Dune (2000) Directed by John Harrison (I): a jpoc movie review
The movie to satisfy fans of the book
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Six out of ten.
viewing notes
I first saw this on DVD borrowed from a friend in Muenchen.
The Atreides Family and Household
William Hurt Duke Leto Atreides
Alec Newman (I) Paul Atreides/Muad'Dib
Saskia Reeves Lady Jessica Atreides
James Watson (IV) Duncan Idaho
Jan Vlasák (I) Thufir Hawat
P.H. Moriarty Gurney Halleck
Robert Russell (II) Dr. Wellington Yueh
Laura Burton (III) St. Alia Atreides
The Harkonnen family and household
Ian McNeice Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Matt Keeslar Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen
László I. Kish Rabba
Jan Unger Piter Devries
Uwe Ochsenknecht Stilgar
Barbora Kodetová Chani
Karel Dobry Dr. Pardot Kynes/Liet
Jaroslava Siktancova Shadout Mapes
The Imperial Family
Giancarlo Giannini Padishah-Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV
Julie Cox Princess Irulan Corrino
You can buy this movie, the original book, soundtrack etc from
amazon.com Soundtrack Abridged Audiobook Full Audiobook
amazon.co.uk Soundtrack Abridged Audiobook
the jpoc review
Unlike the original Dune movie, this made for TV version tries to stay closer to the plot of Frank Herbert's novel and that will certainly enhance its appeal to fans. The original novel was as monumental in length and scope as War and Peace. It was set in a distant future in which interstellar travel mingled with feudal social structures ruled by noble houses and governed by the norms of ancient chivalric codes. The greatest wealth in the galaxy is Spice mined on the desert planet Arrakis. Spice is a consciousness expanding drug which allows the members of the navigators' guild to control starships at faster than light speeds. As such, it is the one commodity that binds the galactic empire together.

Arrakis has been ruled by the house Harkonnen with a degree of incompetence and corruption that is incompatible with the reliable production of Spice. Shaddam, the Galactic Emperor removes the Harkonnens from Arrakis and installs the House Atreides in its place. The two houses are bitter rivals and the Baron Harkonnen vows to destroy the Atreides, murder Duke Leto Atreides (William Hurt) and take back the wealth of Arrakis.

They reckon without the resourcefulness of Jessica (Saskia Reeves) and Paul (Alec Newman (I)), the widow and son of Leto, who flee to the desert and organise resistance amongst the native Fremen led by Stilgar (Uwe Ochsenknecht) who, while distrusting offworld rule, become convinced that Paul Atreides is their Mahdi, a promised messiah who will rescue them from their oppressors. From their desert refuge and with the help of the Fremen allies and the few survivors of the Atreides staff, Paul and his mother set about reclaiming the planet and defeating the Harkonnen.

That is a lot of plot in itself and it is intertwined with a number of sub plots. Jessica is a member of a religious order which hopes to create a new breed of superhuman. The first of this is not due for a generation but Jessica thinks that, by defying her order, she may have produced such a person in Paul. In the desert, as well as winning the trust of the Fremen, Paul wins the love of Chani (Barbora Kodetová) but must balance that against the possibility that, should he succeed in retaking the planet, the Emperor Shaddam (Giancarlo Giannini) will want to make an alliance with him in the form of marriage to his daughter the Princess Irulan (Julie Cox).

Perhaps the audience should be taking notes?

Despite its lowly origins as a TV mini series, Dune has levels of production and effects that are on a par with most mainstream SF movies. That is to say, very good effects, slick editing that keeps the pace up and mediocre acting and scripting. With the exception of Alec Newman in the role of Paul, none of the actors actually seems to believe in their part. To a large part, this is probably down to the sheer scale of the movie. In terms of running time, Dune is the equivalent of two and half normal movies and I am certain that the budget did not allow for two and a half times as much raw footage. The scripting is of course heavily constrained by the goal of sticking closely to the book and at that, it does a good job.

At four and a half hours, many people will find this film far too long to sit through in one go but it is fair to say that the movie could not have been trimmed without losing much of its texture. Also, if you do have the stamina to sit through it in one go, it is sufficiently well paced that you will not feel like a contender for masochist of the week.

If you have read the book, this is the film version that you will want to see. If you have not read it, don't worry, the film stands on its own and is worth watching.