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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".