Review: David Lynch's Unfairly Maligned 'Dune' Arrives in Show-Stopping 4K from Arrow Films

by Sam Cohen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 7, 2021

Review: David Lynch's Unfairly Maligned 'Dune' Arrives in Show-Stopping 4K from Arrow Films

Of all the intellectual properties that Hollywood has gone to for financial wealth, Frank Herbert's "Dune" might be the among the most impossible to successfully adapt. Across all the miniseries and film adaptations of the popular science-fiction tome, David Lynch's 1984 attempt stands out as the most successful, albeit still hobbled by the vastness of Herbert's prose, among other things. Even with that said, it's a sprawling technological feat for its time, and is more distinct than most of the blockbuster slop we get served up. The film is even able to match the spirituality of the novel, as Lynch was, and still is, adept at charting the interior life of characters as it corresponds with their consciousness.

Arrow Films brings David Lynch's "Dune" to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a limited-edition release that pulls out all the stops for the unfairly maligned epic. "Dune" arrives here in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR, source from a 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative. The result is incredible, with a beautiful presentation offering a very film-like appearance, with nice notes of naturals film grain. One might think the upgraded resolution would show the seams of the special effects — many of which have naturally dated — but the deeper contrast and detail only accentuates the film's great artistry.

"Dune" follows the journey of Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), the son of a powerful noble at war over the desert planet Arrakis. Arrakis is the source of spice, a drug-like substance that heightens enlightenment and allows for faster, deeper space travel. "Dune" has an all-star cast, including a handful of frequent Lynch collaborators, famous international performers, and even a music superstar, Sting!

If we are to take Lynch's filmography as a series of dreams being realized through filmmaking, then "Dune" may be the only work that escapes Lynch's grasp. Although the film is clearly hobbled by lack of depth on the universe as a whole, frequently needing to summarize in voiceover things there simply wasn't enough time or money to include otherwise, the story fails to grasp the ecological and sociological threads that the novel so richly depicts. Actress Virginia Madsen has even noted that she was signed on for multiple films, but that was dependent on the financial success of the first entry. Unfortunately, the box office numbers didn't support an argument for continuing the franchise.

As for special features, Arrow has attached a generous list of archival and newly-produced features that you could spend hours watching. The interviews with make-up effects artist Giannette de Rossi and production coordinator Golda Offenheim specifically round out this stellar release with insightful anecdotes about the massive, and sometimes unwieldy, production. Lynch himself has told people he doesn't want to talk about the film anymore, as it recalls a dream not fully realized for him.

No matter what you think about David Lynch's attempt at adapting Frank Herbert's sprawling saga of novels, Arrow Films has produced an incredible home entertainment release that rewards those who look back upon the maligned 1984 sci-fi epic.

Other special features include:

• 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the film by Andrew Nette, Christian McCrea, and Charlie Brigden
• Large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dániel Taylor
• Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
• Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dániel Taylor
• Brand new audio commentary by film historian Paul M. Sammon
• Brand new audio commentary by Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast
• "Impressions of Dune" — a 2003 documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with star Kyle MacLachlan, producer Raffaella de Laurentiis, cinematographer Freddie Francis, editor Antony Gibbs and many others
• "Designing Dune" — a 2005 featurette looking back at the work of production designer Anthony Masters
• "Dune FX" — a 2005 featurette exploring the special effects in the film
• "Dune Models & Miniatures" — a 2005 featurette focusing on the model effects in the film
• "Dune Costumes" — a 2005 featurette looking at the elaborate costume designs seen in the film
• Eleven deleted scenes from the film, with a 2005 introduction by Raffaella de Laurentiis
• "Destination Dune" — a 1983 featurette originally produced to promote the film at conventions and publicity events
• Theatrical trailers and TV spots
• Extensive image galleries, including hundreds of still photos
• "The Sleeper Must Awaken: Making Dune" — a brand new feature-length documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures exploring the making of the film, featuring dozens of new and archive interviews with cast and crew
• "Beyond Imagination: Merchandising Dune" — a brand new featurette exploring the merchandise created to promote the film, featuring toy collector/producer Brian Sillman ("The Toys That Made Us")
• "Prophecy Fulfilled: Scoring Dune" — a brand new featurette on the film's music score, featuring interviews with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro, and film music historian Tim Greiving
• Archival interview with star Paul Smith, filmed in 2008
• Archival interview with make-up effects artist Christopher Tucker

"Dune" is now available on 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray from Arrow Films.