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The long-awaited film version of Frank Herbert's classic science fiction epic, Dune, explodes on the screen with dazzling special effects, unforgettable images and powerful performances. The saga of intergalactic warrior Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) and his messianic rise to leadership features an all-star cast, including Jose Ferrer, Max Von Sydow, Oscar-winner Linda Hunt and rock legend, Sting. This monumental Dino DeLaurentiis presentation is directed by David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Eraserhead), with photography by Academy Award-winner Freddie Francis, music by Grammy-winner Toto, and incredible monster creation by E.T.'s Carlo Rambaldi. Visit an unbelievable world beyond and space, and experience the ultimate adventure that goes beyond the imagination.
Even more than most of David Lynch's deliberately bizarre and idiosyncratic movies, Dune is a "love-it-or-hate-it" affair. An ambitious, epic, utterly mind-boggling--and, let's admit it, all-out weird--adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel, Dune remains one of the most controversial films in the director's exceedingly provocative career. The story (if Dune can be said to have just one story) is complex and convoluted in the epic tradition; it has something to do with political intrigue and a planet that is home to a precious spice and gigantic sand worms. Think Shakespeare's Henry IV with a dash of Tremors, and set in another galaxy. But despite plenty of strangely whispered voice-overs that explain the characters' thoughts (and endlessly detailed exposition), storytelling is not really among the film's strong points. There are, however, a lot of memorably fantastic/grotesque images, an extraordinary cast, and a soundtrack featuring Toto. I told you it was weird. Among the stars are Kyle MacLachlan, José Ferrer, Dean Stockwell, Brad Dourif, Sting, Kenneth McMillan, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, and Linda Hunt. The DVD contains the original release version; a shorter version cut for television has been disowned by Lynch, who insisted his name be replaced by that famous Hollywood pseudonym "Alan Smithee." --Jim Emerson
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Another thing I discovered, which is probably a no duh to the experts, is that having a widescreen computer monitor and buying a widescreen DVD does not guarantee the movie will fill up your whole screen. We eventually figured out a work around, but I was surprised (aka annoyed) when it started playing and the picture was t-i-n-y because of the way the letterboxing is interpreted on a computer. This is, of course, not a problem for folks who have an actual TV and DVD player setup. =)
Now here is where the entire true purpose to this review comes in. Many may wonder, "why was I watching this on Sci-Fi channel and the director was Alan Smithee instead of David Lynch?" Well little Jimmy, the answer is complicated. David Lynch knew when he made Dune he was in trouble and cut the film down incredibly to make it fit the desired time limit. Lynch was slightly pleased with this cut of the film and hoped that that would be the last he would have to do with it... Wrong!
A few years when Dune finally was on TV, a special edition version was prepared containing an HOUR of extra footage. A new narration covers the film and practically spells out every bit of information to the audience this time. The studios were ready to show it when suddenly David Lynch says "Woa woa, I liked it the way it was!" and refuses to have credit for this new longer version. The studio then takes out Lynch's name and replaces it with the fake Alan Smithee who doesn't exist. With me so far?
The version of Dune available on DVD and VHS is the David Lynch version which in my opinion actually works better than the longer version. It cuts to the chase and doesn't drag as badly as Smithee's version does. For those of you who have never seen the Alan Smithee version, its not available to buy but it's shown on the Sci-Fi channel twice a year so there you go!
So, even though critics bombed it, audiences hated it, and David Lynch disowned the longer version, I still love this movie for some mysterious reason! If you're the type who likes weird artistic movies like 12 Monkeys, 2001, or Blade Runner, you will probably enjoy this. Also anime fans, this is right up your alley! For all you other people, get the hell out of here!
p.s. Toto's score is a masterpiece! Yea... of all bands... Toto...
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