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Film
Over seven millennia in the future, the universe revolves around one planet—Arrakis, also known as Dune. Dune is home to the scarcest commodity in the known universe. It extends life and makes instant space travel possible. This is what has two rivaling empires, the Atreides and the Harkonnens, in conflict. The film follows Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) and his voyage to ‘Dune,’ his family’s betrayal and the eventual realization of his destiny among Dune’s natives, the Fremen.

Dune: Special Edition
Dune is a rather interesting film, somewhat of a cult classic which had torn critics, fans and newcomers alike right down the middle of the love/hate page. This reviewer, being a fan of Herbert’s novel, found much to like in this film. The sets were beautifully designed, the special effects are good for the day, the actors feel very comfortable with their characters, and overall it is paced very well. The fact that the film moves very fast was a problem for some viewers.

That having been said, there are some down sides. The villains play a key role in the negative side of the film. There are some unnecessarily dark scenes, some key points from the book to clear up, the ending left out, and the villainous Emperor Harkonnen family, Spacing Guild and Bene Gesseret villains coming across as humorous rather than scary or menacing. However, their appearance is rare so it does not bother much. That aside, ‘Dune’ is till a cult classic that still sat very well with this viewer.

Video
Dune is a very striking film visually. Thanks to the DVD gods, this one delivers a transfer that the film deserves. It comes with a newly re-mastered 2.35:1 widescreen transfer that came from a high definition reel of the film, and it definitely shows. This is a wonderful transfer. It is nice and clear with the only visible grain showing faintly in some of the blue costumes, and some black backgrounds. These are only visible if you are looking for them, which makes them virtually invisible.

Dune: Special Edition
Other than that, it is immaculate. All the colours are crisp and clear. Skin tones are fabulous, you will notice things in the crystal clear skies you’ve never seen in previous viewings and the sands of Arrakis look as if they will burn the skin off you. It is great to see this film get the transfer it needs and deserves. This has some almost visible grain, but other than that is flawless considering the age of the film.

Audio
This version features two audio soundtracks—a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track and a Dolby 2.0 Surround track. The 5.1 was listened to in full with samples of the 2.0 on some scenes.

The soundtrack was also newly re-mastered for this Special Edition release and it is a grand thing that it was. In the 5.1 surround track all five speakers plus the subwoofer get a fair workout. The sound is perfectly balanced with the front speakers providing most of the sound, with the surround speakers providing scene-setting background noise and that extra kick needed in the action scenes. The surround speakers also help to emphasize the wonderful music score. The dialogue is also very clear and always in perfect synch. You will also get your sub shaking the floors during those thunderous sandworm scenes. The 2.0 does well for itself from what was heard, but the preferable option here is the 5.1 track. It is brilliant.

Dune: Special Edition
Extras
The first disc contains only the film with animated menus, scene selection and set-up options. The second disc comes with a new collection of exclusive special features: Impressions of Dune is a brand new documentary which features interviews with lead actor Kyle MacLaclan, producer Raffaella De Laurentis and many others who were involved with the film’s production. Over the forty minute documentary, we learn about the film from pre to post production with a reflection from every key player. It is not as detailed as one would like, but it gives great insight to the film not seen previously.

Destination Dune is a short six minute behind the scenes promotional film from 1983, re-mastered for this DVD release. It features some behind the scenes footage and some on-set interviews with cast and crew alike. It is interesting to see, but would have been better had it not been so short.

An Interview with Frank Herbert comes next. Obviously captured from a talk show many years ago, this interview is only ninety second long and gives little insight into Dune. It’s also poorly transferred. Finally we have a Theatrical Trailer, which runs for around three minutes, and Cast and Crew Profiles, which are standard stuff.

Dune: Special Edition
Dune: Filming of a Masterpiece is a thirty-two page booklet written by Paul M. Sammon, with foreword by ‘Dune’ prequel writers Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. This book goes into great detail about the film from deep in the pre-production stage to the films release and box office takings. It also gives some insight into some interesting things about the film even long time fans won’t know about. Also worth mentioning in the book are the several design sketches, some concept art, screen caps from the film, including caps of some deleted scenes as well as behind the scenes photos, all of which are written about in detail.

There is also an animatic of sketches through to final result of the launching bay as the menu. More of these would have been nice. The cover also provides some concept drawings on the back plus a photo of one of the giant studios used to film Dune.

Although you have to wonder why a second disc was required, it is a vast improvement over any release of Dune on DVD. This falls a little short for a two-disc release, but is still a very tidy package.

Dune: Special Edition
Overall
This version of Dune wins out over all previous releases. The film is a cult classic that went down quite well with this fan and is shown beautifully with an almost flawless video transfer and a very exciting 5.1 surround track. The extras aren’t plentiful but they are very nice none the less. Overall this is a worthy DVD purchase for fans, and anyone who’s interested.


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