amount of dirt and debris visible in these sequences. We also get four featurettes with interviews from those involved in the production of the film. The visual effects supervisors appear in both “Special Effects” and “Models & Miniatures” discussing their involvement. We also get to see behind-the-scenes footage and photos of the various models in vaious stages of completion. “Wardrobe Design” also includes a section with sketches and designer Bob Ringwood discussing his inspiration for the film. “Designing Dune” features production designer Anthony Masters discussing his approach to the material and how he collaborated with Lynch. The “Production Notes” are carried over from the previous edition of the theatrical release on DVD. We also get a photo gallery with behind-the-scenes shots taken to promote the film. By the way the design of the main menu is quite nicely done. The package is nicely designed with a tin outer covering housing a plastic disc holder and a one sheet discussing the bonus material for the film. ---

Commentary: Despite the fact that I hate the sound of Lynch’s voice he’s such a fascinating director that I would sit through his grating pinched nasal voice if only to discover a bit more about his thought process during production, difficulties and challenges he faced, etc. At the very least I would have loved to hear a commentary track cobbled together of comments by Kyle McLachlan, Brad Dourif and others discussing the difficulty in making this movie. Unfortunately we don’t get any commentary tracks. ---
Final Words:

A deluxe job by Universal at putting together these two versions of “Dune” and making them available on DVD deserves kudos. A splendid job all around although the film is presented as a dual sided dual layered DVD18 vs. two dual layered discs (what I would have preferred). The film benefits from an extremely nice transfer, some terrific featurettes, deleted scenes and production notes. The only thing missing is some level of involvement from David Lynch himself but that’s understandable given his feelings about the “Extended Edition”.

 

 
 
 
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