Do we really need a third version of 'Dune'?

Dunesting_l_2News from Variety that Paramount is moving ahead with yet another adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune prompts the question in this item’s title. Obviously, I disagree with my colleague Marc Bernardin on this one. His argument is that filmmakers should try again because the previous two versions (the 1984 big-screen adaptation, which frustrated the creative gifts of even a director as visionary as David Lynch and left most viewers with unsettling visions of Sting in a silver Speedo; and the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, which didn’t stumble as much) didn’t quite get it right. He’s correct, but unlike Marc, I don’t think the third time will be the charm. For one thing, Peter Berg isn’t the director I’d trust with a sprawling fantasy epic; he seems more the type for gritty, real-world dramas (The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights). Second, I think the Sci-Fi Channel version is about as close as we’re going to get to Herbert’s original vision. The book is a sweeping epic that needs more time and space than a feature allows; at the same time, it’s a culty, arcane tale, full of byzantine galactic political and economic intrigue of the sort that not even George Lucas could make cinematically compelling in The Phantom Menace. The Sci-Fi Channel was probably the right place for it, not the multiplex.

What say you, PopWatchers? Am I being too pessimistic? Does Berg deserve the benefit of the doubt? Or should Herbert fans just call it a day and make do with the Dunes they’ve got?

addCredit(“Sting: Everett Collection”)

Comments (25 total) Add your comment
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  • AA

    Okay, I’m about to put my geekiness out there, but I am completely opposed to the idea of re-making Dune. You’ve had your chance. There are soooo many other epic fantasies waiting for adaptation. Wheel of Time please?

  • StaleCake

    Short answer: no. Lynch got Paul and the Harkonnen totally right, the SciFi got everything else fine. OPEN LETTER TO PETER BERG: PLEASE WRITE AN ORIGINAL SCI-FI. Not another Dune. And if your Sci-Fi starts with a ship responding to a distress beacon, I’m jumping out the window.

  • EP Sato

    Woah, George Lucas failed with the Phantom Menace because his understanding of politics is about as good as my understanding of how to make CGI special effects (nil). Space politics can be interesting (part of Star Trek’s appeal is the federation, which actually resembles a realistic legislature), but Lucas was totally lost. Seriously, a 17 year old ELECTED queen? Lucas needs to read some Locke, Aristotle, or at least a copy of “how our government works”.
    Agreed that the sci fi series was about as close to the original work as possible. A movie would work as a trilogy, but that’s a lot of time to dedicate to one story.
    That said, if they make a new Dune movie I’ll go see it. The video game was just that cool…

  • Tony

    I’m on the fence. The Sci-Fi version is pretty good, though it shows its shoddy production budget far to much in the desert. I’d love to see Dune captured perfectly on screen; I just don’t think it will ever happen. I’ll probably just go back and read the book for the umpteenth time.

  • ChadronJames

    Dune is one of my favorite books. I have read it several times. Neither of the filmed versions do it justice. The Sci-Fi channel version was close but it had bad acting, bad sets, and a poor budget. A new version may not do well in theaters, but it would make money with Dune fans for years to come. There are millions of Dune fans and there is a need for a definitive film version of the story.

  • Snarf

    Why not? They’re re-making everything else these days….

  • Eli

    I am totally ambivalent about it, this is me, ambivalently typing about how ambivalent i am about it. which probably means, i will not go see it. But I will get the DVD and have a one week Dune marathon when i’m too old to move from a chair. it will be my penance before dying, so i can get into heave. “But God, I watched all the Dune movies.” Free pass.

  • Eric Friedmann

    I think the reason DUNE (1984) did so badly when it was released in theaters was because at the time, very few had any understanding or appreciated of David Lynch’s vision as an artist and a director. Decades later, after his success with BLUE VELVET, TWIN PEAKS and MULHOLLAND DRIVE, I think DUNE has more of a cult following for the sci-fi classic that it truly is. Film history can say what it wants, but David Lynch’s DUNE is a great science fiction film and should definitely NOT be remade again!
    FYI: David Lynch was offered the job to direct RETURN OF THE JEDI, but turned it down to do DUNE. Can you imagine the deliciously-bizarre version of JEDI we would have under Lynch’s direction? Oh, it would have been great!

  • EP Sato

    Friedmann, that would have been AWESOME! Luke would have fallen asleep to dream about Ewoks in burning suits. You know that scene with Leia getting separated from the rebels on Endor would have been crazy!
    Oh man, David Lynch directing Return of the Jedi? Lord that is going to mess with me for a loooong time.

  • Eric Friedmann

    EP Sato, under Lynch’s direction, here’s the JEDI we might have had:
    – No Ewoks (that’s a good thing!)!
    – No stupid musical number in Jabba’s palace!
    – Better acting and better dialogue from the cast!
    – A meaner, more evil Darth Vader who might have had more to say than, “Yes, my master.”
    – A Yoda who didn’t repeat most of his same lines about the Force from EMPIRE!
    – A much-less-effeminite C-3PO!
    Oh, what might have been!

  • Stephanie T.

    Yeah EP and Han would have hid in a closet and when he was caught, Lea would have forced him to undress. And and instead of being attacked by Darth Siddious (The Emperor), Luke would have been attacked by a bald Robert Blake. :-P The first version of Dune was over 2 hours and 20 minutes long. The reason why it flopped, was the reason why Grindhouse flopped- it was too long. However, I agree Eric. Dune is a sci-fi cult classic simply because Lynch struck a chord with “Blue Velvet”.

  • Susan

    David Lynch’s version of “Dune” is THE DEFINITIVE ONE. Heck, it not only had Sting but Michael Bolton among the Fremen drummers. Lynch stuck to the spirit of the books, while the Sci Fi Channel was more literal (and gave the Bene Gesserit awful outfits)
    However,”Children of Dune” was excellent (think of the Inama Nushif song!),especially with James McAvoy as the thoughtful, melancholy Leto II. Why remake a classic????

  • Eric Friedmann

    And hey, where else can you get a science fiction film with an entire soundtrack by TOTO???
    Sorry – for those of you younger than 30, here’s some of Toto’s most popular rock hits:
    – Hold the Line (1977)
    – Rosanna (1984)
    – Africa (1984)
    – Stop Loving You (1987)
    – Pamela (1987)

  • Eric Friedmann

    Seriously, though, I think that David Lynch is the only director today who has any balls to go beyond the norm of logic in his film making. I was probably one of few people who saw his last film, INLAND EMPIRE, in the theater. It was three hours long and nearly incomprehensible, and yet it was one of the best art films I’ve ever seen. His dreamlike visions and images have a way of grabbing you and not letting go, whether you can follow the storyline (very little storyline!) or not.
    And strangely enough, just when you think you’ve got Lynch figured out as a film maker, he goes and makes a film like THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999); a G-rated, straight-forward story about an old man who travels by tractor to see his estranged, ailing brother. A good film nonetheless, but go figure.

  • StaleCake

    i did love Lynch’s Dune – but it has 2 of the worst lines of dialogue ever: 1) When Virginia Madsen is narrating the opening, she says “Oh, I forgot to mention”… WTF? You’re narrating an Epic and you forgot to mention? Not a good sign. The second is when Linda Hunt appears in House Atreides and says “I am the House Keeper”. The whole theatre cracked up at that one.

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