Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune is considered one of the greatest and most influential science-fiction novels of all time, with many citing it as doing for sci-fi books what Lord of the Rings did for fantasy novels. But for several reasons, Herbert’s dense, multi-layered epic has had a very rough time translating into live-action. In the mid seventies, Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to make an ambitious ten-hour version of the novel that, despite many high profile people being cast, never saw the light of day. Jodorosky’s aborted vision for the film ended up being the subject of last year’s terrific documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.
A film version of Dune finally made its way to theaters in 1984 from Eraserhead director David Lynch (who famously turned down Return of the Jedi to make it) but his version was severely cut and tampered with, and the movie was a critical and commercial flop upon release. Lynch now disowns the movie, and pretty much refuses to talk about it. An extended television cut was produced, with many scenes not in the film, but Lynch had his name removed from it, and whenever it’s shown on television, it’s one of those infamous “Alan Smithee” films. There are also several deleted scenes not in either version which have been floating around for years.
Nevertheless, Dune still has a sizable cult following, and now fan and editor Michael Warren has combined the Lynch theatrical cut, the extended TV cut, and the deleted scenes into a single, somewhat more functional movie, which he’s titled Dune: The Complete Saga.
You can see Warren’s entire three hour cut of the film below:
It remains to be seen if Dune and its sequels will ever have a truly great adaptation; there was a 2000 Syfy Channel mini-series, which, while more coherent that Lynch’s film, still suffered in the acting department and looked cheap. Considering in many ways Dune is as complex and labyrinthine as Game of Thrones in terms of its narrative, maybe one day HBO will tackle Dune as multi-season series. It might be the only way to ever truly do the novel justice on screen.