In the documentary, “Impressions of Dune,” one of the interviews mentions that some material should never be adapted into film and DUNE is one of those. The irony in that is that not only has this been remade into a 2000 miniseries, but there’s another big-budget adaptation coming out later this year directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). Controversy over the new film has been making headlines over the last year as Villeneuve has been vocal about his opposition towards the film’s HBO Max streaming release the same day as theaters.
Based on the trailer, it’s obvious as to why his creative vision was meant for the big screen, but the world is enduring an ongoing pandemic and creative visions always come second. Other debates lead to how the film’s box office could be potentially damaged with the streaming release, losing millions of dollars and the chance for potential sequels. However, I’m curious as to how many of the core consumers that are still going to the movies have actually heard of DUNE. I’ve gone on almost a week-to-week basis for a few months now and that trailer has only shown once and that was months ago.
I mention this as I’m curious how the new one will play out due to its unsuccessful track record of hiring A-list actors, top-notch special effects, and utilizing an existing property that doesn’t exist outside its core fanbase. In 1984, director David Lynch attempted that same formula to disastrous results. While it was not well-received upon its release, it has developed a cult following, but cult fame doesn’t equal profit. Also, it’s questionable if one’s cult status is based on nostalgia or just the appeal of a disastrous result (I’m looking at you, Troll 2).
As one can probably tell, Arrow Video’s 4K release of Lynch’s version is the first time I’ve visited this world. I honestly was surprised to see his name as director as I’ve always associated him with more touching on artistically daring visuals like in Eraserhead or mindfucks like Mulholland Drive. While DUNE does carry some of the signature weirdness, it does play out like standard science fiction. It’s so stuck up in its own world that the included booklet has a section dedicated to the terminology.
Arrow has unleashed multiple versions to coincide with the new film with the primary differences being the artwork and the choice between Blu-ray and 4K. The 4K disc is presented in Dolby Vision, a brand new restoration from the original negative. The picture is a major upgrade from previous releases (based on the footage seen in the special features). The desert landscape shows off pretty clean and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix comes to life during action sequences. Two new commentaries were recorded by film historian Paul M. Sammon and Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast. Multiple archival documentaries are included on the 4K disc as well as deleted scenes and trailers.
The second disc is on Blu-ray which doesn’t include the film but rather additional special features. The main attraction on this is the newly filmed “Beyond Imagination: Merchandising Dune,” which focuses on all the rather cool merch created during the film’s release. Apparently, this was expected to become a huge franchise. The documentary shows off stuff from kids’ toys to party plates and blankets. The booklet included delves deeper into the film’s production, but an older interview with Lynch helps us understand the behind-the-scenes drama that led to the film we now see. Like previous Arrow limited-edition releases, lobby card reproductions and a double-sided poster are included.
DUNE fans will be pleased with Arrow’s new 4K release as it offers a new restoration and plenty of special features to dig into. You can pre-order the 4K edition here.