on March 30, 2003
Frank Herbert's books "Dune Messiah" and "Children of Dune", on which this miniseries is based, must have been very difficult books to adapt. Many plotlines intertwine in the novels, and Herbert's oblique narration often makes the stories seem even more opaque than they already are.
That's why I'm impressed with this Sci-Fi Channel adaptation. It captures most of the essential plot points of the two novels, and drops only those points that can afford to be dropped (with just one exception, which I'll get to). Also -- and here I really must take my hat off to the producers -- it beautifully captures the FEEL of the two novels, both the brooding claustrophobia and sense of impending doom of "Dune Messiah", and the "family tragedy" aspect of "Children of Dune".
Given the time constraints of a miniseries, smart choices are made throughout about how to simplify and clarify the story. The emotional cores of characters are clearly delineated: Alia is fundamentally looking for love and not getting it, Leto and Ghanima are twins with a special bond (one way this is conveyed is by having them occasionally finish each others' sentences), Farad'n is a young man trying to assert his identity against a domineering mother, and so forth. Plot elements are compressed in ways that only make the drama more effective, the best example being the conclusion of the "Dune Messiah" episode, in which four distinct scenes in the novel (Chani's death, Duncan's retrieval of his memories, the death of Bijaz, and the death of Scytale) are compressed into one riveting confrontation.
The acting in that one scene is wonderful. Which is another strength of the miniseries: a great cast. Alice Krige is an excellent Jessica, and James McAvoy is simply superb as Leto -- he conveys a convincing sense of knowingness and control, yet without losing his basic youthfulness and without seeming distanced and "weird". (Interestingly, Susan Sarandon, like William Hurt in the first miniseries, doesn't seem to fit -- like Hurt, she feels off-tone and awkward. Maybe the science fiction genre just works better with lesser-known actors -- with celebrities, you just "know" they aren't "really" these imaginary fantasy characters.)
My only quibble with the miniseries is that each of the novels "Dune Messiah" and "Children of Dune" pivot around a simple science-fictional premise which is obscured in the adaptation. The SF premise in "Messiah" is that Paul's ability to see into the future has become so powerful that he literally loses his free will -- he tries so hard to control events by predicting them that he becomes his own puppet, as it were. (This dilemma is paralleled in "Children of Dune" by Alia's increasingly desperate attempts to see into the future, which eventually lead to her possession by the Baron -- that is, to her going insane. It's important to remember that all of the "Dune" books are sci-fi riffs on the idea of power and control.)
The SF premise in "Children of Dune" is that Leto must counteract this excessive control by assuming even greater control for a long period of time -- time he buys by entering into a symbiotic relationship with the "sandtrout" of Arrakis, which will, over time, transform him into a sandworm. But the whole sandtrout-sandworm cycle isn't explained in the series, nor the nature of Leto's new symbiotic life, nor, really, his motivation for doing it. I recognize there are time constraints in producing a miniseries -- but a few lines of expository dialogue plus some visual reinforcement would have done the trick. As it is, some of the "opacity" of the two novels, which could have been lessened by clearly explaining the core SF premises (predicting the future, symbiotic life), is unfortunately retained in the miniseries.
But that's my only major quibble. I could go into more detail on other things that are carried off beautifully in the miniseries, but I, too, am writing under constraints -- space constraints! Suffice to say that this is an smart, heartfelt, moody, and faithful adaptation of some intriguing and difficult books. Between this miniseries, the "Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the BBC "Gormenghast" adaptation, it might be that we're entering a new period of strong, insightful, and FAITHFUL adaptations of science fiction and fantasy classics. I certainly hope so.
on June 27, 2010
I am a Dune fan/freak. I have even recorded several of the books for the blind. Frank Herbert is my favorite author and God Emperor is my favorite of the series. However, when the new hard cover of Children of Dune came out recently, I read it and realized I had forgotten the depth and wealth contained therein. A gift of Amazon.com allowed me to chance upon the TV miniseries and I went for it greedily. I got what I expected. A sincere attempt to capture the essence of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune that has the same limitations of the two original Dune movies. The books cannot be represented well on TV. The dialogue, frequently used to convey the story, was stilted, limited, even mechanical at times. The story is too grand, the written characters too well defined, the language too precise, too elegant, to be conveyed in summarization attempts in dialogue. Having said that, the movie (as was said by Frank Herbert of the original Dune movie) is the best that could be done at the time even with the compromises necessary to meet budget and time constraints. I am glad I got it, I will watch it again to register the specifics more attentively. I didn't dislike the movie, just wished for a more fulfilling experience.
on June 8, 2003
I coudn't wait to buy this DVD after watching the miniseries over and over again on Sci-fi. Luckily for me and other ravenous fans, the DVD was released quickly. The story remains segmented as it was featured on Sci-fi, which makes sense considering the score and other dramatic effects that introduce each new part.
I was bitterly disappointed by the lack of special features on the DVD. Not only is there limited scene selection (only the first four scenes from each part are available--something I've never seen before), but there is no commentary or cast interviews. There is a short documentary film about the special effects of this movie, but it looks rushed and tacked on.
Overall the quality of the picture on this DVD is superb. There are a couple scenes where the dialogue is off from the picture by a few seconds, but it lasts only long enough to become noticeable.
Since the Sci-fi Children of Dune official website provided such wonderful background information, including written and audio cast interviews, I don't understand why these supplemental pieces didn't make it onto the DVD. Perhaps the production company plans to make a
on May 21, 2003
I remember reading Dune Messiah and Children of Dune and being disappointed in how Herbert ended the series. No longer. It may be a function of this Children of Dune actually being better than the first in the series (Dune) but this DVD is really wonderful. The expression of Arrakis as a pseudo middle eastern culture and the characters of Alia and the twins are really nicely written and nicely acted. The soundtrack is so good I actually bought it. Even non-sci fi types would enjoy this.
Of course it isn't perfect... for instance, if the filmmakers could do such a great job with the worms, how come those fako panthers are so awful? And Susan Sarandon was extremely terrible in her strange role.
But gotta note that the hats / headgear / costumes were great. Someone had a really good time with wardrobe and their enthusiasm shows.
on September 26, 2014
I know the style isn't everyone's favorite, and it's not absolutely true-to-book, but it's a great adaptation of the second two books of the Dune series. Though I'm a fan of the movie, the simple fact is that the star in this whole thing is Brian Tyler's soundtrack. Written before many of his most well-known movie soundtracks, his soundtrack for Children of Dune is simply amazing.
If you need a reason to watch this, and don't think you'll like the way the story is told, do it anyway. The soundtrack is worth it.
on April 7, 2003
As a fan of the Dune Series, I was truly astonished at how
incredibly well this miniseries represented Herbert's books.
I was prepared to enjoy it no matter what, but the quality of
the acting/production/costumes/storyline(s)was truly beyond my
Alice Krige truly was the brightest star in the universe of
Dune. She does not have to utter or word or lift an eybrow to
speak volumes and convey endless emotions. Not surprising,
considering her past acting (most notably "Ghost"), and the Borg
Queen. I believe she has always been Hollywoods most well kept
secret. She never seems to age; such an etheral beauty. Delightful!
By no means does this diminish the other cast members of Dune.
All so well cast. Alia's madness evolves in her incredible eyes;
Leto Atreides seems made for the part. Susan Sarandan seemd to
enjoy her role enormously! Gurney was so well cast; conveyed
the perfect combo of loyalty; bravery and the kind of person all
of us wish we could have as a friend. And Duncan...sigh...hated
when he was killed in the book, but hated it 100 times more in
the film. So well cast.
One can only hope that the Dune Saga will continue on Sci-Fi and
that we see Alice Krige again; whether it be Dune sagas or some
Hat's off to all involved in this production; I've not appreciated a film more!!
on September 8, 2005
The Atreides family saga continues in Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, John Harrison's epic television adaptation of Herbert's novels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. As impressive as the first miniseries was, this sequel manages to surpass it. The story picks up twelve years after Dune ended, with Paul Muad'Dib as the head of a galactic empire, and Muad'Dib's Fremen followers have plunged the Universe into a long, bloody holy war. Conspiracies develop all around Paul and his family as enemies, both on Arrakis and elsewhere, plot to destroy the Emperor. Alec Newman returns as Paul Atreides (aka Paul Muad'Dib). Newman has grown into the role and brought a new sense of maturity to the character. The same is true of Barbora Kodetova, who returns as Chani, Paul's true love. Julie Cox shines as Princess Irulan, as do P.H. Moriarty (Gurney Halleck), Alice Krige (replacing Saskia Reeves as Lady Jessica), James McAvoy (Leto II) and Daniela Amavia (Alia). Director Greg Yaitanes manages to draw some spectacular performances from his cast. And Brian Tyler's elegant score helps add some emotional weight to the storyline and sometimes even steals the show. Frank Herbert's Children of Dune is without a doubt one of the greatest miniseries I have ever seen, and I would love to see more of Herbert's novels adapted for television.
on April 13, 2003
Before I saw this series I had tried to watch the first SciFi Dune miniseries, but I was not able to follow the story well, and lost interest quickly. I also had not read the books, and before this series came on, my husband encouraged me to at least start reading Dune.
I was nearly halfway through Dune when I sat down to the first installment of this miniseries. It helped a little to have a bit of character backgrounds, but the thing that drew me in again and again was the great visuals that this series offered. The intrigue was also a big draw, and fed my desire to read the novels even more.
I have to agree with the other reviewers that Alice Krige (Lady Jessica) puts in a great and wonderful performance. She has the perfect balance of humanity, and caring, and imperiousness that I think Lady Jessica would have had. After seeing her in this role she is the Lady Jessica I see in my head when I read the novels.
If you are a science fiction fan, especially if you are a Frank Herbert/Dune fan, this should be a must see for you, and a welcome addition to your video collection.
on March 20, 2003
Director Greg Yaitanes miniseries creation "Children of Dune" is possibly the best on-screen rendition of any of Frank Herbert's sci-fi novels. Taking up the story where director Frank Harrison's 2000 miniseries "Dune" ends, "Children of Dune" is based upon two of Frank Herbert's books: "Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles, Book 2)" and "Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 3)".
The story begins on the planet Arrakis 12 years after the victory of Paul 'Muad'Dib' Atreides over House Harkonnen and Padishah-Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV. Muad'Dib not only became the Emperor, he also becomes the focus of a personality-cult religion. He married Princess Irulan Corrino, but his love remained with Chani. Several actors returned from the first "Dune" miniseries to play the same roles in "Children of Dune": Alec Newman as Muad'Dib (and does so far better than in the first "Dune" miniseries under Yaitanes' direction), Julie Cox as Princess Irulan Corrino (now the wife of Muad'Dib), Barbora Kodetová as Chani (Muad'Dib's concubine) and P.H. Moriarty as Gurney Halleck. Several different but well-known actors assume other characters: Lady Jessica played by Alice Krige (remembered as the Borg Queen in the 1996 film "Star Trek VIII: First Contact"), Wensicia (sister of the deposed Padishah-Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV) played by Susan Sarandan, and Stilgar was played by Steven Berkoff.
Chani dies after giving birth to twins: a boy and a girl, who are named Leto II and Ghanima. However, Paul, now physically blind, does not stay to raise them. Instead, he abandones his position as Emperor and wanders into the Arrakeen desert. Alia (Daniela Amavia) becomes head of state until Leto II is old enough to rule. Time is shifted forward again, and the twins, who grow faster than normal humans, appear as young adults. Leto II (James McAvoy) and Ghanima (Jessica Brooks) are raised by both Alia and Irulan, but many are plotting against House Atreides, including Wensicia. Many are also concerned about the greening of Arrakis that is harming the worms, the makers of the spice; but Leto II has a plan that he calls the Golden Path. Also, everyone must tread carefully around Alia who slowly goes mad, seeing delusions of the dead Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (replayed by Ian McNeice).
With a much larger budget than the first "Dune" miniseries, director Greg Yaitanes was able to create a far more extravagant and realistic portrayal of the story. Gone is the overuse of surrealistic lighting, but the less than realistic stillsuits remain in use. Actor James McAvoy does a stellar job creating the character Leto II, but the women in "Children of Dune" often take center stage and are each well acted. Though it is not perfect and uses some artistic license, I rate "Children of Dune" with 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.
on March 22, 2003
The 2001 Miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune wasn�t considered an enormous hit when it aired on the Sci-Fi channel but developed a large following once it hit DVD. Now that the name of Dune is fresh in the minds of the audiences, Children of Dune struck a much larger audience that it's predecessor. The Children of Dune Miniseries is a combination of the books Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Part one is solely Dune Messiah while the remaining episodes focus on Children of Dune. Alec Newman returns as Paul Muad'Dib Atreides who is now the Emperor of the known Universe. Many other characters have had actor changes. They include Stilgar, Duncan Idaho and Lady Jessica. All of the new actors do a fine job and in some ways better than the original miniseries' actors did. The budget and production values are much higher and more impressive than the original miniseries as well. John Harrison returns as the Screenwriter and now as Executive Producer. In my opinion I strongly enjoy the story of Dune much more than Dune Messiah and Children of Dune but I do enjoy this miniseries adaptation better than the original series. Truthfully I think the David Lynch version of Dune is much greater than the Miniseries but don�t kill me for that folks. To wrap it up, this is a wonderful adaptation to Frank Herbert's immense universe of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. The acting, music, set design, writing and directing are all top notch. Highly recommended to any science fiction or Dune fan.