Dune (2-Disc Limited Edition) [4K Ultra HD]
(Kyle MacLachlan, Sting, José Ferrer, Jurgen Prochnow, Brad Dourif, et al / 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1984) 2021 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)
Overview: Following a notorious aborted attempt by Alejandro Jodorowsky in the 1970s, Frank Herbert’s bestselling sci-fi epic Dune finally made it to the big screen as the third film by emerging surrealist wunderkind David Lynch, featuring an all-star cast that includes several of Lynch’s regular collaborators.
The year is 10,191, and four planets are embroiled in a secret plot to wrest control of the Spice Melange, the most precious substance in the universe and found only on the planet Arrakis.
A feud between two powerful dynasties, House Atreides and House Harkonnen, is manipulated from afar by ruling powers that conspire to keep their grip on the spice. As the two families clash on Arrakis, Duke Atreides’ son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan, in his screen debut) finds himself at the center of an intergalactic war and an ancient prophecy that could change the galaxy forever.
Though its initial reception ensured that Lynch largely eschewed mainstream filmmaking for the rest of his career, Dune has since been rightly re-evaluated as one of the most startlingly original and visionary science fiction films of the 1980s.
Its astonishing production design and visual effects can now be appreciated anew in this spellbinding 4K restoration, accompanied by hours of comprehensive bonus features.
Blu-ray Verdict: To be quite honest, Lynch’s Dune is a genuinely complex film to review, not because of the Dune story, but as to why there is such a dramatic gap between moments of incredible excellence and equally clear failures.
I think from the outset Dune was put forward with the misguided expectation that because it takes place in space it should be a blockbuster, which then means it should have a certain framework reminiscent of Lucas or Spielberg as the ideal hit makers of the time.
Creatively speaking, this type of thinking should never have entered this movie. Lynch himself seems to have tried to conform to a semblance of a Hollywood blockbuster, and then topping things off with his creative touches, but the result is that the movie is a conflict of creative interests.
The most effective and evocative scenes in this movie are when its interests are not trying to spoon feed you information. Dune as a watching experience, should probably be left vague, and probably without narrative explanation altogether.
As a film, I think Dune needs to be allowed to not have to explain itself, and explanations should probably be sparse or even cryptic, because tonally Dune is a mysterious book, and though it has moments of world building and info (being a book), it is more the positions, loyalties and character traits and dynamics in the face of epic transitions of power and history that evoke the most significance.
There are many scenes and moments in Lynch’s Dune that achieve some unique atmosphere, and with superb acting. Jurgen Prochnow, Francesca Annis, and Kenneth McMillan played the most competent and interesting roles for me. Kyle MacLachlan does a wonderful job, but he is slightly too old for the role.
Consider the scene where Duke Leto and Paul are talking under the moon of the night sky of Caladan. Powerful scene, but the prophetic impact would have felt so much more significant and intensely weighted if McLachlan had instead been a more appropriately aged actor for the role, such as maybe River Phoenix.
But age discrepancies aside, Kyle’s acting is appropriately fitted to the character, just not his slightly too adult appearance by this time.
I don’t want to go too far into Dune’s failings, but the opening narrative trying to establish an immediate context for a very complex and highly advanced foreign universe is never a good way to introduce a movie: Show, don’t tell, which is actually what Lynch is best at.
So this results in a movie that too often tries to serve requirements that detract from the portions that are exceptional in tonal flavor and vision.
The settings used for the worlds of Dune and the home planets of the Atreides and Harkonnen are all different and cleverly designed. Atreides family lives in a planet with roaming oceans while the Harkonnen live in a green industrial hell, suitable for their almost camp like insanity.
The Dune itself is a hot, desolate planet filled with sand, fremen and gargantuan worms. The special effects work reasonably well when placed against the modern special effects. They are aged now, of course, but not to the point of laughable. Time has been rather kind. Especially the sand worms are very well made.
However, and in conclusion, if you’re looking for something unusual while still remaining watchable then Dune is a total recommend, but lower your expectations because it’s really bonkers, whilst at the same time being fantastically creative and unique! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative
60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Andrew Nette, Christian McCrea and Charlie Brigden, an interview with sound designer Alan Splet from 1984, excerpts from an interview with the director and a Dune Terminology glossary
Large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dániel Taylor
Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dániel Taylor
DISC 1: FEATURE & EXTRAS (4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY)
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
Original uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand new commentary by film historian Paul M. Sammon
Brand new commentary by Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast
Impressions of Dune, a 2003 documentary on the making of the film
Designing Dune, a 2005 featurette on the work of production designer Anthony Masters
Dune FX, a 2005 featurette on the film’s effects
Dune Models & Miniatures, a 2005 featurette on the film’s model effects
Dune Costumes, a 2005 featurette on the film’s costume designs
11 deleted scenes, with a 2005 introduction by Raffaella de Laurentiis
Destination Dune, a 1983 featurette
Theatrical trailers and TV spots
DISC 2: BONUS DISC (BLU-RAY)
Beyond Imagination: Merchandising Dune, a brand new featurette on the film’s promotional merchandise
Prophecy Fulfilled: Scoring Dune, a brand new featurette on the film’s music score, with interviews with members of Toto and film music historian Tim Greiving
Brand new interview with make-up effects artist Giannetto de Rossi
Archive interview with production coordinator Golda Offenheim
Archive interview with star Paul Smith
Archive interview with make-up effects artist Christopher Tucker