Saturday, 16 March 2013

Frank Herbert's Dune

trailer for Frank Herbert's Dune

I mentioned my liking for Dune - both the book and the 1984 David Lynch movie - a while back (see Dune, 10 October 2008). But for some reason, I only just got around to watching the 2000 TV mini-series, Frank Herbert's Dune. It's excellent.

Although the Lynch film is very watchable, it brings in a number of innovations (for instance, the decision to change the novel's "weirding way" from a martial art to a sonic weapon technology); a lot of general exaggerations for cinematic impact (I recall way back seeing ridicule of the portrayal of the villain, Baron Harkonnen, as "a bubonic buggering balloon buffoon"); and, more insidiously, altering Frank Herbert's message - "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes" - into an ending that treats Paul Muad'Dib's heroic, even Messianic, status as a good outcome.

As described in this article - DUNE: Remaking the Classic Novel ("Executive producer Richard Rubinstein and director John Harrison discuss creating the new mini-series") - the mini-series came about because the executive producer, Richard Rubinstein, found that Dino De Laurentis had not acquired the TV rights. Harrison went back to source. There are some additions that he put in to emphasise aspects of the book that he thought Herbert conveyed too subtly - such as the central role of the unseen narrator, Princess Irulan, in the politics of the Dune universe - but it sticks pretty faithfully to the novel's text and spirit. The whole production, filmed with an international cast, largely on studio sets in Prague, looks very good, with interesting costumes ranging between Expressionist and mediaeval in style. It portrays the Harkonnens as they are in the book: vicious and decadent, but not the ridiculous grotesques of the Lynch film. And, nicely, it doesn't neglect the water rituals and cultural quirks of Arrakis.

If you haven't seen the mini-series, it's worth checking out. It probably shouldn't be on YouTube, but it is: Part 1 (2:47) / Part 2 (1:57).

- Ray

No comments:

Post a Comment