THE GREAT LIBRARY AT ARRAKIS

Last update 29 June 2001

Filmbook (DVD) Section

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Selected Filmbooks from God Emperor Leto II's Library at Dar-es-Balat

All these filmbooks are in the form of an ancient storage technology called DVD (also known as Digital Video Disk or Digital Versatile Disk). DVD was a popular storage medium on ancient Earth in the 20th and 21st Centuries before the discovery of ridulan crystal technology. All the DVDs in the Library's collection are Region 1.
Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE)
Region coding was used on earth in a silly and futile attempt to limit the use of DVDs to certain geo-political regions before planetary governments became normal. Most modern DVD players are able to circumvent this restriction. However, a later development called Regional Coding Enhancement or RCE may cause problems with some DVD players modified for multi-region. The earliest known DVDs with RCE have been discovered, "Patriot" by Columbia TriStar and "The Perfect Storm" by Warner Home Video. One possible solution is to set the player to region 1 if possible. It is unfortunate that DVD producers of ancient earth chose to pursue this course of action which will limit access to these filmbooks.
More Information about RCE

DVDs in the the Great Library's collection

[Note: Selecting any title will transport you to www.amazon.com, purveyors of fine DVD filmbooks.]
[There you may research the title for more information and reviews and make a purchase if desired]



Each filmbook is rated out of 6 stars based on the subjective opinion of the Librarian ! Since selections for the collection are made by the Librarian, it is therefore obvious that almost all the filmbooks have high ratings. Unrated filmbooks mean that the librarian has not viewed the DVD version in its entirety.
A ****** (Six star) rating means the librarian is of the opinion that the filmbook is a extremely valueable work and is a "must have" in a collection because of its outstanding value or if the collector has a particular special interest in the content or if it has significant added value content.

The pride of the Great Library's collection is of course the filmbook of the events on Arrakis leading to the ascension of Emperor Paul Muad'Dib Atreides to the throne of the known Universe.

Dune - Screenplay and directed by David Lynch

Dune (1984) ******
This is the the much maligned 1984 David Lynch directed version with Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides. Many fans were bitterly disappointed with the movie. However, any translation of a story from one media to another is likely to lose something in the translation. Everyone forms a unique image in their own minds of events, people, actions and objects when they read a book, no two people are ever going to see everything the same way .... so David Lynch's vision differed from everyone else's and whoever had a vision close to David's will probably like the movie and may dislike it otherwise. There is also evidence to suggest that Frank Herbert himself liked many aspects of the movie and I remember a transcript of an interview in which he said that he couldn't have come up with a better screenplay himself (given the time limitations of the format). I had seen the trailer which inspired me to buy and read the book before I saw the movie and I think this made all the difference. I still had to watch the movie more than once and I'm very happy to have the DVD version.
Look at it another way. It took me more than 2 weeks to finish Dune the first time I read it, the book itself covers a time period of at least 4-5 years (I can't remember any references to allow me to date this exactly). I'm reading it for the 3rd time since I bought another hardcover copy (with the John Schoenherr illustrations). An epic story compressed into a 137 minute movie is not going to work well at best (Lynch originally intended a 3 hour plus movie but the studios interfered). I'm still (re-)discovering things I've missed (and forgotten) in my previous two reading's of Dune. (there is evidence that there were 5 hours of footage from which a 190 minute mini-series which was made without David Lynch's approval and credited to Alan Smithee.)
There is no way Dune can be compressed into a movie successfully (A mini series is a much better format). The movie therefore cannot be compared to the book.
Taken on its own, things look a bit better. The opening monologue by "Princess Irulan" (Played by Virginia Madsen) was a clever device at introducing the story as did the initial scenes with the homeworlds of the main players and Paul's study of the filmbook of Arrakis. It did not however, make any attempt at explaining what being the Kwisatz Haderach really meant (the movie mentioned a super-being which probably confused the heck out of most people). Not covered at all well was Paul's prescient visions and the choices he made in his course of action due to these visions. No mention was made of his "terrible purpose" and his visions of a Jihad under the Atreides banner raging throughout the Universe in the future. Paul's prescience is one of the key themes of the Dune Chronicles, where his actions would determine the future of mankind (this is fine in the single movie context but destroys much of the depth of the story).
One of the worst aspects of the movie was the modification of the Bene Gesserit Weirding Way into a sonic weapon called Weirding modules (stangely enough the first two Dune licenced computer games, Dune and Dune II Battle for Arrakis used the same Weirding module/sonic weapon idea as the primary Atreides weapon). This totally ignored the aspects of the book which put fierce loyalty, superb leadership and advanced training as primary reason for the quality Atreides military. Similarly the Fremen military supremacy being due to the harsh conditions of Arrakis was ignored. In the movie the Fremen needed training with the "weirding modules" to become a powerful military force. My guess was that this device was needed to give the uninitiated movie audience some tangible reason for the Atreides and Fremen military strength.
Another frequently attacked aspect of the movie was the whispered voice overs at various points which represented the thoughts of the character. To me this was another novel device to handle unspoken thoughts (I can't think of any better way although I can think of worse ones - thought balloons anyone ? :).
Another one of the more confusing aspects to many people were the Paul's dream sequences (water drops, conversation with Chani) which only readers of the book would understand.

Here is a summary of my thoughts on the movie:
Casting: perfect, I wouldn't change a thing, everyone matched the way I had imagined them to be.
Length: way too short. I want David Lynch to make use of that footage and make *HIS* mini-series.
Pacing: way too fast, obviously.
Costumes: perfect, I particularly like the stillsuit designs, very nice.
Scenes/Sets: perfect, again very close to what I had imagined Arrakis and the sandworms to be.
Storyline: Roughly following the book with severe abbreviation, such as, how Paul and Jessica escaped from the Harkonnens. In the book they escape by killing the two Harkonnen troops charged with leaving them in the desert, while on the ground. They meet Duncan Idaho and with his help, met Liet Kynes (at an Imperial Planetology station). It is during this meeting with Liet that Sardaukar attack and they have to flee again into a sand storm and crash land. The movie eliminates Duncan's role (he dies in the initial attack on Arrakeen instead of at the Imperial Planetology station) and the meeting with Liet. They crash land because the orni sustains damage during a fight while in-flight.
Another *MAJOR* deviation which I really didn't like at all was the silly "rain on Arrakis" scene at the end.
Overall: for me, this DVD version is a "must-have" although a longer "Director's Cut" would be perfect. If you haven't read the book, read it first otherwise you will find the movie difficult to follow but the danger is that after reading the book you may be disappointed with the movie.
Details of alternate versions of Dune based on the 5 hours of footage shot by David Lynch are here at IMDB

The Cast of David Lynch's Dune

Kyle MacLachlan - Paul Atreides (Muad'Dib)
Sean Young - Chani
Francesca Annis - Lady Jessica
José Ferrer - Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Kenneth McMillan - Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Linda Hunt - Shadout Mapes
Sting - Feyd Rautha Harkonnen
Freddie Jones - Thufir Hawat
Brad Dourif - Piter De Vries
Richard Jordan - Duncan Idaho
Patrick Stewart - Gurney Halleck
Virginia Madsen - Princess Irulan
Silvana Mangano - Reverend Mother Ramallo
Everett McGill - Stilgar
Jack Nance - Nefud
Siân Phillips - Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jürgen Prochnow - Duke Leto Atreides
Paul Smith - Rabban Harkonnen (The Beast)
Dean Stockwell - Doctor Wellington Yueh
Max von Sydow - Doctor Liet Kynes
Alicia Witt - Alia

Frank Herbert's Dune - Sci-Fi Channel Mini Series screenplay and directed by John Harrison

The latest effort at bringing "Dune" to life on screen by director John Harrison, a 265 minute mini-series, was exclusively aired on The Sci-Fi Channel, it was released on DVD in March 2001. As a "Dune" fan, this is a "must-have".
Frank Herbert's Dune (2000)
My copy from Amazon arrived and I have watched all three episodes twice. I have also re-read Dune for the third time and many things are fresh in my head.
The DVD itself doesn't look like widescreen even though the box claims to the 1.77:1 aspect ratio and it is not anamorphic and sound is Dolby 2.0 Surround. These are major disappointments to DVD fans. There is mention that a special edition may be released in the future with additional footage, anamorphic video and Dolby Digital 5.1. A ploy to make fans buy it twice ?
At this point, I have watched it twice and I enjoyed it both times. Harrison's effort is an very good visualisation of Dune although I have some gripes.

DVD Version compared to Broadcast Version. Update - 29 June 2001

I recently watched part of Harrison's Dune on satellite TV and noticed scenes which were not on the DVD. Some of the additions were minor but these should have been on the DVD, there is no reason why the DVD version should be shorter than the broadcast version. I only saw part of Episode 2 and noticed the missing scenes, which doesn't bode well for the DVD ! I've watched the DVD twice and I'm pretty darned sure these scenes are missing:

The scene where Count Fenring is talking to Shaddam IV about Irulan's "meddling" is much longer.

When Irulan is visiting Giedi Prime during Feyd's birthday celebrations, Fenring and the Baron leave her at the Gladiatorial ring to discuss issues (in the book Fenring and the Baron do discuss issues during Fenring's visit on Feyd's birthday, but Irulan was not there it was Lady Margot Fenring instead. Also the entire story about Feyd's manipulation of the fight with the gladiator was removed from the screenplay.).

The scene at Sietch Tabr where Chani and Jessica are discussing something (I forget) is longer.

Harrison seems to agree with David Lynch that an opening monologue to introduce the story is a good idea since that is what he uses in a more direct language. Harrison in general has also kept the screenplay more faithful to the book.
He has however change few things in the story and the ones that I have noticed are:
MAJOR deviations
One of the attendees of Duke Leto's social gathering at Arrakeen Palace is none other than Princess Irulan Corrino along with an escort of Sardaukar. There is an interaction with Paul which hints at a possible romance. This reminds me of the role expansion for the Arwen character in the coming "Lord of the Rings" production. As with the Arwen role expansion, I am not happy with this, why was this done ? Another addition the the role of Irulan was her visit to Giedi Prime to fraternise with Feyd whilst gathering information (in the book it was Count Fenring and Lady Margot Fenring who went to observe Feyd).
The wet world conservatory in Arrakeen Palace was not hidden away behind an airlock with a controlled atmosphere but seems to be a normal part of the Palace where Jessica and Mapes walk in together during a tour. More importantly the part where Jessica finds a coded message warning of a traitor (left by Lady Margot Fenring) has been eliminated.
Like the silly rain on Arrakis in Lynch's version, there is an unnecessary and silly water-out-of-nowhere event which looks rather more silly than the Lynch rain. It looks like Paul is relieving himself (even the look on his face!) and invited hysterical laughter from my viewing audience ... not good for a major turning point in the story.

Minor deviations
Various dialogues have been changed around and transferred to different characters.
Jessica instead of Leto changes the custom of selling waste water to the poor.
When Duncan Idaho brings Stilgar to meet with Duke Leto, Stilgar spits on his table. Instead of Duncan, with his deeper understanding of Fremen ways, defusing the apparent affront to Leto, it is Paul instead that says "Thank you for the gift of your body's water".
The deadly politicking between various dinner guests at Leto's party was toned down significantly. The Guild representative's role as a Harkonnen agent was eliminated.
The maid was in Paul's bedroom when the hunter-seeker appeared but it was the Shadout Mapes entering the room which attracted the device. Later it was shown that it was Rabban's independent plot without the Baron's knowledge.
The Fremen show very lax water discipline with many people without stillsuits in scenes outside sietchs.

I didn't quite like some of the costumes. Emperor Shaddam IV in particular seems to be dressed for some strange fashion show. Shaddam IV is almost always seen dressed in a Sardaukar dress uniform as a constant reminder of the source of his power. Worse was Hasimir Fenring's costume which I won't even begin to describe.

Character Deviations
Paul Atreides
Paul seems less mature, like a spoiled brat, prone to outbursts of emotion, sarcasm and general out-of-character behaviour. He seems to pay a lot of attention to one particular Fremen palace maid which fortunately doesn't develop any further. However, Paul's character improves significantly as the series develops.
Thufir Hawat
Hawat's role as head of security and Master of Assassins for the Atreides seems rather muted, and it isn't clear what he actually does even after Paul's encounter with the hunter-killer.
Piter de Vries
Piter here seems less venomous and his verbal sparring with the Baron has been eliminated. Like Hawat, Piter's role seems to have been toned down.

Overall Harrison's Mini Series is a good adaptation of Dune and well worth the cost of the DVD even though I loathe the "sell it to them twice" tactics. Apparently the screenplay for the sequel "Dune Messiah" is being written by Harrison, I look forward to seeing that on screen soon.

The Cast of John Harrison's Dune

William Hurt - Duke Leto Atreides
Alec Newman - Paul Atreides/Muad'Dib
Saskia Reeves - Lady Jessica Atreides
James Watson (IV) - Duncan Idaho
Jan Vlasák - Thufir Hawat
P.H. Moriarty - Gurney Halleck
Robert Russell (II) - Dr. Wellington Yueh
Laura Burton (III) - St. Alia Atreides
Ian McNeice - Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Matt Keeslar - Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen
László I. Kish - Rabban
Jan Unger - Piter De Vries
Giancarlo Giannini - Padishah-Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV
Julie Cox - Princess Irulan Corrino
Miroslav Táborský - Count Hashimir Fenring
Barbora Kodetova - Chani
Karel Dobry - Liet Kynes
Zuzana Geislerová - Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Laszlo Iosh - Rabban Harkonnen
Uwe Ochsenknecht - Stilgar
Jaroslava Sentancova - Shadout Mapes

Lynch versus Harrison

Having these two version begs a comparison. First off I want to say BOTH are worth owning on DVD.
Lynch's version makes some very serious modifications to the story, which is the reason why many Dune fans hated it. However, Lynch's Dune comes closest to what I had imagined, in terms of "look and feel" of the Dune universe including costumes, spice mining and the giant sand worms. I also particularly liked the cast and they way they portrayed the characters of Dune. This is the one to see for the elusive "you are there" feel.
Harrisons version is much more faithful to the story but doesn't quite capture the "you are there" feel, with almost all scenes done on a soundstage rather than on location, understandable given their much limited budget (something like US$21 Million).
This is the one to see to get the overall storyline (without reading the book) and to see the visualisation of many event's such as the drowning of a baby maker to make the Water of Life, Jessica's Water of Life ceremony to become a Reverend Mother and a pretty good visualisation of the Wierding Way of combat.
In summary:
Lynch : Faithfulness to the book : 5/10 : Look and Feel : 10/10
Harrison : Faithfulness to the book : 8.5/10 : Look and Feel : 6/10

Comparing the cast

None of these comparisons reflect positively or negatively on the various actors, there are just my opionions on who matched my own view of each character which is subjectively based on look, dress, speech and screenplay.
Paul Atreides, Muad'Dib - Kyle MacLachlan has my vote although Alec Newman gets much better towards the end.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen - Kenneth McMillan makes a much more menacing Baron but Ian McNeice is close.
Lady Jessica Atreides - I have to go with Francesca Annis but Saskia Reeves comes very close.
Chani - Sean Young didn't have much of a role so Barbora Kodetova gets my vote.
Stilgar - Everett McGill certainly looked the part but Uwe Ochsenknecht gets my vote.
Piter De Vries - Brad Dourif wins hands down, Jan Unger didn't come close to being a convincing Piter.
Thufir Hawat - Freddie Jones was much better than the wishy-washy Hawat by Jan Vlasák.
Dr. Wellington Yueh - Dean Stockwell gets my vote, Robert Russell didn't really make an impact.
Duke Leto Atreides - although William Hurt got a much better role, I still like Jürgen Prochnow's Duke.
Princess Irulan Corrino - ignoring Julie Cox's expanded role, Virginia Madsen looked more the part.
Dr Liet Kynes - Liet being half Fremen, Karel Dobry looked more the part compared to Max von Sydow.
Feyd Rautha Harkonnen - my vote goes to Sting for the more menacing portrayal of Feyd, Matt Keeslar's costumes didn't help.
Rabban Harkonnen - László I. Kish wins, though while Paul Smith looked the part he didn't do much.
Padishah-Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV - José Ferrer gets my vote, Giancarlo Giannini wasn't convincing (maybe it was his costumes).
Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam - Sian Phillips definitely, Zuzana Geislerová and her costumes were not convincing as the powerful Reverend Mother.
Alia Atreides - Laura Burton and Alicia Witt both look the part, this one is a tie.
Duncan Idaho - Richard Jordan definitely, James Watson doesn't look like Duncan in my mind.
Gurney Halleck - Patrick Stewart gets my vote although P.H. Moriarty is close.

Science Fiction / Fantasy

Blade Runner - The Director's Cut (1982) ******
One of my favourite movies. Base on the novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick and directed by Ridley Scott. Mankind (specifically Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkell) or Tyrell Corporation) has manufactured genetically tailor-made humanoids with limited lifespans, called Replicants, to perform various tedious and dangerous tasks. Due to violent uprisings by replicants, they have been restricted to employment off planet. Some replicants led by Roy Batty (Played by Rutger Hauer) have managed to land on Earth and former Blade Runner (police replicant hunter) Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) is coerced into hunting them down.
The Los Angeles of the future is a dark, dank, dirty, polluted, constantly raining place (I can't remember a single scene with real sunlight) but it is perfectly believable. The movie starts off like a "hunt down and kill all the bad guys" formula but starts to raise many questions once we find out what these replicants really want and begin to see their humanity. The Director's Cut details are here. Science Fiction fans, this is a "must-have".

The Fifth Element (1997) ******
Contact (1997) ****
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ****
2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) ****
Brazil (1985) ******
Stargate (1994) ****
Gattaca (1997) ****
The Abyss : Special Edition (1989) ******
The Matrix (1999) ******
Armageddon -- Criterion Collection (1998) ******
The Devil's Advocate (1997) - original unedited version ******
Galaxy Quest (1999) *****
Independence Day: Special Edition
Men in Black - Collector's Series (1997)
X-Men (2000)
Waterworld (1997) ****
Highlander - 10th Anniversary Director's Cut (1986) *****
Jurassic Park - Widescreen Collector's Edition (1993) *****
Judge Dredd (1995) *****
Demolition Man (1993) *****

Terminator

The Terminator (1984) ******
Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (1991) ******
Terminator 2: Judgment Day - The Ultimate DVD Edition (1991) ******

Star Trek

Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan (1982) ******
Star Trek III : The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home (1989) ******
Star Trek V : The Final Frontier (1989) ***
Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country (1991) ******
Star Trek : Generations (1994) ****
Star Trek : First Contact (1996) ******
Star Trek : Insurrection (1998) *****

Mad Max

The Road Warrior (1982) ****
Mad Max (1980) ****
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) ****

Alien

The Alien Legacy 4 pack ****** which includes --
Alien 20th Anniversary Edition (1979) ******,
Aliens Special Edition + 17mins extra footage (1986) ******,
Alien 3 (1992) *****,
Alien Resurrection (1997) ****


Fantasy

Conan the Barbarian Collector's Edition (1982) ******
Conan the Barbarian (1982) *****
Conan the Destroyer (1984) ****
The Mummy - Widescreen Collector's Edition (1999) *****
Sleepy Hollow (1999) *****

Humour

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) ******
Mr. Bean - V. 8: Best Bits of Bean (1998) *****
Galaxy Quest (1999) *****
American Pie - unrated version (1999) ****

The Pink Panther

The Pink Panther (1963) ****
A Shot in the Dark (1964) *****
The Pink Panther Strikes Again *****(1976)
Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) *****

Military / War / Conflict

Modern

The Hunt for Red October (1990) ******
Crimson Tide (1995) ******
Top Gun (1986) *****
Platoon (1986)

World War 2

Das Boot - The Director's Cut (1982) ******
Memphis Belle (1990) *****
The Great Escape (1963) *****
Midway (1976) *****
Bridge Too Far (1977) ******
Roaring Glory Warbirds - V. 3 - Vought Corsair F4U (1998) *****
Saving Private Ryan Special Limited Edition DVD (1999) ******
The Guns of Navarone (Special Edition) (1961) *****
The Story of G.I. Joe (1945)
U-571 - Collector's Edition (2000) ******
The Longest Day (1962) *****
The Tuskegee Airmen (1995)

Fiction based on Historical Events

Gladiator (2000) ******
Patriot (2000) (Warning: RCE)

Dramatisation of Real Life / Historical Events

Braveheart (1995)
Glory : Special Edition (1989)
The Messenger : The Story of Joan of Arc (1999) *****
Apollo 13 (1995) *****
The Killing Fields (1984)

Westerns

Unforgiven (1992) ****
Red Sun (1971) ****

Drama

Last Tango in Paris (1973)
Boogie Nights (1997)
American Beauty Awards Edition (1999) *****
Holy Smoke (1999) *
Frequency (2000)
The Perfect Storm (2000)

Crime / Law Enforcement / Espionage

In The Line of Fire - Special Edition (1993) *****
The Untouchables (1987) *****
Reservoir Dogs (1992) ***
Ronin (1998) ****
The Rock (1996) ******
Bad Boys (1995) ****
Absolute Power (1997) ****
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) ****
L.A. Confidential (1997) ******
Heat (1995) ******
Enemy of the State (1998) *****
The Art of War (2000) *****
The Negotiator (1998) *****

Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon (1987) *****
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) *****
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) *****
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) *****

James Bond

Tomorrow Never Dies : Special Edition (1997) *****
The World Is Not Enough : Special Edition (1999) *****

Martial Arts

Enter the Dragon (1973) ****
Rumble in the Bronx (1996) ****

Musical / Concerts

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
Lord of the Dance (1996)
Riverdance - Live From New York City (1997)
The Three Tenors in Concert 1994 (1994) ****

Romance

You've Got Mail (1998) ****

Animated

Antz (1998) *****
A Bug's Life (1998) *****
Mulan (1998) *****
Tarzan - Collector's Edition (1999) *****
Titan A.E. (2000) *****
Beyond the Mind's Eye *****
Dinosaur : Collector's Edition (2000)

DVDs recently acquired by the the Great Library and is pre-ordered or in shipment.

Frank Herbert's Dune (2000)
Space Cowboys (2000)
Red Planet (2000)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)

DVDs the Great Library's would love to have in its collection but cannot afford

Black Adder - The Complete Collection
Stargate SG-1 Giftset (1997)
The Man With No Name Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) (1999)

DVDs being considered for the Great Library's collection

The Library's funds for new acquisitions is quite limited and great care must be taken to ensure that additions to the collection will complement it.
Pitch Black - unrated version (2000)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
Titanic (1997)
The Return of the Pink Panther (1974)
The Piano (1993)
Soldier (1998)
Pink Panther Cartoon Collection, The - Jet Pink
The Matrix: Limited Edition Collector's Set (1999)


Please report any errors and problems to the Librarian. Thank you !

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This page was created on Wednesday, November 9, 1998 and last updated on June 29, 2001