1st March, 2017.
You know: this may be one of those rare — for now — times where I go to bed, leaving a post unfinished.
I don’t like doing that.
Not often, at any rate.
But am very aware that I’ve had a free evening, tonight.
And watched a film: that’s three hours long.
The extended cut of David Lynch’s Dune.
The one he took his name OFF of.
It was …
Set at least ten thousand years from now, and based on the Frank Herbert novel, Dune follows the story of Paul Atreides — Kyle MacLachlan — as his noble family is manoeuvred into running the planet Arrakis, the Dune of the title …
And the source of a drug known as Melange, or spice.
The drug has a mild euphoric effect, prolong human life, and — in susceptible humans — can give them accurate visions of the future.
Some of those susceptible humans are the Navigators.
They use the drug to ‘fold space,’ and steer space ships.
As such? The drug is the bias of the economy, as the Navigators are the only ones who can do so.
It’s only found on the one place.
And, as Paul’s father observes, know the Atreides family have been forced into running the planet by their enemies, the Harkonnens?
“Knowing where the trap is—that’s the first step in evading it.”
Leto Atreides doesn’t survive.
Paul … ?
Feels revenge is the only option …
I’m going to have to try and explain how I geek about what I’ve seen tonight, by explaining the little I know of the film’s making.
Dune — the book — was first published in 1965. And was optioned, re-optioned and re-reoptioned: until the film rights ended up with producer, Dino De Laurentis.
And being directed by David Lynch.
Lynch eventually came up with a script that would have turned into a four hour film.
But got talked into extensively cutting the thing down to some one hundred and thirty-seven minutes. Just over two and a quarter hours, if you want to put it like that.
That was a the version seen internationally.
A version I only got to see, a few years later: and long after I’d read the book.
That version is the version Lynch insisted was the best: and the version Herbert himself both liked, and approved of.
Unfortunately? Universal, the film’s distributors, felt that the story could be — possibly — better told as a TV miniseries.
Which resulted in them re-cutting the film into a two episode edition.
Lynch wash‘t happy: and insisted his name be taken off as the director.
The extended cut I’ve watched tonight?
Is that miniseries version: re-cut into an extended version, and credited to Alan Smithee.
Speaking as a fan … ?
Speaking as a fan of both the novel, and the original cut of the film?
I’ve mixed feelings on the extended cut.
I’m thinking, at the moment?
That both versions of the film are enjoyable.
But I’m also very aware the theatrical release has its critics.
For a start, and as Frank Herbert points out, there’s the ending: the same in both versions of the film
It sees Paul Atreides winning the climactic battle against Feyd Rautha Harkonnen, gaining the throne of the known human universe … and miraculous starting rain on Arrakis.
Herbert, himself, pointed out that Paul Muad’dib is not a messiah.
He’s a well trained nobleman: who’s been brought up with the best of everything his universe can offer, and who uses that education and resource to claim to be a messiah.
In order to both gain revenge, AND to gain power.
I ’m very aware that the theatrical release doesn’t give us enough of the story: there’s great holes missing, which the extended cut tries to address.
The Harkonnens, in the theatrical cut, are comical: almost a science fiction version of The Three Stooges.
The extended cut gives Kevin McMillan — as Baron Harkonnen — a few menacing scenes, and give Sting’s take on Feyd a menacing feel.
So, for me?
Seeing this cut was a chore: one with a LOT of re-used footage and one I know David Lynch wouldn’t necessarily agree I should see.
But it allows me me to see more of a gorgeous looking, but flawed, masterpiece.
Wondering whether it could have been done as a mini-series in the first place: after all, I feel the 2000 miniseries got the ending right, even though that’s FFAR from perfect
If it could have been done as a multi-part trilogy: along the lines of Lord of the Rings.
And wondering one last thing.
What would the four hour version of Dune look like?
We’ll possibly never know.
The Extended Cut.