A love it or hate it film, "Dune" is David Lynch's attempt at mainstream cinema, and it is certainly anything but. A mixture of politics, mysticism, sci-fi and action, it is easy to see how the 1984 film doesn't appeal to anyone, but if you're a fan you'll want to check out the 190-minute extended edition, out on American DVD for the first time.
"Dune," based on the excellent Frank Herbert novel and the first in a series of books, portrays political betrayal and destiny on a desert planet called Arrakis, where it never rains. Inhabitants have to wear special suits to completely recycle their body water, but that is only one small problem of the planet. Arrakis, the only source of spice - the material that powers intergalactic travel and thus holds together the human empire - is protected by large sand worms that destroy anything that causes vibration. When a duke and his family are assigned to control the planet, they are unaware that their promotion is only a part of a scheme by the emperor and rival Baron Harkonnen to destroy them. While the duke is murdered, his wife and son Paul Atreides escape into the desert, where they slowly begin to plan their revenge.
"Dune" is a fabulous film, and it is only aided by the extra hour that has been added in this edition. While the first few minutes don't quite work as it merely contains narration and poorly-drawn space art, the extended edition explain the complicated dynamics of the story with much greater detail and allow for better character and story development. Rarely does an extended edition actually add to the value of the film, but "Dune" is certainly an exception.
The movie still holds up amazingly well, even though it was released more than 20 years ago. While the outer space special effects and a few other shots definitely show their age, the movie overall still looks rich and quite believable.
The DVD comes with both the Extended version and the original theatrical version; the package is definitely a must-have for fans of the movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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