Frank Herbert's Dune - The Spence Edit
- Crop the footage to 2:35:1 and desaturate the over-bright colors to make it more "cinematic". The film was actually originally shot in 2:1 ratio, so the cropping actually works quite well. Still, ever shot had to be hand cropped.
- Brian Tyler's score from Children of Dune has been incorporated and blended in with Graeme Revell's original score. Both composers are credited.
- New opening credits sequence.
- Princess Irulan's subplot with Feyd is removed. It doesn't really add anything to the story, she's just finding out things we already know.
- Paul is less whiny, less childish. Because this footage is so condensed, I needed to make him a little stronger right off the bat, so we can believe he has grown into the leader he becomes.
- The first act of the movie has been chopped up the most, completely reordered with a large amount of scenes removed.
- The majority of the cutting I did was for pacing and truncating the plot. Though it's still a long film, this length to me feels like the perfect amount of time to tell this story without it feeling hacked to bits.
When I watched the mini series back in 2000 I didn't think too much of it, but being a big Dune fan I welcomed another addition to the medium and the fact that it transferred more stuff from the book to the screen.
Some years ago I caught it again on TV and thought that it was dreadful. The production values were totally cheap, the costumes/props laughably bad and the actors sub-par to say the least. Also all the action scenes were very badly directed and the few good scenes were direct copy-paste from the movie. So yeah, this is a pretty bad show that at times dragged a lot with boring and badly acted dialog.
So what spence did with it? First, he improved the image quality. The colors in the original were indeed too kitch and he toned them down. Second, he tweaked the music to fit better. I don't recall the score much in the original and here it's more pronounced and it's a rather good score actually.
More importantly, he cut out a huge chunk of the mini series. The result indeed fits the narrative of one movie and as I mentioned before most of those scenes were badly directed and acted... but the result is more or less directly comparable to the 1984 movie and there's no comparison really. Lynch's movie, even in its original theatrical version, is vastly superior.
I don't mean to be hard on Spence because this edit indeed improves the overall quality and transforms a low quality mini-series to a mediocre movie. But the thing is that, at least to me, the main attraction of the mini-series is that it transferred much more of the book into the screen. Whatever you do, this is a cheap, badly directed and acted mini-series and there's only so much you can do to improve it.
Nevertheless, Spence deserves a lot of praise for improving many aspects of this series and providing seamless edits. I'd say this edit is recommended to every Dune fan who has already watched the mini-series and wants a re-watch that wont bore him too much.
i only watched the mini series once as i found it to look cheap and had some really bad acting and writing.
so i was a little on the fence with this one but after watching another fanedit of this series and that it was done by Spence i had to see it.
im glad i did as it is a really solid edit and really enjoyable.
i love the new aspect ratio, it makes it more like im watching a movie.
the edits were really good and the whole edit work perfectly.
I love "Dune."
Frank Herbert's novel has, for many years, been my favorite book. Since the day I read it, I longed for a worthy film adaptation. Sadly, David Lynch's attempt falls flat for me in many ways (even the excellent fan edits I've seen can't save it), and the SciFi Channel's miniseries can't keep my attention past the first episode. The script is solid (if overlong), but the acting, cheap sets, and overly theatrical cinematography just ruin it for me.
Enter Spence. Somehow, he's managed to take this cheap adaptation and turn it into the best possible film version of "Dune" I have ever seen.
I don't know what it is - maybe the change of aspect ratio to scope, maybe the subdued color palate, maybe the excision of most of Paul's whining and many other superfluous scenes - but everything about Spence's version of "Dune" engaged me.
The film (for this edit IS a film, not a miniseries) moves at a brisk pace, but doesn't rush. It cuts out large swaths of exposition, but everything is clear and understandable without the need to resort to narration or an awkward prologue. It's still beholden to the limitations of the source material (low-budget effects and sets), but somehow these no longer drag the material down like they do in the original.
Spence has done something remarkable here. He's taken a deeply flawed adaptation and turned it into the DEFINITIVE adaptation. I honestly believe that any writer/director/producer intending to adapt "Dune" for the screen again needs to watch this edit and take Spence's creative decisions to heart. This is not a slavish adaptation of the novel, this is the story of "Dune" told in an exciting, engaging movie that doesn't feel overlong or bogged down in exposition.
Tecnhically, this edit is almost flawless. I don't remember the original well enough to know what music from the sequel miniseries was inserted or where, but it works perfectly and doesn't feel shoehorned in. There are two awkward cuts that I feel can easily be fixed in the next version (which will hopefully also fix the incorrect "John Hurt" credit at the beginning), which I won't mention here so as not to call attention to them for new viewers (also, I can't remember what the second one was). I will mention them to Spence in the hopes that he can fix them, however. Outside of that, I didn't notice any hard or awkward cuts - everything flows as if it was always meant to be the way it's presented.
Outside of the small technical issues, are there flaws? Sure, but they rest with the source material. Some of the acting is still subpar. The Fremen eyes still look stupid (and disappear with certain camera angles). The sets are still cheap, and the desert looks like a studio with a painted backdrop (because it is). But there's little that can be done about these, and when the story moves at the pace Spence has set, they are hardly noticeable or important.
I have a couple issues beyond this, which is why I rate the narrative a 9/10, but Spence has pointed out that these are issues with the source material as well. I will detail them in the next paragraph, but be warned - if you aren't familiar with "Dune," THE NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS NARRATIVE SPOILERS!!!
The opening Reverend Mother/Paul scene feels pointless due to the fact that she never explains what the hell she just did to Paul, or why; the jump from Paul being accepted into the sietch to the Fremen attacking Harkonnen patrols feels abrupt and awkward; and while the removal of the narration at the end was, in my opinion, the right choice, it leaves the viewer somewhat unclear on what happens between Paul and Irulan.
Thankfully, these issues are minor and don't detract from the overall splendor of this edit (and, again, they are inherent to the original source material and not a flaw the edit itself).
I urge anyone who is a fan of "Dune" to give this a view, especially if you were disappointed in the miniseries before. And if you've never seen any version of "Dune," but are interested in watching it, make this the version you see first, even if you've never read the book.
You won't regret it. I promise.
This may be controversial, and please do not throw stones at me, but I actually prefer the Sci-Fi DUNE mini-series over the David Lynch version. I mean I have read the original Dune many times (and yet strangely, I have never read any of the sequel novels), I own and have watched all the various versions of Lynch's epic, including Spicediver's masterpiece but I have always had trouble with Lynch's vision of the characters and Dune universe.
Thus when news broke that Spence was back (!!!) and his return project was going to be the Frank Herbert Dune mini-series, I was overjoyed!
And I was not disappointed. This is a very entertaining fan edit.
Chopping over 100 minutes and cutting the narrative down to less than three hours, the movie is dense with rich (and only essential) story and moves at brisk, but never too fast, pace. The cropping of the footage to widescreen looked good to me, nothing seemed lost or off center. The music replacement (fantastic choices btw) is very well done and really enhances the epic feel of the movie.
Epic. That is the word that kept coming to mind as I watched this edit unfold. From the new score, the space opera style costumes, the soundstage sets/matte paintings and theatrical performances, this fan edit really felt like (and I mean this as the highest form of compliment ) an Old Hollywood Demille style biblical epic.
My nitpicks are very small... I thought the new opening credits could have benefited from a different font choice... they just did not match or set up the tone of the style and nature of the story. Also noticed the end credits are the French Language version... no biggie. The vast majority of cuts are seamless, though there were the odd one here or there I noticed. A couple of times I thought the new audio might have been a tad on the loud side and could have been dialed down slightly more.
But in terms of story, I agree with most of Spence's choices. This is not an edit about trying to be more faithful to the book, this is an edit about telling a good story. And Spence does this exceptionally well.