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Miniseries Review


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Guest Lee M. Goswick

The Dune miniseries that aired on the Scifi channel from December 3, 2000 - December 5, 2000, was perhaps the worst screen adaptation of a science fiction novel I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. The horror, omissions, and ridiculous fabrications of the miniseries are so immense, I am almost at a loss as to where I should begin.

Perhaps the greatest omission of the miniseries, that is found in both the novels and David Lynch's film, are the inner monologues. These are essential for character and plot development, as well as providing a richer background in which to tell the story. One scene in which the inner monologues are essential to the story is the one that finds Liet Kynes examining Paul's stillsuit before they, along with Duke Leto, are to venture into the desert. Instead of having Paul state that "it seemed the proper way" (which is also an important phrasing) when asked how he knew to wear the stillsuit and then having Kynes think to himself "...he shall know your ways as if born to them..." (which is extremely significant for understanding the legend of the Kwisatz Haderach among the Fremen), they decided to have Paul give some adolescent wisecrack about it appearing right, in a rather unbearably snotty tone.

Such omissions are too numerous to catologue, but I shall attempt to briefly list other unexcusably annoying aspects of the movie:

1. Pronunciation: 'Leto' is pronounced 'Lee-toe', not'Lay-to', and 'Harkonnen' is pronounced 'HAR-KOE-NUN', not 'HAR-kuh-nun'. Frank Herbert worked with David Lynch to develop the sceneplay for the film Dune and was present during filming, so, I believe, it is safe to assume that the pronunciations used in Lynch's film Dune are those that Herbert intended.

2. Casting: Leto and Paul should not have been cast as aryan √úbermenschen, but rather as greek-looking, since 'Atreides' does mean 'son of Atreus'(re-read your classical mythology text).

3. Costume and Set design: The desert scenes did not appear as though they were shot in a desert, but rather an empty room that had been filled with sand. The lighted looked artificial and the backgrounds were horrible. I thought that painted backgrounds were not used in any films made after the 1950's, unless it was for the appeal of having a painted background in and of itself. The costumes were horrible all around. Again, see my comments about Herbert's connection with the film Dune. The costumes were far superior. Lynch showed us how stillsuits should look, and that image, which cannot be removed from my mind, is much much much cooler than the rags they had them wear while they were playing in the sandbox. The same goes for the Spacing Guild uniforms. The ones used in the miniseries looked like velvet pajamas with dunce caps, and the navigators did not look like mutated humans, but angels. What were they thinking?

4. Baron Vladmir Harkonnen speaking in rhyme. I believe the idiocy of that is immediately obvious and no comment is necessary.

5. The added scenes with Princess Irulan, Shaddam IV, et. al.: These scenes were not in the book and contributed absolutely nothing to the movie or the plot, expect to make it worse.

6. Lack of back-story: If the movie were my sole source of knowledge of the Dune Universe, I probably would know nothing of the Butlerian Jihad, the political and historical significance of CHOAM, the Spacing Guild, and Bene Gesserit, that there was a planet called Ix, how far in the future these events take place, or why the Kwisatz Haderach is so important to begin in the first place.

7. One omission deserves special mention: When Chani (pronounced "CHAH-KNEE" not "CHAINEY") speaks to Paul in reference to his homeworld, she says, "Tell me of the waters of your homeworld, USUL". The point is that the miniseries entirely ignored the fact that Paul was given a secret name by Stilgar to be used only by those in his Sietch. Ignoring that not only makes the miniseries even more unfaithful to the novel, but denies viewers any insight into the structure of Fremen society.

and finally,

8. The death of the Beast Rabban: I know it must provide more dramatic appeal to have Rabban killed by a righteous and vengeful Fremen mob on the streets of Arrakeen, but that simply did not happen (neither did his personal public executions of Fremens). Rabban was killed by the Emperor, which says something important about the social structure of the Empire and the personality of the Emperor that, so it appears, the producers, in their infinite wisdom and superior knowledge of Dune, decided not to include.

In closing, I wish to state that I hope for the sake of the integrity of Dune and the great enjoyment I have received from Frank Herbert's novels, that the fools who produced the Dune miniseries do not further ruin it by loosing a Dune: Messiah miniseries upon the world.

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Guest Matt Powers

I'm not even sure if anyone is still reading these reviews or still cares about them, but after reading many of the reviews on the site, I felt like I had to put my own two cents in. Of course, if you have seen the first Dune movie, directed by David Lynch, you cannot help but make comparisons between the two. The only thing I have to say in that regard is that the new Dune miniseries did something that the original motion picture version could not do: it made me interested in the story. I have known for some time that an entire series of Dune novels has existed, but after seeing the original movie, I had decided that they were not worth my time. It's for this reason alone that I think the original movie is horribly lacking. When I was watching the miniseries, I was surprised at how multi-layered the story was. Since the miniseries, I have bought and read the first Dune novel, which I have enjoyed very much. Another comment about the movie: the use of internal monologues. The movie is stuffed full of them. A reviewer before me harped on the miniseries for not having any internal monologues. Obviously, anyone with this opinion doesn't know anything about making television or movies entertaining. Internal monologues are fine, when used properly, but when your entire cast is talking to themselves instead of to each other, you have a serious problem, because nothing is actually happening. The very nature of movies is that you are shown things whenever possible, not told. If you can show the same thing visually, then that's how it should be done. And my final complaint about the movie is the interpretation of the Weirding Way. No-where in any part of the first novel do you see anything about anyone using sound waves as a weapon, or the name Muad'Dib being a "killing word." No armies of Fremen riding worms yelling "MMMJOT" or whatever it was. The fact that this was absent from the miniseries made me very curious, and I was actually shocked to find out that it was created solely for the movie version, and I felt cheated that something so prominent in the movie was not even a part of the Dune story after all.

Now, getting to the miniseries:

As a whole, I believe the miniseries to be well done. Well written and well acted most of the time, and as miniseries' go, very well directed. For my first comments about the miniseries I'll try and limit myself from comparing to the book. Though I think the miniseries overall was head and shoulders above the level of the movie, there are still several things that bother me about it.

1. The Arrakis backdrop. Knowing a thing or two about the rigors of producing films and television, the idea of creating a backdrop to hang in a set instead of filming on location is a wonderful money-saving idea. However, if it doesn't look good, it's still not worth much in the long haul. To be fair, many shots with the backdrop work nicely. However, the examples of it not working are also very numerous. When dealing with a backdrop, it's important to make it so that it can be lit consistently with the actual set environment, which is something they apparently did not consider for the miniseries. When it is night, and the cast and the sand under them is blue, and the long distance dunes in the background are still a sandy yellow shade, you have a problem.

2. Story gaps. You can't watch the miniseries without occasionally feeling like the characters in the story know something you don't, and they aren't going to share. Reading the novel helps immensely, but as a stand-alone peice, sometimes you are left going, "Huh? What just happened?" It takes a few viewings to figure it out without the book as an aid.

3. Costuming. While the costuming was colorful and often lavish, giving you a better feel of the aristocracy and politics of the Great Houses that is the driving force behind much of the Dune plotline, often they miss the mark. Costumes that are too complicated, or just plain silly looking, often show up. The worst example is the Sardaukar warriors, that look like black clad Pillsbury dough boys with funny-looking hats. It's a breath of fresh air when Paul and Jessica run off to the Fremen, who wear simple, loose-fitting, basically normal clothing.

4. Bad Guys rhyme. Why? Why does Baron Harkonnen rhyme? Why does he look at the camera sometimes when he does it? Is he talking to us?

As far as good things go, there are plenty:

1. Worms. Immensely better than the grey, laughable earthworm looking monsters in the movie, these worms are dynamic and threatening, and a lot more fun to watch. These worms are the Makers.

2. The Weirding Way. The Voice and the Weirding style of fighting are MUCH BETTER. The fights are actually coreographed, and entertaining to watch, and the fast, blurred motions of the Weirding Way are fun to watch. On the other hand, I was disappointed with how underused it was.

Now as far as comparing it to the book, I would have to say that the miniseries is much more faithful. Unfortunately, in the effort to make a very faithful adaptation, they messed up in many places:

1. Thufir Hawat. The Atreides Mentat. Head of security at Arrakeen. Where is he, I wondered? The pudgy guy in the purple outfit is your answer. This quite prominent character is left in the lurch in the miniseries. A sad thing, really. Also, Piter is horribly underused as well. One wonders what the big deal with a Mentat is... they don't do much of anything in the miniseries. They sure had plenty to do in the novel. Thufir had a whole subplot...

2. Shallow Depth. The characters in the novel do a lot of thinking... a lot of talking to themselves, just as every novel character does. When adapting for a movie or TV show, these interior conversations and thoughts have to be expressed somehow, especially when they contain important plot information. The miniseries declined to do this 90% of the time. What results is a faithful adaptation to the surface events and dialogue, but without the immense, rich depth that was behind everything in the novel. So much of the Fremen mystique, the spiritual angles, Paul's transformation from boy to Messiah, and the motivations behind many actions are lost, and leave you with a sense of "Why did that happen?" After reading the book, and getting a sense of why things were the way they were, the miniseries comes into a whole new light. However, it should have had it's own light. Several of the Harkonnen scenes, which seem to be scenes designed just to remind you that there are still bad guys out there, should have been scenes illustrating the power struggles within, and the Baron's ambition to be Emperor. Instead, the scenes are two dimensional. Many other scenes are like this, and after reading the book, you enjoy the miniseries very much for rarely contradicting the novel, and occasionally being very clever, but I was often left with the feeling that much of the show was a mass of missed opportunities. It could have been much better.

3. Princess Irulan. Sure, she's a major part of the Dune story, but as far as the first book is concerned, she's only a scribe... and observer after the fact. While the scenes written featuring Irulan are well constructed, well acted, and fit nicely into the Dune plot, they are ultimately unneccesary, and absolutely fail to do what Irulan did in the first Dune novel, and that was give a massive amount of insight into the events of the novel, through the eye of history... adding more of an epic feel and adding richness to the story, making it seem more real. All there is to praise for actual worth in the miniseries Irulan is the strong performance by the actress and the fact that Irulan does play a larger part in novels to come. I think the better alternative would be to use Irulan as a Narrator of the Dune story, as she was in the novel. I think this would have been much more successful.

Overall, I felt the Dune miniseries was a very good try, and a much better attempt than Lynch's Dune, which seemed to muddle about in dark, forbodeing locations, following a plot that was confusing most of the time, and with a disgusting Baron that hardly does justice to the book's villain. However, the miniseries was not everything it could have been, which leaves me with the sincere hope that Dune Messiah yields much better results. Neither the movie nor the miniseries captures the true depth of Dune. My advice to everyone is read the book. The true vision lies there, and with your imagination, it'll never be wrong for you.

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Guest Nicholas Faubert

I thought that Harrison's version was well executed, mainly because of it's longer duration. It's plain to see the end result from more time to explain things, though I still had to explain it to my sister (I had to explain Wing Commander to my sister as well, but I digress).

There were somethings that I liked from the miniseries, and somethings that I preferred from the Movie. Lynch had some A-list actors on board, but I think that the Baron was far more beliveable in Harrison's version, not to mention the Emperor. Alia was much better; she didn't have that creepy voice that she did in the movie. It will make for a more tragic character later on when Dune Messiah comes out, since she is physically normal, but cursed with a mind advanced beyond her years. But Lynch's representation of the Mentats Piter deVries and Thufir Hawat were much more developed (as much of an oxymoron as that sounds).

One thing bugged me throughout the movie, dispite the fact that more of Herbert's book was finally being told: Every so often, the Fremen would be just outside their Sietch without their stillsuits, a big mistake for a people who go to such strides to preserve water.

On the other hand, with Lynch's version, you have it raining at the end.

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I think the Dune mini series was great. Although some of the plot has changed from the novel but I think they did that just to make the story understandable for people who haven't read the dune novel. Thats why some of the terminlogy like CHOAM wasn't mentioned that much. The settings were gorgeous like the palace hall with its marble walls and floor and the furniture just to name a few areas. The acting was good for a mini series. I hope this mini series attracts a lot of new people to get interested int the Dune series. Just like myself. I just got into Dune after playing Dune 2000 and I'm just reading the novel right now. Oh yeah I just have one question. I haven't seen any mention of House Ordos in the Dune novel. Were they part of Frank Herbert's creation? If so what novel are they featured in? House Ordos is my favourite house.

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Guest Michael DeGroot

Here's the simple review: I love it.

I don't see how anyone can complain about this miniseries. Granted its not perfect to the book series in plot and details, but in case you haven't notice, there's a lot of depth to the Dune universe. It would take twice as long as the miniseries just to get all the details into the show. Unfortunately, they don't have the time for that. If you write a show with a whole ton of technical terms, you'll lose the audience that doesn't know the series. Believe it or not, the key of television is not the show, its the advertising. No advertising, no show.

I've watched the first two parts, and the last part is on tonight (SPACEcast).

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First all the people who say oh well its wasnt in depth enought well of course not, it cant be anymore indepth than the book and do to that it woul have to be word for word and 12 hours long. I loved the mini series. Im hoping Harrison will look into mini series for the other books particiulary god emperor of dune. I like harrisons style. there was just something about the episoads that I liked.

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Guest Thufir Hawat

First all the people who say oh well its wasnt in depth enought well of course not, it cant be anymore indepth than the book and do to that it woul have to be word for word and 12 hours long. I loved the mini series. Im hoping Harrison will look into mini series for the other books particiulary god emperor of dune. I like harrisons style. there was just something about the episoads that I liked.

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Guest Xeromboteles

Both David Lynch and John Harrison have contributed

interpretations of Frank Herbert's work which are partly complementary, partly contradictory, but (both of which) are completely valuable.

Having read the novels *before* seeing either the MiniSeries or (the DVD version of) the movie, I can appreciate Lynch's sincere attempt at a "complete treatment" of Dune (despite the "weirding modules", and Lynch's own trademark darkness & perversity). However, I think that without serializing Dune (as in the "Star Wars" series), the next-best format (in terms of length) is the Television MiniSeries. This format, and Harrison's assemblage of stellar talent, makes me appreciate Harrison's treatment as more remarkable than Lynch's, despite (as others have pointed out) the smaller budget.

* * *

About the Baron's rhyming - although several other commentaries expressed irritation with this seemingly out-of-place vehicle, it is obvious to anyone familiar with Shakespeare (for example, read Henry V, or even watch Olivier's or Branagh's film, with its end-scenes punctated by rhyming sonnets) that the rhyming couplets are intentional nods to the "Shakespearean" elements in Dune, like the sweeping historical narrative (albeit history of events 10,000 years hence), political intrigue, and (hooray!) Herbert's bard-like psychological insight into the many affairs and motivations that make us human. Although not a part of Herbert's narrative, I think this rhyming by the Baron was an addition by Harrison that will prove to be prophetic - Herbert's Dune series may one day be considered not only as a "New Classic", but may even be inspiration for *future* revisitations of these noble, tragic archetypes - The melancholy Paul, both ruler and victim of fate, etc.

There's something about these characters that capture our imaginations; the fact that other contemporary artists (such as these two directors, Lynch and Harrison) are intrigued by the Dune universe, is tribute to Herbert's legacy.

"The play's the thing."

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Guest Sarah Fretz

I had only heard of the book and movie with Sting from my husband who said the book was good but the movie was not. I was glad that my introduction to Dune was this fantastic miniseries. It had me riveted and I was just overwhelmed by the great FX. I got a copy of the book and have begun reading it. It leaves Star Wars in the dust!! George Lucas wishes he made this flick!! This series is a must see for all sci fi fans!!

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Guest Kevin Brinn

THE MINISERIES WAS INCREDIBLE! About 4 years ago, I first watched the 4 hour Lynch film on the Sci-fi channel. The story interested me, and when I found out it was based on a novel, I went right out and started reading it. Once I had completed it, I realized that it was the greatest novel in not just in the genre of science fition, but in american literature overall. Also, after finishing it, I realized that Lynch's film was a steaming pile of dog shit that ruined a truly beautiful universe.

I am very glad that someone else felt the same way. Namely, John Harrison. When I discovered that the sci-fi channel was remaking it as a 6 hour made-for-TV movie, I jumped for joy. Just before it aired, I spent the month of November rereading Dune. After seeing the whole thing, I was thoroughly impressed and very glad that it was made. I will now conduct a film to film analysis (with book comparisons here and there) of the two films.

I know those who have been reading these reviews feel that many repeat themselves, so I'll try not to repeat them.

1. SCRIPT

A 4 1/2 hour time frame can tell much more than a 2 hour time frame. Many have complained about how Herbert's famous "inner monologue" was not included in the miniseries. I understand why Harrison did this and am kind of glad he did it. I have a quote for all of you who disagree with me.

"Novels are about what people think; plays are about what people say; screenplays are about what people do."

As a fan of all three media, I agree with this credo. This is why I disliked the inner monologues of Lynch's film and was glad it was removed. Finally, the miniseries stayed much closer to the book. It made very few cuts, and trimmed and rearranged to include the important scenes and plot points. There are two scenes from the book that I wish they had included. The Feyd-Rautha slave battle scene and the first Dr. Yueh scene. That fight scene is important to the character of Feyd-Rautha because it reveals how weak he is. I wanted the Dr. Yueh scene because my favorite piece of technology in Dune was the Orange Catholic Bible, but since they underplayed the character of Yueh, I let it slide.

2. CASTING

I thought that the casting in the miniseries was much better than the movie. Since the script of the Lynch movie was so bad and underdeveloped, the acting wasn't that great. Alec Newman really showed us the evolution of Paul from boy to man (stubble and spiked hair) while Kyle MacLachlan gave a very stale and unchanging performance. Gurney was better (don't get me wrong, I respect Patrick Stewart, but P.H. Moriarity seemed much more like Herbert's "ugly lump of a man"). The Baron was much better because he seemed more like a fiendish politician as opposed to Lynch's disgusting raving madman. Saskia Reeves turned out a better performance as Jessica (script) as did William Hurt as Duke Leto. The same goes for Stilgar, Feyd, Rabban, Irulan, the Emperor, Reverend Mother Ramallo, and Otheym (an important member of the Fedaykin). The parts of Chani and Dr. Kynes were better because they were both better talents. I will give Lynch the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. His was a lot truer to the book. I was unsatisfied with the characters of the Mentants and Yueh, but I accepted it and will get to why later.

3. COSTUMING

I thought the costuming in the miniseries was much better than in the movie. I thought the colors and robes were much truer to Herbert's vision than Lynch's black depressing creation of dark rooms, drab uniforms and bland bodysuits. The stillsuits with robes looked much better, but I will get to that in the Fremen section.

4. SETS

Many people have complained about there being backdrops. They have asked "Why were they so cheap? Why didn't they shoot in a real desert?" DOES ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT TELEVISION AND FILM! First of all, this is a made for tv movie, not a feature film. And another thing, do you people understand what comes with shooting in a desert? It is expensive, uncomfortable and incredibly time-consuming. They actually were originally planning to shoot in a desert, but they didn't because of the reasons I just listed. I personally thought that Harrison's desert backdrops were an ingenious stroke of compromise, and felt more like the Dune I imagined than Lynch's. In an open desert, one can't create the desert to their liking or control conditions. On a sound stage, they can, and they can do what is necessary to make the weather more connected with what's going, there by making it closer to the book. I will talk about the desert more in my next section.

5. CGI

CGI made everything much more impressive. Harrison's worms looked less like slow lifeless earthworms and more like living breathing creatures of majesty. The ornithopters looked more like the insects that Herbert described and less like spaceships with stubby little wings (and they were everywhere, just as Herbert had intended). I personally think that Dune 2000 has the best ornithopter, but Harrison's still look really cool (the use of only one real lifesized ornithopter was a very clever budget saver in my opinion). CGI also made the Water of Life changing sequence much more like I had pictured from the book. Finally, CGI created the epic superwide shots of the desert and Arrakeen that were just plain beautiful (Lynch could have never done anything like that back in the 80s).

6. MENTANTS (and other underplayed characters)

I was very unsatisfied with how the characters of Thufir Hawat and Piter De Vries were dumbed down from human super computers to mere advisors. The same with Dr. Yueh. I have accepted this though because the overall product is still so very good. Harrison went for a stronger focus on Arrakis existence than Imperialum existence (which is OK).

7. IRULAN (the overplayed character)

Many have complained about how Irulan had a big part in the miniseries. As I've watched the miniseries a couple of times, I have learned to accept this. In the novel through the passages from her books, we discover that she is an observer. She plays this same role of being just an observer in the miniseries, but merely more directly. One scene that I greatly disliked was when Paul and Irulan were having a deep personal connection during the dinner party. Paul's relationship (and marriage) with Irulan is everything but personal, and the fact that she plots against him in Dune Messiah makes this moment in the miniseries even more distasteful.

8. FREMEN (most important)

Lynch's Fremen were TERRIBLE. The drab, poorly designed stillsuits (a noseplug? period?) and absence of robes made the Fremen look like a bunch of funny little space men on the sand. The fact that there was no depth to them didn't help either. Lynch's Fremen were not a culture. They were Paul Atreides' personal army of vengance who didn't need to appear until Paul needed them.

Harrison's Fremen were beautiful. Their beautifully complicated earthtone stillsuits (full head cover and face mask) combined with hoods and robes made my vision and the vision that Herbert described unfold in front of my eyes. Harrison's Fremen were a living breathing culture; fully equiped with day-to-day operations like food preparation, small talk among people, and children running around playing. Now that I think about it, I don't think there was a single Fremen child in all of Lynch's film. How sad. Harrison gave his Fremen a more natural feel, which was what I imagined while reading the book. Harrison's Fremen were so much better that it made me want to cry. They were so beautiful.

The worm riding was better and truer the book as well.

9. THE WIERDING WAY

What is the Wierding Way?

According to Herbert, "a flash of robes, and Jessica had Stilgar against the wall". The Wierding Way is a method of hand-to-hand combat that requires lighning-quick speed and agility.

According to Harrison, The Wierding Way is a method of hand-to-hand combat that requires lighning-quick speed and agility (as represented by a sped-up frame rate).

According to Lynch, The Wierding Way is a stupid ass gun that requires you to hold a black block in your hand, strap and smoker's speaking box to your throat, and yell some gibberish to make the block fire a laser (that sounds REALLY difficult to learn). Lynch's Wierding Way can BURN IN HELL!

10. PRONUNCIATION

Why is everyone making such a big deal about pronunciation! So they say Harkonnen a little fast, BIG FLIPPING DEAL! Find something better to bitch about.

11. NAMES

I agree with with most people that the names of Usul and Lisan-al-Giab should not have been cut; but unlike most people, I understand why they did it and accept it. Lets face it, the American public is stupid. I seriously don't think they would have been able to handle Paul having 2 Fremen names and 2 Fremen messiah names, and Harrison understood this too. So I understand. I don't condone it, but I understand.

12. GUILD NAVIGATORS

The Navigators in both works make me want to puke! Guild Navigators in the Dune novel are not funny fish things floating in tanks, nor are they majestic winged creatures. They are MEN. Simple, ordinary, physically unchanged men. The only difference between a normal man and a Guild Navigator is that the eyes of a Guild Navigator are so blue from spice consumption that they are practically black. Being a fine writer, Herbert avoided such cheesy scifi cliches and went for a more symbolic approach. As for the Steersmen in Dune Messiah, I don't like them and wish they weren't there because they weren't in the first novel (but that's another story entirely).

In conclusion, I believe that Harrison got it right and the miniseries will usher in a whole new plethora of Dune fans that the Lynch movie could not (take a gander at Matt Powers' review on this very page (9th one down)). I personally think that Harrison's work should be praised and viewed by all, while every last copy of Lynch's film should be burned and forgotten. Its rather sad that one man can spent 60 million dollars to end up with 2 hours worth of crap while another can create a 4 1/2 hour masterpiece of cinematic adaptation on a 20 million dollar budget.

I think now that a proper film version of Dune has been created, Frank Herbert's spirit can finally rest easy.

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Guest Dark Shogun

I was pleased the way more of the story was included yet there was still some things missing.

The look of the destert was all wrong. It didn't look like a real desert, but more like a 'studio-created' desert.

Why did Paul have so much trouble killing Feyd?

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I recently purchased the VHS edition of the Mini series. After reading some of the articles listed I thought I make a few things clear to everyone.

Firstly the reviewers here state that the pronounciations of characters/ family names in the Mini Series are inaccurate. Actually after hearing records of Frank Herbert's reading of excerpts of his books from the 70's I can say that these pronounciations are "spot on" to how Herbert pronouced them. Except for the Name Atreides (Herbert pronounces this as A-TREYEHH-DEES as opposed to the 1984 movie/ 2000 Mini series pronounciation A-TREY-DEES!!)Although this is not to say that the Herbert pronounciations are wholly accurate in the literary sense!!. Personally I prefer the Lynch pronounciations (And so did Herbert in the end!!)

As for the Mini Series itself it does cover the original book very closely although the director has made some of his own changes as well. But you must remember that with movie adaptions from novels the viewer is seeing the visual summary of someone elses interpretation of the book. (In this case it is the Director's)

The Mini series is quite well made for a TV adaption. Here are the good and bad elements of the series:

THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE MINI SERIES:

THE SETS: Some of the sets like the Emperor's palace and the Atreides palace are quite lavish and vast.

THE ACTING: Some of the acting is very good such as the portrayals of Chani, Alia and the Baron who are all very accurate representations of the characters described in Herbert's novel. The actress who portrayed Jessica was also good (I found "her" Jessica to be much more affectionate towards Paul than the character in the novel/ 1984 movie.

THE FIGHT SCENES: The fight scenes (like the one between Feyd and the slave in the beginning are very well staged!!). But they are very different to how Herbert described combat in his book.

SOME VERY GOOD SCENES: The Water of Life ceremony is very well done. I also liked the full explanation of the relationship between worm and spice by Chani to Paul. It was much clearer than the 1984 movie.

THE BAD THINGS ABOUT THE MINI SERIES:

THE OVERALL (BAD) ACTING: The overall acting is bad. I thought the performance of William Hurt as Duke Leto to be very pallid. He murmurs his lines and comes accross as quite bored. (The Duke in the book was a very loud and stern character. But he was a charasmatic leader of men). Other weak performances include (for convenience sake I won't mention the cast names) Gurney Halleck who was greatly miscast.

The actor who plays him keeps moving his arms when talking like he is a Thunderbirds puppet. His accent is so thick and his voice so hoarse at times he seems inaudible. Which is strange because Halleck was meant to be a Troubador (i.e. a poet) and so his voice should be more softer/ euphonous!!.

The actor who played the Guild Ambassador was laughable. He kept moving his hands when talking as if he was conjuring up magic. He looked like he was pretending to be Dracula with that stupid voice and hand movements.

The Emperor, Princess Irulan and the Reverend mother Mohiam are terribly portrayed by the cast in this series.

THE SPECIAL FX: There are good effects like the navigator and the worms but overall the effects are quite weak. Especially the Ornithopter effects which look like cut scenes from the DUNE 2000 PC game. The exteriors of the Atreides palace look fake as do the desert backdrops.

The body shields (which appear in only one scene in the entire 4.5 hour series) look like bad negative scratching. Also confusing is that the Lasguns in the series fire like machineguns. I am a big fan of very good CGI but I much prefer good stop motion FX (as in the 1984 movie) to the bad CGI in the mini series.

THE COSTUMES:

There are some very good costumes in the mini series such as the Fremen (who look exactly like they are described in the book) and the guildsmen. The Atreides troopers also look OK. But overall the costumes are TERRIBLE. It seems like the higher the level of authority the character has the more stupid the hat they must wear (Such as the Emperor and the Reverend Mother).

The Sardaukar are all dressed as an eighties version of Shakespeare's Romeo. And you'll cry laughing when you see Irulans cocktail dress!!!. And Feyd Rautha looks like he's got a kite stuck to the back of his neck throughout the entire series!!

It is a pity that Harrison decided not to use exact costumes as described from the novel (Such as the grey unirforms and black helmets worn by the Sardaukar and the Blue feudalist uniforms of the Harkonnen etc)

THE MUSICAL SCORE: Does sound tragic towards the end but overall sounds quite weak and irrelevant.

THE DIRECTION:

John Harrison's direction is flawed. His overuse of stock footage during the battle scenes are quite noticible as is his lack of pace during the series.

His presentation of certain characters in his script are wholly inaccurate such as Feyd Rautha (who Harrison conveys as a 2-faced spoilt rentboy!!) not like the noble gladiator and heir as described in the book. I also do not like the way Harrison has him trying to assassinate his uncle the Baron of his own accord.

In the book he was corrupted by POW Thufir Hawat who put him up to it. And the plan of the Baron to have Feyd kill Rabban in the series was never mentioned in the book. The plan was that Feyd would simply replace Rabban as governor of Dune in the attempt to win the loyalty of the people of Dune.

Finally Harrison assumes that everyone who watches this Adaption has also read the book. Lack of important expalantions (such as the Bene Gesserit mind powers) and the lack of narrative for key scenes as well as the omission of the "inner thoughts" of the characters only serve to confuse non readers of the book. If any non reader was slightly confused by the 1984 movie they would certainly have no hope of finding clarity in this adaption.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON 1984 MOVIE AND 2000 MINI SERIES.

Some readers of the book criticised Lynch for his changes in the Dune story (such as Weirding modules, heartplugs etc). But one must remember that Lynch was updating the story as well as adapting it. Techno Feudalism is considered belonging more to fantasy than the SCI FI genre. And a SCI FI film containing big battles where intergalactic armies stab each other with little daggers would be considered too cheesy for a contemporary "Star Wars" audience. So Lynch cannot be blamed for any diversion from the book in this sense. As for the Final scene in the 1984 movie where Paul makes it rain on Dune. Lynch was only trying to make a big climatic ending instead of the wimpy anti climatic ending of the book (which is featured in the Mini Series).

Cinema audiences prefer big finales to low key melodramatic endings like the one that's featured in the book. So Lynch was only trying to make and ending that would please the mainstream audience and SUPRISE the readers (By indicating that Paul actually was the KWISATZ HADERACH who had universal powers instead of him just "pretending" to be this superhuman as conveyed in the Herbert's book).

So Lynch was quite right to make the changes he did. By the way Harrison duplicates this in his own production by showing Paul praying on top of a podium in front of the Fremen while a flow of water (that he creates with his mind) pours on top of them (Funnily enough It looks like he is peeing in front of the Fremen).

Overall the series is ok and I look forward to the next installments that Harrison will bw directing. But I think Non readers of the book should probably stay clear of this series because they will find it very confusing as it is clearly aimed at anyone who has read the book. unless of course they are massive SCI FI fans. I would strongly recommend them to watch the 1984 movie instead which has better effects, costumes, acting and directing. Overall the 1984 version is the better representation of the book thanks to Lynch's vision. Who if the rumours are true is going to release a definitive full version of his classic DUNE next year.

VERDICT : MINI SERIES 7/10 : 1984 MOVIE 10/10

By the way anyone who agrees or disagrees with this they may email me.

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Guest Starman

I think the first book is one of the 10 greatest SCI-FI books ever written, might even be top 5 material. It has everything anyone could ever want in a piece of fiction, a riveting plot, great characters, substantial and interesting themes and enough information and interactions that one can read it over and over and never tire of it. I understand that a 2 hour movie, even a 6 hour mini series cannot do all of that justice. So I was prepared to be unimpressed and was by the Lynch movie. It seemed to follow the use the characters and the general universe of Dune but the story cahnged so much that I thought it was a different story. The performances of the actors was at best medicore to bad and I didn't ever develop the identity with the characters you do while reading the book.

The Miniseries was much better than the movie. The acting was good to medicore, strangely the most medicore was that of William Hurt, the most known actor. Granted the role of Duke Leto is one with a early exit, it seemed that he was just working thorugh it. I didn't get the strong natural leader appearance at all. The other roles were satisfactory, however I think the lessening of the support characters roles such as Thufir Hawat, lessens the complexity and richness of the story. Why would a Duke or Baron with the wealth of a planet hire what appeared to be subservient barely competent advisors. The same for the Doctor.

One of the scenes deleted from both interpetations and I feel is vital to the story is the short scene between Paul and Doctor Kynes/Liet. Here I think a very important fact is established. Liet and Paul have reached an understanding and Liet has accepted Paul as man worth following. In return Paul has pledeged himslef to the Fremen and their cause. Because this scene has been left out I felt that it doesn't show the the personal chrisma that Paul was able to exude. I felt that the rest of the interactions with the Fremen throughout the novel are for the most part stylized and ritualistic. It is important to show that Paul is also capable of making a mistake as he did in his scene with Liet as well turning the situation into something positive. It also explains why Stilgar was able to find them.

The increased role of Irulan is acceptable to me. She has a very critical role in the following books and to make sure that the viewers of the series understand her is important. However the miniseries didn't include the fact that she was Bene Gesserit Trained which is also of vital importance in the following books.

I liked the Fight scene between Feyd and Paul in the Series and I think the Baron was much more beleivable as well. The Emperor was well played. The performance by the actor who portrayed Reverend Mother in the beginning was medicore.

All in all it was a vast improvement over the movie. I do agree with some of the other posts here as to costumes, why change what the book described?

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Guest Valentin

I agree that some important scenes are left out, like when Mapes gives Jessica the crysknife, or Paul's words when Kynes meets Paul and Leto for the first time. Leto doesn't seem very convincing, and Yueh's and Thufir's costumes suck. The rest is really good.

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Guest Greg Brew

I may be young and pretty naive, but I can tell a good movie, or miniseries, from a bad one. Personally, I was very impressed by the Dune minisries. They kept in the most crucial bits of info from the book, added some defining features, and creating a perfect balance that makes it great. I mean, let's face it; the one thing about turning a book into a movie (espicially a scifi book) is to remake explanatory dialogue into action sequences so the audience can understand what's happening, and be amazed by the special effects. The main reason Lynch's movie stunk SO badly was because they did not have adequate abilities to do this. For instance, the scene where Paul is meditating in the desert is to a.)show the audience how he has changed from part 2to part 3 and b.)to depict his vision of Arrakis after his victory. Another example is when Paul is describing his powers to Jessica after he takes the Water of Life. I mean, what do you want more, a stunning sequence of a person telling another an incredibly important fact, and spark a revelation in the audience, or a slow, drawn out discussion between two people about a topic that only one person on Earth ever truly understood. All in all, I am very pleased with the miniseries, and encourage other people to see it.

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Guest Duracien

I loved the miniseries a million times better than the movie and for the most part it was true to the book. I just wanted to say that the Harkonnen were absolutly brilliant compared to the movie. The movie portrayed them as... Things. Same goes for house Corrino as well as the fremen. These people are human and should not be portrayed as anything else. The movie had Harkonnen going around in an absolutely detestable environment doing disgusting things in thier free time. The fremen were completely mindless, thoughtless automatons. Oh - two complaints about the movie and the miniseries: The Arrakeen sky is RED, and the Baron does not fly dammit! One thing I admire about the miniseries was the bond that Gurney and Paul had. I've never had such an image of freindship and plain fun as when Paul and Gurney talked above the banquet. It was short lived but I felt quite a bit of compassion towards both of them. Granted Thufir and Duncan had almost invisible roles, but that can be expected as one can only fit so much material into a single space. I guess the single greatest thing about the miniseries was that it was completely believable. Characters doing things for reasons and everyone having a personality identical to the book. Yes, that is of course in comparison to the movie. :)

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Guest firecow

Ok, read the books, saw the original movie and now the miniseries last night (bought the VCD and watched with my girlfriend)... I have this to say...

...It was just way too long. There were so many portions of the show which were not necessary to the overall presentation of the miniseries. There just seemed to be countless, dragged out scenes one right after another. TEll you the truth, this miniseries seemed more like a tribute to fans of Dune than anythign else. I mean, sure in some respects it was more accurate than the original movie, but speaking from a directorial/editorial viewpoint, i would say that it could have been cut to a 2-3 hour miniseries instead of 4-6 hours. A LOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTT of wasted film just to show teh fans how accurate the miniseries can be.

Then there just was no atmosphere at all to this miniseries. There was no sense of drama, fear, foreboding, digust, loathing or anything. It seemed like the interest was more to "show" the viewer the book than actual storytelling and a creation of ambience. The sets were terribley cheesy and cheapskate. I've seen better CGI done by kids in schools. I'm not shitting you there.

Design-wise, the buildigns, costumes etc... were terrible as well. I have never in my life seen such bad design. If i taugh my students anythign liek that I'd most likely get thrown out of my job. The choppers also looked damn shite. seriously. We've played PC games with vehicle designs. Wont say more cos too much to say.

Just want to finish off by saying that on it's own, the original movie was far superior to the miniseries. It had atmosphere, ambience, mood, emotional weight, and that "deep space" feeling to it all.

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Guest Rene Smeitink

Well how shall i start...... i bought the DVD verion of the miniseries a couple of days ago and it's incredible... I first saw parts of it on TV and I think it was pretty good... but somehow... this DVD version is so much better.. The special effects and picture quality is so great... I just love it!!! though it's not a movie I had as much fun watching it as watching gladiator which i think is one of the best movies ever....

Costumes: How can anyone complain about the costumes!! I think they were pretty cool.. Harkonnen in red and black armor and stuff... Sardaukar purple to black and fremen in their own desert colour... I also like Irulan's dresses alot...

The acting was also pretty good in my opinion.

And when it comes to following the book..... i was quite pleased... it was way better than the movie...

So... Conclusion... love it, adore it, buy it... (DVD version if possible cuz it's really worth the money) :-)

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Guest Overrider

I think that it is quite obvious why any of us are yet to be completely pleased to any cinematic version of the incredible dune novel. The thing just don't get enough budget ! yes you can call it a TV mini-series. but most mini-serieses are really poorly done and budgeted relatively to what a script like Dune requires. So what I hope is that one day someone will understand that this is a story great enough to invest in and will show us the true magic of Dune through the screen.

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I've just paid the $30 bucks to get the "Special Edition - Director's Cut" version of the sci-fi miniseries. I'd already seen the miniseries in its original running time, so I thought I'd do some comparing and contrasting. Some of the transitioning is updated between the original mini & this "Special Edition - Director's Cut," which is welcome. The added 30 minutes of footage is a welcome plus.

I have in my possession now both the Director's Cut of the Harrison miniseries on DVD & the (pirated, I'm guessing by the look of the quality of some of the footage) 3+ hour Lynch movie.

I don't know... there's changes from the book made in each theatrical incarnation that would sort of leave it up to the individual viewer which one(s) they'd feel feels truest to the spirit of Frank's book.

If the sci-fi channel & Harrison are going to be adapting all of Frank's books... well, we're going to *have* to accept his interpretation of Dune. There's things I don't like about the miniseries, sure, but not enough to make me critique it too harshly.

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  • 2 years later...
Guest Matt Munro

I saw the miniseries about 3 years ago and frankly I feel like it totally raped the book and was a piece of shit. I have never screamed so much at my TV as a did when watching that travesty. I LOVE that freaking book and to see so much of it laid to waste on the screen was upsetting. SPICE IS THE COLOUR OF CINNAMON, NOT GREEN. I mean really, how could they possibly have screwed that up? Then there was the character of Paul, who in the book is wise, curious and noble and in the mini-series is all whingy like my ex-girlfriends and for some reason acts like a real pussy. And Irulan, Irulan is barely mentioned in the book at all, apart from at the very end, and in the mini-series she had a major role and seems to know whats going down. Finally, personally I thought Chani was meant to be hot, not really rough, beaten-around-with-the-ugly-stick looking like in the mini-series. Granted, the personal shield special effects were good, so much better than Lynches film, but thats about the only thing it had going for it in my opinion. Now, the Alan Smithee version of the David Lynch version, that is the closest i think they have come as far as a decent, close to the book version. Sure, that whole wierding module thing was crap, but the rest was pretty close. I'm sure that plenty of people will disagree with me, but hey, this is just my opinion, if you don't like it, sit down and read the book again and see what I mean. If you still disagree...What the fuck do i care? I don't know you!

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  • 1 year later...
Guest Chani2000

I actually like the miniseries, though I saw it only once, before having read the book. I understood almost nothing, so I think that noone should watch it without reading the novel. But the miniseries is fine. Of course, some things do not match: like Paul should be around 16 in the beginning & should have black hair. But movies really rarely match original texts. I think the miniseries has both good & bad sides. Personally I hate Kyle McLachlen (Paul in Lynch's film), so I'm pretty okay with the miniseries cast.

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