Dune appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given the nature of the source, this became a satisfactory presentation.
Sharpness seemed mostly strong. A few interiors could seem slightly murky but the film usually appeared fairly precise and distinctive.
Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects created issues, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or digital noise reduction, so expect a firm layer of grain. Print flaws also failed to manifest through the film.
Colors tended to seem fairly natural and accurate. The palette could’ve seemed peppier but the hues largely looked fine given the style of photography, as the palette emphasized ambers much of the time.
Black levels appeared mostly deep and dense and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy without excessive darkness. I felt pleased with this solid presentation.
I also thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Dune held up well over the decades. The soundstage seemed broad and engaging, especially from the forward channels. These displayed a good deal of activity and placed the sounds precisely within their places.
The surrounds were less active but they contributed nicely to the effect. Both music and ambient sounds came from the rears, and we even get some split-surround usage on occasion.
Quality seemed more than fine given the material’s age. Dialogue could come across as a little edgy at times but usually sounded reasonably natural and accurate, with no edginess or interference. Effects were crisp and fairly dynamic, with nice range.
The score seemed bright and bold, with good presence and no apparent distortion. The mix showed some good bass at times, which added nice depth to the track. This track seemed more than satisfying given the film’s vintage.
How did the 2021 Blu-ray compare to the 2006 DVD? Audio seemed more involving and vivid, while visuals were better defined, cleaner and more vibrant. The Blu-ray became a nice upgrade.
Note that Universal released a Blu-ray in 2010, but I never reviewed it so I can’t compare it to the new disc. Note that the 2006 DVD included an extended cut of Dune that fails to appear on either the 2010 Blu-ray or this 2021 version.
The 2021 Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and in the “new” category, we find two audio commentaries. The first comes from film historian/publicist Paul M. Sammon, as he provides a running discussion of the movie’s background and aspects of the production/shoot.
At the start, Sammon promises a “free-wheeling, impressionistic” look at Dune, but that sells himself short – somewhat, at least. You’ll note I didn’t refer to this track as “scene-specific”, as Sammon virtually never alludes to the on-screen action as it occurs.
Sammon offers more of an “audio essay” than a standard commentary, and that seems fine with me, as he provides a ton of good insights about the production. He digresses a little too much at times, but 95 percent of the track becomes vivid and informative.
For the second commentary, we hear from podcaster Mike White. He brings his own running, screen-specific examination of cast and crew, interpretation, themes and influences, his thoughts about the film, production topics and various other domains.
White gives us some of the standard “film historian” elements and he also approaches the movie in terms of its meaning and those areas. Some of this seems interesting, but the frequent references to supposed phallic or vaginal imagery gets a bit tedious.
Happily, these decrease as the track progresses and White spends more time with nuts and bolts. Though parts of the track frustrate, White delivers enough good material to make the chat worth a listen.
Moving to the extras, we mostly find a mix of featurettes. Deleted Scenes opens with a two-minute, 52-second introduction from producer Raffaella De Laurentiis. She chats about the mythical four-hour cut of the movie as well as various trims.
As for the content of the 11 deleted scenes, they run a total of 14 minutes, 21 seconds and we get more of the talking head introduction from Princess Irulan (Virginia Madsen) that opens the theatrical cut.
We also find exposition about the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, a chat about the prophecy between Leto and Thufir, similar content between Jessica and Shadout, and a mix of other bits that flesh out the story and themes. Many of these appear in the extended cut, but a few fresh ones pop up here. There’s nothing particularly compelling on display.
The next four featurettes look at technical areas. Designing Dune fills eight minutes, 55 seconds as we hear from set designers Giles Masters, Steve Cooper and Kevin Phipps, illustrator Ron Miller and art director Benjamin Fernandez.
They discuss working with Lynch, planning the sets and props, and actually building them. The program gives us a tight and informative view of these issues.
During the six-minute, one-second Dune FX, we get remarks from mechanical special effects creator Kit West, special effects floor chiefs Rodney Fuller and John Baker, special effects assistants Gary Zink and Trevor Wood, and special effects electronic unit chief John Hatt.
They talk about various effects, both visual and practical. We see some good behind the scenes elements to illustrate the nuts and bolts aspects of the conversation. It mixes high tech with low for an entertaining piece.
Dune Models & Miniatures fills seven minutes, three seconds with comments from de Laurentiis, special effects coordinator Charles L. Finance, production coordinator Golda Offenheim, foreground miniatures Emilio Ruiz del Rio, model unit supervisor Brian Smithies and motion control operator Eric Swenson.
It covers the design, creation and photography of these elements. It offers more nice details, all delivered with acceptable detail and good candor. I especially like the parts about those “blasted worms”.
Lastly, Dune Costumes goes for four minutes, 50 seconds. It features costume designer Bob Ringwood, assistant cutter Debbie Phipps, milliner Michael Jones, and suit head of construction Mark Siegel.
As expected, they discuss the design and creation of the various costumes in the movie. The participants rip through various outfits rapidly but still manage a fair amount of information. Despite its brevity, this is a tight and informative piece.
From 2003, Impressions of Dune spans 39 minutes, 39 seconds and includes remarks from De Laurentiis, director of photography Freddie Francis, editor Antony Gibbs, film critic David Ansen, screenwriter Harlan Ellison, production supervisor Golda Oppenheim, 2nd unit cinematographer Frederick Elmes, camera operator Gordon Hayman, and actor Kyle MacLachlan.
“Impressions” covers the source and its adaptation, how Lynch came to the project and his impact on the production, visual design, casting and performances, Frank Herbert’s involvement, sets and locations, effects, editing, and the film’s reception/legacy.
“Impressions” covers a nice array of topics, and it comes with an unusually frank tone at times. However, the program feels disjointed, as it leaps from one subject to another without a lot of logic.
Still, the positives outweigh the negatives. I’d prefer a smoother, tighter overview but we learn enough about the production to make this a generally useful show.
Made in 1983, Paul Sammon’s Destination Dune goes for six minutes, 16 seconds. Intended to promote the film at conventions and other events pre-release, it mainly shows concept art and shots from the set, though we get about 10 seconds of comments from Frank Herbert.
“Destination” seems vaguely interesting solely as an archival slice from the past. It doesn’t really tell us anything about the production, as it just acts to tease fans.
In addition to two trailers, we find three TV spots and a VHS promo. We also find five Image Galleries.
These break into “Production Stills” (348 frames), “Behind the Scenes” (88), “Cast Portraits” (265), “Production Design” (305) and “Poster & Video Art” (49).
We find good material across these domains, though some tend to feel like too much. In particular, “Cast Portraits” offers a bunch of nearly identical images, so it becomes a chore to wheel through so many similar photos.
A second disc provides additional materials. Unfortunately, the review copy I received only came with Disc One, so I can’t discuss these components.
According to the press release, Disc Two includes:
Beyond Imagination, a featurette about the film’s merchandising.
Prophecy Fulfilled, a featurette about the movie’s score.
Separate interviews with Makeup Effects Artist Giannetto de Rossi, Production Coordinator Golda Oppenheim, Interview with Actor Paul Smith and Makeup Effects Artist Christopher Tucker.
When/if I get this disc, I will add a discussion of these materials. Because I don’t know for sure that I will ever receive that platter, I didn’t want to delay my review for content I’ll never get.
Not on the discs themselves, this limited edition package also provides a 60-page book, adouble-sided poster and lobby card reproductions. Again, I didn’t receive these materials with my review discs. If that changes, I’ll include more specifics.
Dune features an epic story with aspirations to Biblical and Shakespearian traditions. Unfortunately, the execution of the flick is pure Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is a silly, choppy and awkward film that provokes plenty of unintentional laughs but little else. The Blu-ray offers pretty solid picture and audio along with a nice array of bonus materials. If you count yourself as a fan of David Lynch’s Dune, you should feel pleased with this quality release.
To rate this film visit the DVD review of DUNE