The entire 265 minute production is up in two parts right now on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueYYVRTWmjY) and looks great on my phone. But that’s not why I watched it now after avoiding it for a long time.
It’s because I watched the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary and now, I can’t help but see Dune like another production of Macbeth. I wouldn’t balk at a Macbeth that changed everything. I don’t cringe watching the Lynch and DeLaurentiis Dune. I like it. It’s not Herbert’s Dune. It’s another Dune. So was Jodorowsky’s. They should all exist. You can’t tell a story as great as Dune and do it right without making what amounts to a new version.
Why? The manner in which a thing is made will transfer to the work itself and to make a thing that bears the kind of animate spark we love in so many works (like Herbert’s beloved Dune) requires a working process that creates that spark in the people involved. That process must be full of thrill and discovery and risk and require courage for lack of a better word because these are the things of which inspired art is made. The only way to get that from people is to challenge them to do something they don’t already know how to do – in this case, to make a new Dune, a Dune that is an expression of themselves and their time. (Like that film version of Macbeth I enjoy so much with Patrick Stewart and machine guns.)
The 2000 TV production of Dune looks visually spartan now, but the production has an air of craftiness and a grim commitment to tell an epic story despite the sizable challenges. This is a lean, thirsty production that has a gravitas to it like its Fremen.
This spare Dune doesn’t have the opulence of the DeLaurentiis production or Jodorowsky and his band’s imaginings. The 2000 production is less seductive to the eye. It’s a lean telling of the tale. Note for those who have issues with visual effects from 14 years ago – if you watch on a small screen like your phone at the 360p resolution of that youtube version, then much will be left up to your imagination (in the best of ways). There’s something to the pace of the whole thing that’s surprisingly immersive.
Ian McNeice’s performance added to the Baron Harkonnen that forever floats in my head. Indeed, this production added something new to the whole, crazy, colonial, messianic Dune myth that is, for me, an amalgam of all these different productions along with the original book. And, of course, that amalgam includes all the different Dunes all of us imagine when we read it.
My next challenge will be getting over the fact that Tom Baker isn’t The Doctor anymore.
A.D. Bloom wrote The War of Alien Aggression (2014) He’s a habitual killer of his darlings and eagerly counts the hours until the day when he may be lucky enough to witness the brilliant butchery and rebirth of his own stories as television and film productions.