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SciFi Frank Herberts Dune
The SciFi "Frank Herbert's Dune" miniseries came out 16 years after the David Lynch movie version. Lynch's movie was just over 2 hours long, and many fans disliked because of the scenes it cut out. I think that after watching a miniseries that went for a full SIX HOURS that still cut out key scenes and had to merge characters together, there has been much more appreciation for what Lynch was able to accomplish.
First, one of my key gripes with the SciFi miniseries. It constantly touted itself as being "Frank Herbert's Dune". Not just "Dune" or "based on Dune". And yet many of the characters, scenes and plots are FAR removed from the actual storyline. There are many invented scenes, many characters who have been severely altered. I think the miniseries is fine AS A STAND ALONE STORY. But as a faithful, accurate representation of the storyline, it has many failings.
One of my key disappointments is with the character of Paul. As much as you can complain about Lynch and his doings (and I do have my complaints there too), you have to agree that Paul is extremely well done. His character is right in line with the book, and as Paul is the CENTRAL character, that's rather important. Paul is NOT a whiny, spoiled brat in the beginning of the book. He is mature, intelligent, and able to stand up to the Reverend Mother. I can see that SciFi wanted to show Paul's "maturation" but they didn't need to demolish his character in order to do it. I cringe every time I watch the first half of the SciFi miniseries, and what they did to Paul and some of the other characters.
The sets and costumes are sometimes pretty, sometimes ugly. You can argue either way, you can argue that asthetics don't really matter. But again, they were made from a "Star Wars" point of view and NOT from a Dune point of view. There were wide open windows on Arrakis!! This would never have been permitted. The stillsuits were a complete joke. The overriding, overwhelming concern of everyone on that planet was water conservation. Stillsuits were meant to keep you from dying. In the miniseries it seemed like you were at a beach and sure, you might get thirsty, but so what. In the book the lack of water and its constant conservation was a KEY element, it was in fact pretty much a character just as important as Paul or Jessica.
I can see why the miniseries would appeal to people who didn't know about the books. It's like Star Wars - a great, engaging tale with interesting characters. And again, if it had been billed as "an adaptation" I would have taken it in that sense and enjoyed it. But it is NOT true to the books, and those of us who find great meaning in the books can see that meaning being twisted or lost in this adaptation. If nothing else, the SciFi release has renewed an interest in the books of Dune and its ecology and messages. I would recommend that anyone who finds the concept of Dune even slightly interesting to definitely READ THE BOOK and then watch the miniseries with that background in mind.
I watched the directors' cut recently and here are more details on my thoughts and criticisms:
CD1 - Caladan through Leto's Death
Buy the Lynch Dune Movie
Buy Dune - the book - from Amazon.com
The World of Dune