Dune (2000)

dune poster 2000 adaptation sci-fi channel
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Solid telling of the story

Stylized visuals often don't work

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Dune

Studio:   Milk & Honey Pictures

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Airdate(s):   December 3, 2000-December 6, 2000

MPAA Rating:   Unrated

dune sandworm 2000 adaptation

The spice is life!

The spice is life and the spice mélange only exists on the planet Arrakis.  When Duke Leto Atreides (William Hurt) is assigned to Arrakis by the Emperor (Giancarlo Giannini), it pits Leto against his enemy Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Ian McNeice) and his house.  Leto knows that he’s walking into a trap that could mean his death and the destruction of his house, but the options are slim.  When the Harkonnens stage an overthrowing of Leto, Leto’s wife Jessica (Saskia Reeves) and his son Paul (Alec Newman) find themselves thrust into the deserts of Arrakis and fighting for survival…but Arrakis has a legend:  the story of the Mahdi who could save the Fremen who live in the deserts of Arrakis.  Paul will become Maud’Dib…and the spice must flow!

Directed by John Harrison (who also adapted the screenplay), Dune is sometimes also known as Frank Herbert’s Dune.  The mini-series aired three nights on the Sci-Fi Channel on December 3, 2000, December 4, 2000, and December 6, 2000.  It won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Movie (Part II) and Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special (Part I) with a nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Part III).

I love Dune.  It is a novel I’ve read multiple times.  I remember getting Dune original when Lynch’s version of the novel was released, but later seeing that version, I realized how hard it is to adapt the novel.  This version of Dune shows a major improvement in the adaptation, but also continues to show its difficulty.

dune riding sandworm stillsuits paul mauddib 2000 adaptation

Ride the worm!

The story is very, very dense.  There is no humor in Dune, and Dune is relentless.  It is a completely different world that must be explained and its language must be presented and explained.  This adaptation does a rather good job (with some benefit of having the other novels of Dune fleshed out).  This provides a smoother adaptation, but it is still so long that it cannot be told in one sitting…and this movie was made before the development of serialized movies boomed with Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.

The movie banks a lot on William Hurt who is the big name brought in for the movie who also serves as the tragic death.  The star of the film is really Alec Newman who plays the stoic Paul decently, but it is a hard role to go from royal “brat” to god.  I don’t feel that either Saskia Reeves or her daughter played by Laura Burton are creepy enough as the “witches” of the books.  P.H. Moriarty is a good Gurney Halleck (and comparable to Patrick Stewart).  Ian McNeice isn’t as gross as the previous Baron Harkonnen who was too over-the-top, but Laszlo I. Kish and Matt Keeslar are rather forgettable as the nephews (you can’t beat Sting).

dune paul vs feyd matt keeslar alec newman 2000 adaptation

I wish I was fighting Sting

The mini-series has a very, very strange visual style.  It utilizes backdrops and matte-paintings to create the world of Dune.  It works within the context of the film and made the film affordable to produce, but it also looks very odd at points (especially scenes where they are pretending to run).  The sandworms work and that is a necessity for Dune.

Dune is a strong adaptation, but there is always room for improvement with this difficult story.  There has been talk of a new Dune (big screen) and the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune showed the famed director’s vision of the movie he never was able to make.  Dune is a novel that has transcended basic sci-fi and become a classic, so there will probably always be adaptations brewing.  The mini-series was followed by a second Dune mini-series in 2003 which adapted Herbert’s Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976).

Related Links:

Dune (1984)

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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