Dune (John Harrison, 2000, USA/Canada/Germany/Italy)

George Romero associate John Harrison’s 2000 three-part miniseries adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune arrived at a time when cable networks were undergoing a Renaissance in terms of production level. Made for an estimated 20 million dollars, Dune was the Sci-Fi Channel’s biggest budget project up until that point, and to this day remains their most viewed series. The project was clearly an elaborate production, shot on multiple sound stages at Italy’s legendary Cinecitta studios, as well as in the Czech Republic (most of the film’s credits are Czech). 
The 2000 adaptation of Dune stands in stark contrast to David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation. With the extended length to work with, Harrison is allowed to explore more of the novel and its subplots, and thus Frank Herbert’s Dune has been praised for its greater level of accuracy. Lynch was forced to compress large portions of the book using voiceover, and the terminology of the Dune universe was often left unexplained. Here the opposite is the case, and Harrison takes time to go into depth on each aspect of Herbert’s universe.
The result is a project that, while objectively more accurate than Lynch’s adaptation, is somewhat less interesting and dynamic. The series becomes boring at times, bogged down in the endless political intrigues and infighting. There are too many scenes of people deliberating in board rooms. Some of the casting is also strange. Alec Newman seems too old to be playing Paul Atreides, and his arrogance seems odd. William Hurt is a fine actor, but his performance here as Duke Leto Atreides feels lethargic. An exception to this is Ian McNeice, who plays Baron Harkonnen excellently.

Additionally, time has not been kind to the special effects in this adaptation. It is hard to believe that some of the effects would have even been convincing for a TV audience in 2000. Frank Herbert’s Dune is, like Stephen King’s The Shining, another testament to the fact that just because an adaptation is more faithful, does not necessarily mean it will be better.

5/10

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