Frank Herbert's Dune
December 2, 2000 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Frank Herbert's Dune is premiering Sunday December 3 on the Sci Fi channel. Should be a trip.
posted by SilentSalamander (20 comments total)
Man, I hope they did a better job this time than last; the movie was a travesty.

Part of the problem was that there was simply too much material in the book to fit in a single movie. I hope they're doing this as a mini-series, to give themselves sufficient time to actually cover everything.

And get rid of all the damned voice-overs!
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:17 AM on December 2, 2000

Circles within circles: the writer/director of the miniseries has eliminated the voiceovers (per the CNN feature story):

"Perhaps one of the things I'll get criticized for," Harrison says, "is the choice not to use the internal monologue that Herbert used in the book. If you use the voice-over narrative -- if you use it to tell the emotional state of a character while you're watching that character -- it has the effect of stopping the motion picture. Movies are images and moving pictures. Novels are words."
posted by MattD at 10:40 AM on December 2, 2000

I actually liked the David Lynch/Dino de Laurentis movie a lot, as well as the book. I think that it's unfair for people to contrast what they consider "movie versions" of books. I mean, it's a different medium... it doesn't have to be the same story. I appreciate different directors' different interpretations of Herbert's work. After all, movie directors shouldn't be expected to crank out extremely high-fidelity (with respect to the original script) pictures like a machine... they're artists too, aren't they?

Anyway, I also enjoy the new Dune novels that have recently been written, "House Atreides" and "House Harkonnen"... and I believe them to be... dare I say it... BETTER WRITTEN then any of Herbert's novels?
posted by SilentSalamander at 11:02 AM on December 2, 2000

It just won't be the same without Sting in his shimmering blue battle-skivvies.
posted by scottandrew at 11:51 AM on December 2, 2000

Urk. Spice is supposed to turn your eyes blue, not make them glow like television sets.
posted by rodii at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2000

On a business trip to Salt Lake City, I took the book along, forgetting about this. I read it in about 12 hours flat. I've read all the sequels, which began to suck in increasing degrees, I'm really rather excited about this... thanks for reminding me.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2000

Looking forward to the TV series myself. I must say, though, that House Atreides was an unreadable, derivative nightmare. Every second sentence was a heavy-handed reference to previous Herbert material. Terribly distracting. The author seemed out to prove how well he knew Herbert's work, and added little to the Dune world, in my estimation.

I suppose following up such a popular work is an unenviable task. For me, the most engaging aspect of the Dune books is the sense of depth and attention to detail. I thought House Atreides was fan fiction, nothing more.
posted by LoganAxis at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2000

The author seemed out to prove how well he knew Herbert's work...
Being Frank Herbert's son - he probably knew it pretty well. :)
I actually liked the books that Brian Herbert wrote back in the 1980's, like Sudanna, Sudanna and 'Sidney's Comet' - but they were satire and very far removed from 'Dune' in just about every way. Unfortunately, they seem to be long out of print. Perhaps the best thing to come from "House Atreides" - which I haven't read and don't really want to- would be a reprint of these books.
Did anybody else ever see the uncut version of Lynch's 'Dune?' WGN ran it here in Chicago like 10 years ago as a miniseries (3 nights, I think). I saw it before reading the book and the plot of the movie actually made sense on it's own when stretched out to that length.
posted by twitch at 3:30 PM on December 2, 2000

God, I hope they don't screw up the worms. They simply must look realy, else all is lost.
posted by Ptrin at 5:45 PM on December 2, 2000

Lynch's 'Dune' is underrated, but like all of Lynch's movies, it looks neat but doesn't make any sense. I hope the guy who plays Paul Atreides doesn't suck. His acting seems to be pretty weak in the trailers.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 7:36 PM on December 2, 2000

twitch--The Sci-Fi Channel had been running a longer version of the movie (the "uncut" version?), with paintings of the Robot Reign etc at the beginning instead of the Virginia Madsen voiceover. A lot longer, more detail but no dramatic movement at all (IMHO). The last time was in the summer sometime, and now I don't know if they'll do it again... It was 5 hours with commercials, I think.
posted by aflakete at 7:50 PM on December 2, 2000

Being Frank Herbert's son - he probably knew it pretty well.

Good gravy.... I had completely forgotten (or blocked out) the fact that Brian Herbert co-wrote House Atreides. Thanks for the reminder.... :o) Still, I think I'm even more disappointed now.

posted by LoganAxis at 10:21 PM on December 2, 2000

I can't side with those who savage the film. It attempted to do the near-impossible and unsurprisingly failed. Even so, there were some interesting performances, and some top-notch and unforgettable visual work from both art direction and special effects standpoints. It just ended up a jumbled mess from a story point of view, reflecting the amount of the story they'd tried to tell.

I think it could have been done in 2, maybe 2.5 hours, but it would have required a firmer editor's knife hand.

I look forward to the Harrison adaptation mainly because it seems like he really enjoys the story and he has enough time to tell it. I'm not surprised that what I've seen of the thing so far indicates that they haven't strayed very far in a unique direction from a visual perspective. You might be able to run the two back-to-back and get a lot of confused viewers thinking they were one and the same.

According to, there are three substantiated versions of Dune:
  • Theatrical :137 min.
  • Alan Smithee/"TV Expanded" 2-parter: about 175 mins (190 including repeated credits: a studio recut disavowed by Lynch)
  • 3rd unreleased KTVU cut (unwittingly combining the two above), also about 150 mins.
There is no "four-hour" or "six-hour European" version, never was, and these fan rumors can't be backed up by even the maximum combined unique footage available. You could run the 175-min version in 240 mins with a lot of commercials and extras.

They also indicate at this site that Universal will only release to home video cuts that are sanctioned by the director. Still, for my money, a Brazil Criterion treatment seems easily justified (you can watch all the versions and compare/discuss).

See also IMDB alternate versions page.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 PM on December 2, 2000

Well, I also liked the movie. Fine, it wasn't perfect, but it was pretty neat nonetheless. But in all honesty, I really don't understand the level at which people dismiss it.
posted by ookamaka at 11:35 PM on December 2, 2000

it was a horror for lynch who hated making it but did give us Kyle, the image of cat milking and floating fat men.
i liked the marvel comic adaption/
from the previews it looks pretty good, i'll be watching if i get a chance. I did like the casting of the movie a lot thought.
(consideres shaving her head witch fashion again...)
posted by ethylene at 11:03 AM on December 3, 2000

Come on, the Lynch Dune movie rocks! This miniseries or whatever it is looks suspiciously like people getting precious about the source material - like when Steven King decided Kubrick's film of The Shining wasn't faithful enough to the book and directed his own dodgy version.
posted by Mocata at 4:12 AM on December 4, 2000

...but like all of Lynch's movies, it looks neat but doesn't make any sense.

while i won't attempt to explain what Lynch's films mean *to me*, i must disagree that they make no sense. Lynch is a visionary whose works require multiple viewings. If they make no sense to you, you should see them again.

To acquaint oneself to Lynchian works, my suggestion is to avoid chronilogical viewings and to start with the MASTERPIECE that is the Twin Peaks television series. TP is available to rent at most video stores.
posted by brittney at 3:05 PM on December 4, 2000

I was an in-retrospect embarassingly loud voice in Usenet Twin Peaks fandom (original perpetrator of the fake episode hoax and the "Mayor McCheese" ASCII Twin Peaks map, among other, er, exploits), but I must disagree. The Lynch du Lynch of all that is Lynchian will always be "Eraserhead."

Finished "Dune" (in case anyone is still reading this thread). It sucked. Maybe it's just unfilmable. The thing I hate about bad movies of beloved books is that make you wonder whether the book really might have been that bad afetr all.
posted by rodii at 7:26 AM on December 6, 2000

I dunno. I just finished watching the miniseries, and I thought it was pretty good. It managed to capture the feel of all the important aspects of te book.
posted by Ptrin at 9:05 AM on December 6, 2000

I was disappointed by some of the effects in the miniseries, though. In far too many shots they were obviously standing in front of a painting of distant rolling desert terrain. At one point you could even see the line between the sand on the ground and the background painting. In another shot, which was intended to be at night, the background looked like an orange painting lit by blue light, which it obviously was. And the shot out the big window of House Atreides was similarly unrealistic. Rear-projection shots were sometimes achingly obvious. OK, I know it was probably shot on a pretty tight budget, and God knows the Sci-Fi channel has come a long way from its humble beginnings and I'm truly glad to see they have the budget to make their own programming instead of running endless repeats of "Battlestar Galactica." They do get my kudos for trying. But whoever's directing this film is no David Lynch, not that that would necessarily be an improvement. While it's enjoyable, it's, sadly, not the definitive science fiction miniseries.
posted by kindall at 7:45 PM on December 6, 2000

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