Jessica and Helen Mohiam


? 1984 MCA/Universal Merchandising, Inc.
- Directed by David Lynch -
- Based on the novel by Frank Herbert -

Emperor Paul Muad'Dib

Page Contents:

Lynch's Dune | Versions of Dune | The Curtain Call
Movie-related Information | Movie Links

A beginning is a very delicate time...

In 1984, almost twenty years after Frank Herbert's novel became the first to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in science fiction, and after two other failed attempts at making the movie (see Jodorowsky's Dune), Dune finally made its long-awaited appearance on the big screen. At a cost estimated between $38 and $42 million, Dune was the largest movie production of its time. It's extraordinary international cast, which included the British rock idol, Sting, is almost unparalleled to this day. Filmed in Mexico, it required a full studio complex to house all seventy-five of its sets. There were also several dozen giant mechanical worms that had been created for the film. Yet despite all of this, the movie that was destined to make movie history hardly generated any public interest. Reasons for this lack of success are numerous, but its primary problems came from the movie's own excessive length and complexity, coupled with some significant differences between it and the novel. This distanced the film from many loyal Dune fans. To this day, most people who call themselves science fiction lovers have yet to read the books that helped play a critical role in the formation of modern science fiction. As time goes by, more and more science fiction gets published or put on the big screen even though they have only simple, one-dimensional plots. Few, if any, have contained truely developed worlds as complex and as detailed as the world of Dune.

Atreides' starship

Dune movie cover
Box covers


- Versions of Dune -
What's truth, and what's rumor?

Rumors about extended versions of Dune have been circulating for years. Regardless of what the rumors say, there are only three versions of Dune known to exist. The version often found on video cassette is the theatrical release and is the most commonly seen. Its full length is 2 hours and 17 minutes, and it is rated PG-13. It was put on video cassette by MCA Universal and, until just recently, it had been out of print for some time. In May 1997, it was re-released in two formats. The standard pan and scan format is extactly the same as the original Dune video. The box it comes in is also the same. The widescreen format contains no extra footage, and its box has a gold border around its frame. (For information about how to find a copy of Dune on video cassette, please read the information on where to find Dune collectibles.)

Another version known to exist has been dubbed "the 4-hour" or extended version, but is more appropriately named the "Allen Smithee version." This is the generic name used in place of David Lynch's name. Lynch, the director, did got get to play a role in the editting process, so he fought to have his name removed and replaced with "Allen Smithee." Although it is sometimes called "the 4-hour version," this version, in reality, is closer to 3 hours, but since it is usually found on television (regularly on the Sci-Fi Channel), the added commercials bring the total playing time close to the 4-hour mark. The most notable changes in this release are in the introduction, where an older man gives a longer introduction to the film than Irulan did. This release also includes scenes that weren't included in the shortened version, like the making of the Water of Life and Gurney playing the baliset. Although this extended version is said to have been made for the people who have read the book, many Dune fans agree that the added footage subtracts from the work, rather than add to it. Certain extra scenes involving Jurgen Prochnow (Duke Leto) and Patrick Stewart (Gurney Halleck) were poorly acted, and their additions hurt the film. Yet despite the slightly lower quality of the extended version of Dune, it is still very popular and highly sought. This version has never been released on video cassette, but it has been put onto laserdisc. (Again, please refer to my page discussing where to find Dune collectibles.) If you are interested in learning which scenes were added or altered in this version, be sure to check out Hiphats' "The Arrakis File," which is devoted to this topic.

The third and final version of Dune is the "Channel 2 version," which was made and aired once in 1992 by KTVU, a local Fox affiliate in San Francisco. It was pieced together using only the Allen Smithee version and the theatrical release. (No extra footage was added.) Ron Miller, who helped with the production of Dune, put it best when he told me: "Evidently they did what anyone could have done: cobbled together an idiosyncratic version of the film by melding bits and pieces of the theatrical and original TV versions. This has got to be an even worse mess than the Smithee edition. I would avoid it at all costs. Restoring Dune requires more than just haphazardly pasting together every scrap of film one can find."

So, do other versions of Dune exist? Personally, I doubt it. Even if such a copy existed, I can promise you that it would be difficult to watch. To piece this so-called "6-hour version" together, someone would've needed to have had access to all the movie scraps that were left on the chopping block after the film was put together. Since it would've been done without permission from Dino De Laurentiis Corporation and David Lynch, it would've been illegal. However, in Eye, Frank Herbert said that there were 6 hours of footage shot. Although he dearly wished to have this 6-hour version released, it never was. (The "4-hour" version is not what he had wanted.) It is not known what this "director's cut" would've been like in terms of quality. Regardless of what has been said, I personally feel that such a film would've been very low quality. In the production of every film, many brief scenes (most of which don't span more than 5 seconds) are constantly cut as the film is pasted together into its final form. By picking up the table scraps and throwing them back into the film, the movie would've been very choppy, and some scenes would have to be omitted since they were replaced by others. So in the same manner that one can argue that there may be a 6-hour version of Dune, one can also argue that there may be a 6-hour version of Star Wars or Independence Day floating around. As many Dune fans have already noted, the extended version of Dune doesn't flow as well as the shortened version. As you add more and more low quality scenes that may or may not flow with the rest of the film, the quality of any extended version decreases almost exponentially. So, all in all, Dune fans should be content with the two versions that are currently available. Although more could've been done to make it a better film, Dune is still a beautiful movie because of its sets, cast, crew, and special effects, especially when one considers the time at which it was made.

- The Curtain Call -
(Coming Soon)

Here are the men and women responsible for making Dune a tangible concept. Without their efforts,
many young Dune fans, including myself, would never have discovered this great epic.

Liet Kynes & Gurney

The cast

The production crew

Shaddam & Irulan
starFeyd & Rabban Harkonnen star

- Other items of interest -

bullet Soundtrack information

bullet Other collectors' items

Guild heighliner

- Movie Related Links -

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Mark Bennett's Dune Home Page

These pages house a wealth of information about the movie, including "Dune: Behind the Scenes", which contains scans of artwork that where emailed to Mark by Ron Miller, production illustrator for Dune. You'll also find more information about what was added and what was cut from the film in each of the versions. Lastly, you will find information about the different copies of Dune that have been released on video cassette and laserdisc.

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The Arrakis File

These pages contain vast amounts of information about the different versions of David Lynch's motion picture. Included is a list of added scenes found in the "Allen Smithee" version, information about the KTVU version, Dune trivia, a review of the new letterbox format videocassette, and up-to-date information about the Sci-Fi Channel's upcoming 6-hour miniseries.

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Jodorowsky's Dune

This page tells about Jodorowsky's version of Dune that almost made it to the theaters several years before Lynch's version.

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Dune review

This is a nicely designed summary of Dune, complete with pictures, sound samples, and a cast list. The site is housed in Australia.

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IMDB: DUNE entry

The Internet Movie Database's page with information about the movie, it's cast, and it's crew. A very complete page with links and much more.

Most of the images from the movie located on this page were scanned from the Dune collector cards produced by Fleer Corporation. The images themselves are property of MCA/Universal Merchandising, Inc.

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