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Frank Herbert's Dune The Complete TV miniseries of Dune and Children of Dune DVD Review - -

Feature 8.0
Video 7.0
Audio 6.5
Special Features   0.0
Total 8.0
Distributor: Umbrella
Running Time: 200 Minutes
Reviewer: Simon O'Donnell


Frank Herbert's Dune
The Complete TV miniseries of Dune and Children of Dune

Before reading the novels by Frank Herbert, I was first introduced to David Lynch's Dune via the 1983 movie that left me gobsmacked about this amazing futuristic and Imperial themed space story. As I craved more, I eagerly hunted down the novels and discovered more of this amazing world as I read about the Atreides family and the despised Harkonnens with all the backstabbing intrigue as they fight for the elusive spice, one of the universes most powerful substances.

Then in 2000 (Dune) and 2003 (Children of Dune), two mini-series were released on TV that in my opinion were quite faithful to the original books and once again expanded the Dune universe to the general public. To my knowledge, I've never noticed any screenings of either series on commercial TV, unless it was during the Witching Hour (12am+) but I've finally finished watching both science fiction series and wow... what an experience. Given that I have finally finished this epic, trying to sum up the story is at times trying to decipher the Rosetta stone due to all the sometimes complicated yet interesting politics, so please forgive!

Dune is set in the 11th millennium (23,000 years in the future) that revolves around the planet called Arrakis, a desert world with one special feature. This planet is known for one of the most precious substances in the universe, Spice. When harvested and consumed by individuals, Spice has the ability to enhance the mental abilities of that person and to prolong their life. Needless to say, it's a valuable asset that is unfortunately fraught with dangers to those seeking to control this almost magical substance.

Filled with politically intrigue, Dune is almost a snapshot of Imperial Rome but of course, set thousands of years in the future. In this reality, the galaxy is ruled by a nefarious emperor who wishes to dispose Duke Leto Atreides (William Hurt) by bestowing upon him, the planet of Arrakis. Unfortunately for Leto, Arrakis is controlled by the vile Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Ian McNeice) who believes that the prescience of the Duke will have a detrimental effect on his powerbase and plots to murder him.

As this bold tactic works, the Duke's mistress Lady Jessica Atreides (Saskia Reeves) and her son Paul (Alec Newman) flee into the desert, only to be discovered by the Freman, a desert tribe who have been exposed to spice for countless generations. Wary of these interlopers, Prince Stilgar (Uwe Ochsenknecht) eventually offers them shelter as the arrival of Paul Paul Atreides has been prophesised as their liberator, the Muad'Dib. Without spoiling the plot too greatly, some artistic liberty has been taken in order to help with the flow of the story and of course, all the politics which is as equally exciting as the action.

And like Dune, Children of Dune faithfully recreates all facets of Herbert's original and complexities from the novel which looks visually amazing on DVD. Basically Children of Dune tell the tale of Dune Messiah and Children Dune which which combines both books into this sci-fi mini-series. Set 12 years after the original tale where Paul Atreides became emperor, Children of Dune is more about the various power bases in this universe re-establishing control such as Princess Wensicia, the daughter of disposed Emperor Shaddam Corrino the fourth.

As Paul's concubine Chani gives birth to twins, she dies soon after when Paul is once attacked by his enemies and is blinded by the stone burner. As Paul is forced into the desert due to his taint, his children are left with his sister Alia, regent of the empire and guardian of the emperor's children. Princess Irulan however is the "real" guardian of the children and all three form a very close bond.

However Alia soon falls victim to  Baron Vladimir Harkonnen who she killed several years ago and as her behaviour becomes unsettling towards the children, Lady Jessica and Princess Irulan. Without getting too much into semantics, a civil war is on the horizon and once again the children of Paul Atreides must raise to their station in order to quell the war but also the political fires that are burning throughout the universe. As mentioned, the calibre of acting is unparalleled for a science fiction series and features some strong performances by Alex Newman (Muad'Dib), Julie Cox (Irulan Corrino-Atreides) and even Susan Sarandon as Princess Wensicia Corrino. The cast is quite diverse but more importantly these consummate professionals who really get into their characters headspace.

On DVD, the video quality supports 16:9 Widescreen with boy Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 that sound quite majestic through our surround sound system. Running at just over 550 minutes, this collection features 5 discs that will not only sit proudly on your shelf but will be one series that can be watched over and over again.

Review courtesy of Umbrella


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