This week’s review is of an alternate version of a movie we probably all know fairly well.

Cast and Crew

Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica
Leonardo Cimino as the Baron’s Doctor
Brad Dourif as Piter De Vries
Jose Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Linda Hunt as Shadout Mapes
Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat
Richard Jordan as Duncan Idaho
Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Usul Muad’Dib Atreides
Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan
Silvana Mangano as Reverend Mother Ramallo
Everett McGill as Stilgar
Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Jack Nance as Captain Iakin Nefud
Sian Phillips as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jurgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides
Paul Smith as The Beat Rabban
Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck
Sting as Feyd-Rautha
Dean Stockwell as Dr. Wellington Yueh
Max von Sydow as Dr. Kynes
Alicia Witt as Alia
Sean Young as Chani

Written by David Lynch under the psuedonym Judas Booth, based on the Frank Herbert novel.
Directed by David Lynch, though this version credits him as “Alan Smithee,” the standard credit used under DGA rules when a director wants to disown a project.

Complete information is available from this IMDB page.

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This is an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, which is well known among the novel’s fan, but not often well liked. For those unfamiliar with the source material, this is set in the distant future, where the dominant political system is based on feudal houses and empires. The economy depends on a natural resource found on only one world. A power struggle to control that world is inevitable; one of the major players in that struggle gains more power than even he expected.

This version was created after the theatrical release of the film without the cooperation of David Lynch, which is why he took his name off of it. Unfortunately, it was also done with raw footage and almost no post production efforts. As a result, the new introduction involves eight minutes of dictated backstory using storyboards and concept art as the on screen backdrop. There is also a large amount of footage with unfinished special effects, such as Fremen with normal eyes and ray guns that don’t emit rays when they fire.

High Point

The entire point of the studio edits seem to be to make the story more sensible. Unlike the theatrical version, I’m confident that this version will make sense to someone who hasn’t read the book.

Low Point

The decision not to complete the visual effects for the new footage. It gives the impression that the movie was cheap, when in fact it was the most expensive movie ever made at the time. I understand not completing the effects on the 1988 budget with that technology, but I doubt it would have cost much to complete them in time for this DVD release with modern technology.

The Review

This adaptation, while faithful in some ways, deviated from the source material in others. Unfortunately, those deviations (such as weirding modules) are often in heavy opposition to the source material. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects hold up when they were finished, but are jarringly absent in several places. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is far more complete and logical in this than in the theatrical cut. I still prefer the miniseries, but I feel that the writing presented here is superior to that which was shown on the big screen. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting can seem stiff and guarded, but the characters themselves are constantly stiff and guarded. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. I found the theatrical cut to feel long and boring, but this cut feels shorter despite being 40 minutes longer! It also takes the emphasis off the aspects that were changed from the novel, which is more satisfying for the fanboy in me. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production has some very rough edges due to the nature of the project. The opening sequence can drag on, and the editing isn’t as clean as it should be when the inserted footage is involved. It’s not the disaster you might expect when you see the Alan Smithee director credit at all. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a better cut that the theatrical version (also included in the DVD package linked above), but it’s not as good as the miniseries. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Dune: Extended Cut receives 28 out of 42.