DuneStuff - Dune Movie Merchandise
VIDEO & AUDIO


"A World Beyond Your Experience,
Beyond Your Imagination":
A Case for the Misunderstood Sci-Fi Classic
MERCHANDISE 
COLLECTION PAGE

 
VHS
LASERDISC
BETAMAX
DVD
CED
 UMD
VHD
HIGH DEFINITION
VCD
AUDIO

 
All video listings are categorized by video format, and then arranged into chronological order of release (to the best of my knowledge). Oldest releases are first within each category. Newest releases are last. 

 
VHS


MCA Universal Home Video pan & scan VHS tape (USA, NTSC). 2 hrs. 17 minutes. Half of the photographed image is missing because the tape has been “formatted to fit your television screen” (How considerate!). It survives the cropping but is practically unwatchable once you’ve seen the film in its proper widescreen ratio. Cover art is the standard theatrical poster with Paul and Chani standing in front of an army of Fremen. The tape originally included a small booklet with a glossary of terms used in the story (reprinted from the index to the novel), but I have since lost the booklet. The tape has Dolby Surround audio.


MCA Universal Home Video remastered “Widescreen Edition” VHS tape (USA, NTSC). Contains the original theatrical trailer. Properly letterboxed to the 2.35:1 ratio. Excellent transfer, better than the Japanese laserdisc box set, however the tape experiences a bizarre anomaly approximately 100 minutes into the film. Footage is photographically flipped for almost 15 minutes and in one spot has been cropped on three sides of the screen and shifted off-center to the right. Dolby Surround audio..


 
BETAMAX

MCA Home Video Beta Videocassette (USA, NTSC). The packaging is identical to, but smaller than, the VHS cover. Audio is Beta Hi Fi Stereo Surround. The box cover boasts that, “This videotape has been digitally mastered onto Hi Fi and digitally mixed from the original master analog tapes. This videotape has been recorded in stereo with a BETA HI FI (AFM) soundtrack along with a conventional beta monaural soundtrack.”  I do not have a Beta deck, but the picture is almost certainly pan & scan.


 
CED

MCA Home Video CED (USA, NTSC). Capacitance Electronic Disc. Antiquated video disc technology that uses a stylus needle to read the disc. Most likely pan & scan with poor image quality (I do not have a CED player to verify). Standard poster art on the front of each disc case. The back of Disc 2 has a longer summary of the film’s plot than most other home video editions. Matrixed (non-Dolby) stereo surround. 2 discs.


 
VHD

Tohokushinsha Home Video / Thorn EMI VHD (Japan, NTSC). Another obscure video disc format, the VHD disc is held in a plastic caddy similar to a CED, but is rectangular in shape. The format was released only in Japan. It's intended American debut was cancelled after the market failure of CED. The movie is spread to 2 discs, with the two-moons artwork on the cover of each. I imagine that the picture has probably been cropped for television. Dolby Surround. 


 
VCD

MTV Productions Video CD (Malaysia, PAL). Apparently an official Malaysian import (though it looks like a bootleg), the text on the disc cover is in English but contains the illiterate description, “A place beyond not dream, A movie beyond your imaguntion.” The picture was mastered from a pan & scan source similar to the original videocassette release, with the added benefit of pixelation and compression artifacts inherent to all VCDs. The film is spread to 2 discs and is encoded in PAL video format. The back cover contains a nice color still of the Emperor’s throne in his pyramid fortress.


 
LASERDISC
(Titles arranged in chronological order by release, earliest to latest.)

MCA Home Video pan & scan laserdisc (USA, NTSC). Picture transfer is identical to the original VHS tape. Colors and contrasts are weak but acceptable given the age of the disc, however only the opening prologue and credits are letterboxed. The film is spread to 3 sides in CLV format. Dolby Surround.


Thorn EMI laserdisc (UK, PAL). Early PAL laserdisc release with very cheesy cover art. Pan & scan. 3 sides in CLV format. Run time is approx. 130 minutes due to PAL's inherent 4% speed-up. Analog sound only. The jacket describes the sound format as "Stereo".


King Video / Thorn EMI laserdisc (Japan, NTSC). The picture quality of this disc is by far the worst that I have ever seen the movie look. It has been presented in a pan & scan 1.33:1 ratio, but unlike other editions even the Princess Irulan prologue has been cropped. The movie awkwardly segues to letterboxing for the opening credits, but transitions back to cropping at the same point as other pan & scan releases. The image is washed out and fuzzy, with indistinct dull colors and anemic fleshtones. Large Japanese subtitles clutter up what little of the picture is left after the cropping. The jacket lists a running time of 131 minutes, but this may be a typo (I couldn’t bear to watch the whole thing to find out). Possibly the transfer may be a PAL-to-NTSC conversion of Thorn EMI's UK laserdisc, which would also account for the shorter running time. The collectable value of this disc is found entirely in the jacket design. The front cover contains the two-moons artwork and the jacket opens to a gatefold with a black & white still from the movie. The film is spread to 3 sides in CLV format with Dolby Surround audio. The audio tracks are analog only and sound quite poor; the disc does not contain digital sound.


Warner Home Video laserdisc (Japan, NTSC). Another pan & scan disc with Japanese subtitles. Comes in a similar gatefold jacket to the King laserdisc, but with different lettering over the two-moons artwork and new black & white stills spread across the interior of the fold. A sheet of liner notes in Japanese text has also been included. Listed running time is an even shorter 130 minutes this time. Cropping and picture quality are about the same as the King disc. Again spread to 3 CLV sides with Dolby Surround, but this disc does at least offer digital soundtracks with better audio quality.



 
Comstock laserdisc box set (Japan, NTSC). Contains both the widescreen theatrical cut of the film and the longer (horrible) MCA re-edited version that was prepared for television broadcast only in pan & scan. This was one of the few early officially released home video editions of the abominable TV cut. Both have Japanese subtitles (below the letterboxed picture on the theatrical cut). The theatrical trailer is also included.  The box set has lovely packaging, including a glossy color booklet in Japanese with reproductions of the three major poster designs. The theatrical cut comes in a gatefold jacket with the two-moons artwork on the front cover (the interior of the gatefold is different than the either previous Japanese laserdisc). Each part of the TV cut comes in its own separate single jacket. The picture of the theatrical cut is properly letterboxed but the color transfer, from a print, is weak. Dark scenes look murky and some of the interior shots, especially during the final knife-fight in the Arrakeen palace, have a greenish tint. Both versions of the movie are encoded with Dolby Surround audio.


(Japanese box set photos provided by Nicolas Santini)


Universal Home Video remastered widescreen laserdisc (USA, NTSC). Terrific picture and sound quality. This disc was originally announced to be a THX-mastered title, but the actual release does not carry the THX logo. However, with only a few nit-picking exceptions it is every bit up to those high standards. The flipped footage anomaly from the widescreen VHS tape has been corrected. My only complaints are that: a) The Guild Navigator's "folding space" scene is in very poor condition, with mis-matched color levels from shot to shot, and b) I question the legitimacy of the color enhancement done to the daytime desert exteriors. Scenes such as the first appearance of the Worm have a considerably oversaturated orange hue, while previous video editions had brown tones for the desert. I am not sure whether this was the original photographic intention (it works thematically) or the result of overzealous color correction during the video transfer, but I suspect the latter based on comments from the 1984 American Cinematographer article on the movie.  The film is spread to 3 sides with the final side appearing in CAV format. Contains the theatrical trailer and has both Dolby Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.
 


 
DVD
(Titles arranged in chronological order by release, earliest to latest.)
Universal Home Video DVD (USA, Region 1 NTSC). Picture transfer is identical to the remastered laserdisc with a slight increase in resolution, and an improved richness in color clarity if viewed through component-video connections. Compared side by side, the two releases are very close in quality but the lack of side breaks gives the decisive edge to the DVD, making it the preferred method of viewing the film. The DVD is well mastered with few compression artifacts, but has not been anamorphically enhanced for 16:9 monitors. There is also a fair bit of edge enhancement noticeable throughout the film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio sounds almost as good as the laserdisc. The disc contains the theatrical trailer as well as a few cast bios and brief production notes. Nothing revelatory is contained in this supplement, but the notes are fairly informative. 



 
Infogrames Asia Pacific DVD (Australia, Region 4 PAL). This Australian disc was apparently transferred from the same master as the Region 1 release. Colors are good, and though not anamorphically enhanced the image is reasonably sharp. However, the disc suffers a number of problems in the conversion from NTSC to PAL as well as compression artifacts and is neither as consistent nor as compelling a viewing experience as the Region 1 disc. The primary selling point of the disc is the inclusion of a DTS 5.1 surround track. The audio does indeed sound quite good, but not terribly dissimilar to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. They are both mastered so well that, given the visual problems with the R4 disc, the American release remains the preferred way to watch the film. (Note: Since this disc is an NTSC-to-PAL transfer, it runs at the same running speed as the original NTSC disc; the DTS track does not sync with the video from any of the PAL DVD releases listed below -- Yes, I tried!). Also included are simple animated menus (not found on the R1 disc), two interesting theatrical trailers (there is only one on the R1), and some brief production notes and cast bios with an unhealthy fixation on the love lives of the actors. This DVD requires use of a player that is able to handle PAL format discs with Region 4 encoding.


Comstock DVDs (Japan, Region 2 NTSC). Japan has seen two separate DVD releases for the film, one of the original theatrical cut and another for the Alan Smithee TV re-cut abomination. These are available either individually or packaged together along with Eraserhead and Blue Velvet as part of an expensive David Lynch Box. These DVDs are direct ports of the picture transfers used for Comstock's previous laserdisc box set (see above). Quality is markedly inferior to the American DVD. In fact, picture resolution seems even softer than the laserdisc releases. Audio is Dolby Surround only. The theatrical cut is letterboxed to 2.35:1 without anamorphic enhancement, and the TV cut is pan & scan. Japanese subtitles can be disabled by the remote control. Discs contain the theatrical trailer and some character bios (in Japanese). The most collectible aspect of these DVDs is the packaging. The discs are stored in CD-style jewel cases and each comes with a fold-out booklet with liner notes in Japanese. In the booklets are also a few unique production photos that I had not seen before, including a beefcake shot of Kyle MacLachlan with his stillsuit unzipped. 


Laser Paradise "Paradise Edition" DVD (Germany, Region 2 PAL). This German 3-disc special edition sounds like it ought to be a Dune fan's dream. A new anamorphic remaster with Dolby Digital-EX 5.1 surround for the theatrical cut. A second disc with the TV cut (pan & scan, of course), and a third disc loaded with supplements. Included in the extras are video production featurettes with behind-the-scenes footage, an option to watch the extra footage from the TV cut on its own without sitting through the whole wretched thing, extensive still galleries, production art, text information and proposed storyboards for the failed Alejandro Jodorowsky Dune project, music samples from songs inspired by Dune, recipes for cooking with spice, and much more. All of it's in German, of course, but there is still plenty for English-speaking viewers to look at. The set has two flaws, unfortunately. The picture transfer on the theatrical cut is terrible, absolutely awful. The print used is washed out with pasty colors and excessive dirt and scratches. Worse yet, it's censored! Lines of dialogue have been removed from Princess Irulan's prologue narration and two other scenes have been cut for no good reason. In all, it's unwatchable. It remains a valued collectible, however, for the wealth of information on the supplement disc, even if it is in German. Better yet, the set was released in both a "standard" 3-disc version and a special Limited Edition (only 500 copies!) that included fancier faux-velvet packaging and a sandworm statuette.



 
Pioneer remastered widescreen DVD (Japan, Region 2 NTSC). Another attempt to remaster the movie's video image into anamorphically-enhanced widescreen, this time from Japan. The print Comstock used for this new transfer is indeed better than their previous releases of the title, and it is nowhere near as bad as the German disc, but it is still quite imperfect. The picture is sharp, and with the anamorphic enhancement provides a satisfying sense of detail in the image. However, the print is too bright, has faded colors, and exhibits a nearly constant presence of dirt and age-related artifacts. It is watchable but not nearly as clean or colorful as the American disc, nor is its Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack a match for the 5.1 mix available in Region 1. The same theatrical trailer seen on several previous releases is included, here looking in the worst condition I have yet seen it.



 
Marketing Film "Perfect Collection" DVD (Germany, Region 0 PAL). Here we go again! Those Germans sure must love Dune because now we get a follow-up to the above-listed "Paradise Edition", a new a 4 disc set called the "Perfect Collection", this time from Marketing Film. The set is limited to 5,000 copies. 

Disc 1 - Theatrical Cut
Disc 2 - MCA TV Cut
Disc 3 - Extras
Disc 4 - Soundtrack CD (Polydor edition).

It's all packaged up in an oversized faux-leather book. Also includes a little booklet with a chapter listing, a "collectible" film cel, and a "Retro Filmprogramm" (in German text). Most of the extras are text-based (in German) and seem to be recycled from the Paradise Edition, which in turn were mostly borrowed from numerous popular Dune web sites. 

Image courtesy of www.marketingfilm.com

Finally, a decent anamorphic transfer for the movie! The picture is sharp, colorful, and uncensored. German subtitles can be disabled. This looks absolutely great, and is the best the movie has been seen on home video. Unfortunately, the sound is screwed up. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack's front soundstage is out of phase and the dialogue track has a distracting echo in the majority of scenes. Overall fidelity is also very much inferior to that of the American DD 5.1 or Australian DTS discs. It sounds like a 2-channel sound master that has been artificially processed into fake 5.1. The Dolby 2.0 track on the disc has better dialogue clarity, but is one of the weaker audio presentations found on disc, sounding dull and lacking in bass, plus it goes out of sync during several stretches of the movie. We just can't have it all, can we?

[Note: In my initial review I may have gone a little overboard in describing the DD 5.1 track as "unlistenable". It actually isn't that bad, and I've amended the review, but the track is still certainly a disappointment.]

This "Perfect Collection" is rather imperfect, but it is a notable step forward for the movie on home video. It makes a fine collectible for rabid Dune fans, although the nearly 100 Euro price tag is rather steep. The first two discs from the set are also available in a cheaper "Spice Pack" DVD edition sold separately. All copies are officially listed as Region 2, but are actually non-region coded PAL.



 
Sanctuary Visual Entertainment "Special Edition" DVD (UK, Region 0 PAL). At least in other countries DVD studios are finally starting to treat the movie with some respect. The latest attempt to cater to Dune fans comes in the form of this 2-disc special edition from the UK (PAL format but not region-coded). The movie is again remastered into anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The video appears to be transferred from the same cleaned-up master source as the German "Perfect Collection" disc, but has been heavily filtered and compressed. It is quite soft and lacking in detail in comparison to that German disc, and contrasts have also been dulled. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is OK (the dialogue track has no echo and is certainly not the travesty the "Perfect Collection" disc is), but suffers noticeably from PAL speed-up (most of the characters have chipmunk voices, especially bad during Princess Irulan's prologue) and lacks bass. It also has some noticeable sync issues.

Where the DVD excels is with its supplements on Disc 2. The 35-minute documentary Impressions of Dune is excellent and features brand new interviews with Kyle MacLachlan, Raffaella DeLaurentiis, Freddie Francis and others involved with the original production, plus Harlan Ellison and David Ansen, two of the movie's biggest defenders. The 6-minute Destination Dune, a heretofore unreleased 1983 promotional featurette, is not quite as exciting but does provide an interesting glimpse of the crew at work on set. It also contains of brief look at the excised Caladan garden scene not found in any edition of the movie. The disc also has a 1984 video interview with Frank Herbert, and comes packaged with a booklet essay by Paul M. Sammon (author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner) called Dune: The Filming of a Masterpiece. The essay unfortunately perpetuates the myth of David Lynch's "four-to-five hour rough cut" (what was screened for the crew was a Rough Assembly of raw production footage, not in any way edited; rough assemblies always run excessively long, because they feature multiple takes of the same action and lots of extraneous footage like clapboard markers and flubs). It must also be said that the UK disc has the classiest animated menus of any release of the film thus far.

Although still flawed, this UK edition is another step in the right direction for the movie. Now if only someone could merge up the video transfer from the German "Perfect Collection" disc with a decent 5.1 audio track, we'd really have something.

[Note: I have a new region-free DVD player and have done a more extensive analysis of the UK and German DVD releases since expressing disappointment in my initial reviews. As a result, I have slightly upgraded my review of the UK disc's picture quality, though I still feel that it does not sparkle the way the German disc's video does.]



 
Versatil Home Video "Colecao Definitiva" DVD (Brazil, Region 0 NTSC). Another interesting new entry comes in the form of a 2-disc box set from Brazil. The discs are officially listed as Region 4, but are actually coded for all-region NTSC and will function in any American DVD player. Disc 1 contains the theatrical cut in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Disc 2 has the usual pan & scan TV abomination. Each are held in individual keepcases (also sold individually, if you wish) held in a slipcover box with the two-moons artwork.

The discs appear to be PAL-to-NTSC conversions of the German "Perfect Collection" masters and do exhibit the effects of PAL speedup. New problems with judder and MPEG compression are also evident, but again the quality of the transfer is very good in comparison to the non-anamorphic Region 1 release. The audio has the same dialogue echo problem and overall lack of fidelity as the German disc, sadly.

Supplements are mostly still galleries (lots of book covers from the Frank Herbert bibliography) and production notes in Portuguese text, plus the usual trailers. This "Definitive Collection" is hardly definitive, but is another interesting footnote in the movie's home video history. 



 
Force Entertainment "Collector's Edition" DVD (Australia, Region 4 PAL). Australia gives it another go with this 3-disc set, available in either standard packaging or a Limited Edition metallic SteelBook tin. The anamorphic video and Dolby Digital 5.1 track are direct ports of the UK "Special Edition", which means overly filtered picture and helium-pitched voices ("A beegeeneeng ees a veery deelicut time."). There is also a DTS 5.1 track, which might sound slightly better than the DD 5.1 if it didn't have a mastering error whereby all dialogue comes from the front right speaker rather than the center (subsequent pressings have been corrected, and disc exchanges are available by emailing info@forceentertainment.com.au). 

The supplements on Disc 2 are all copies of those from the UK set, as is the booklet with Paul M. Sammon essay. Disc 3 contains the abysmal TV cut in the usual pan & scan.

The collector's SteelBook tin itself is very handsome. 



 
G.C.T.H.V. "Ultimate Edition" DVD (France, Region 0 PAL). Now we're getting somewhere! This new 3-disc package from France has the best video transfer for the movie yet, superior even to the German "Perfect Collection". The picture from a "nouveau master haute definition" (new high-definition master) is bright, sharp, detailed, and vividly colorful. There's a small bit of edge enhancement around the opening titles, but none at all that I can see during the body of the movie. This is much better than either the UK or Australian special editions. French subtitles are automatically prompted upon playback, and there is no option in the menu to turn them off, but are easily disabled by the remote.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio options still suffer noticeably from PAL speedup and are generally inferior to the DD 5.1 track on the old Region 1 release, but are miles better than the screwed up English audio on the German release. Strangely, there is an audio glitch immediately after the opening credits. Where the voiceover is supposed to say "A secret report within the Guild" it instead hiccups and says "A siscrit report within the Guild". This is present on both Dolby and DTS tracks and is 100% repeatable every time the scene is played.

A French dub is also available in DD and DTS 5.1. With that many space-hogging audio options, you might fear that the video image would be compromised, but that does not appear to be the case. 

Disc 2 contains the usual pan & scan TV travesty. The bonus features on Disc 3 are mostly in French with no English translation, unfortunately. They include several short interview featurettes with French journalists about the film adaptation, the history of the project, and the Alan Smithee recut. A five-minute piece about the restoration work done to the movie seems to focus on the audio remix, and features clips from the film but only played in the French dub. Still galleries for production drawings, behind the scenes photos, poster art, and movie merchandise are interspersed throughout. English speakers will be glad to see the Destination Dune featurette carried over from the UK disc plus the gem of this set, a 1985 French TV interview with David Lynch (in English) that runs about 9 minutes.

The packaging consists of a glossy but nondescript black slipcover with an inner digipak that folds out to a striking desert scene.



 
Spectrum DVD Co. "Ultimate Edition" DVD (Korea, Region 0 NTSC). The excellent French transfer makes its way to Korea in this 4-disc box set. The conversion from PAL to NTSC has left the picture a little filtered in direct comparison, and the image exhibits noticeable and often distracting judder during horizontal motion (especially the first reveal of the Baron Harkonnen's face, which occurs in a left-to-right pan from the doctor to the Baron). The audio is available in English DD 5.1 or DTS, both of which sound about the same as the French disc's counterparts, including the speedup and "siscrit report" glitch. Optional English or Korean subtitles can be disabled during playback. 

The theatrical cut is available on the first disc, the pan & scan TV version has been spread to two separate discs, and the 4th disc contains the supplements. Bonus features include the Impressions of Dune documentary and Destination Dune vintage featurette found in other regions, plus the Lynch interview from the French disc and a vintage 2-minute TV interview with Frank Herbert making its first appearance on DVD. The still galleries of poster art, merchandising items, production photos, and storyboards are also ported over from France, as is the usual theatrical trailer found on most editions of the movie. Most exciting is a brief live performance by Toto (in 16:9 video) of what sounds at first like some incidental music from the movie but segues into a new melody.

The packaging consists of a cardboard slipcover box that holds an unexciting 4-panel fold-out digipak within. The disc's animated menus are kind of generic and play in an annoyingly short loop.

The French disc remains, to this point, the best looking edition of the movie, but this is still a fine DVD and is the best option so far for American viewers who are not region-free. 



 
Universal Studios Home Entertainment "Extended Edition" DVD (USA, Region 1 NTSC). After a long wait, Universal's much-delayed Region 1 special edition remaster has finally been released. Unfortunately, the results are disappointing on most fronts. The video transfer for the theatrical cut, although marginally better than their old non-anamorphic release, is quite mediocre and does not hold a candle to the excellent French DVD from G.C.T.H.V. The video is inferior even to the dull-looking British "Special Edition". The image is dim, soft, dull in color, and is plagued by a significant amount of dirt, speckles, and other age-related artifacts that were cleaned up on most of the foreign releases. Compression issues also leave several scenes (including the opening credits) looking very noisy despite heavy digital noise reduction filtering that has literally wiped away significant amounts of detail from the original picture. For example, during the "Secret Report Within the Guild" narration and Paul's later Filmbook, the picture should have faint vertical striations down the screen to indicate that the images are being viewed on some sort of computer monitor. Those lines are visible on other DVD copies of the movie, but here have been filtered away so that the picture looks smooth but fuzzy. This is a terrible travesty. 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, fortunately, is rather good (it seems to be identical to that on Universal's old release) and has the advantage of running at the proper playback speed, as opposed to the PAL versions.

On the flipside of the DVD-18 disc is the so-called "Never Before Seen!" extended cut of the film. In reality, this is just the same crummy "Alan Smithee" bastardization that MCA-TV created back in 1988, complete with all the cartoon drawings and fake scenes cobbled together from random shots taken from other scenes. What is new about it, however, is that Universal has gone to the trouble of reconstructing the entire thing using widescreen source elements where available, which allows us to see some of the footage Lynch discarded in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio for the first time. The cartoon drawings have merely been cropped on the top and bottom to this new widescreen ratio, and unfortunately there are also a number of shots in the movie itself that have been cropped and/or stretched (an early example being the landing of the Guild ship on Kaitan). The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is significantly inferior to that on the theatrical cut, sounding like a simple stereo track processed into fake 5.1.

The only area where this new release does well is the bonus features, starting with several truly never-before-seen deleted scenes that are genuinely fascinating (some footage known to be shot is still missing, however, such as the Caladan garden scene and a Fremen ritual which are glimpsed in still photos in the Making of Dune book). An introduction by Rafaella de Laurentiis finally puts the myth of the "4 hour director's cut" to rest once and for all. Four excellent featurettes, each 5-10 minutes in length, provide a lot of information about the designs of the film, the special effects, the models, and the costumes. They also contain some terrific behind-the-scenes footage that has never been released publicly before. There is a still gallery with many new on-set photos and production artwork sketches, and a reasonably informative set of production notes.

I would have liked to see the Impressions of Dune documentary and Desination Dune vintage featurette from the British release included here as well, but Universal apparently would not pay to license them. They really should have. The supplemental section is lacking without them.

The animated menus are tacky, but the SteelBook case is pretty slick. Its cover art is growing on me.

I held out a lot of hope for this release. It had the potential to combine the best elements of many previous attempts all into one definitive package, but Universal has let fans down in a big way. What disappoints me even more is that this means their announced HD DVD release will be sourced from the same poor video master. The chance to see Dune in high definition with a transfer as nice as the French DVD was apparently too much to ask for. [Update: The HD DVD comes from an all-new master after all. See details below.]




 
UMD
Sanctuary Visual Entertainment UMD Video (UK). Mini video disc format designed specifically for playback in the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) video game system. This UMD edition comes from the UK and claims to have no region coding (I do not have a PSP to verify whether it will function in an American unit). Listed specs reference a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and stereo audio. I must assume that it is sourced from the same transfer as Sanctuary's DVD edition. The run time is stated to be 135 minutes, which does not correspond with either NTSC or PAL so I'm hoping that's just a typo.

 
HIGH DEFINITION


Universal Studios Home Entertainment HD DVD (USA, All region 1080p24 VC-1 HD [feature] / 480p MPEG-2 NTSC [supplements]). Never before have I been so glad to be wrong. When Universal's "Extended Edition" DVD was released with a terrible video transfer, I assumed that their forthcoming HD DVD would be sourced from the same master. I'm pleased to announce that they've instead struck an all-new high-def master that is clearly superior to any previous home video edition of the movie. Some minor speckles on the source elements are the only disappointment. Otherwise, the disc has a very sharp picture in full 1080p resolution with excellent detail and depth. The colors appear even more accurate than the French "Ultimate Edition" DVD, which remains the high-water mark for Standard Definition but looks slightly duller and oversaturated in comparison. This disc is the new standard bearer for Dune on home video. 

The audio is provided in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 format. Bonus features include everything from the "Extended Edition" DVD except for the wretched extended cut itself. Something tells me they're saving that for a re-release down the line. 

For more details, see my full review at DVDTalk.



 
Opening Blu-ray (France, All region 1080p24 AVC MPEG-4 HD [feature] / 576i MPEG-2 PAL [supplements]). This French Blu-ray release from a studio merely calling itself "Opening" is clearly sourced from the same master as the "Ultimate Edition" DVD from G.C.T.H.V. It has the same "siscrit report" glitch on the soundtrack and a bit of stutter during the zoom in on planet Kaitan. However, the HD transfer plays back at the proper theatrical running speed and has no PAL speedup. The movie clocks in at the correct 2hr. 17min. length and the audio pitch is fine.

In some ways, the video transfer is a little bit better than the American HD DVD, but in other ways not as good. For one, the source elements used for the Blu-ray have next to no speckles or age-related damage. (The edge ringing around the opening title found on the French DVD has also been cleaned up.) The picture is noticeably brighter overall. This tends to give the Blu-ray more "pop" in daytime scenes, but also means that it looks a little washed out. Black levels are elevated in darker scenes, exposing the matte lines around space ships and making grain more apparent. 

Colors sometimes look punchier and more fully saturated. In well lit scenes, the Blu-ray's robust colors leave the HD DVD looking rather drab. On the other hand, in darker scenes (such as Paul's test with the Box), the Blu-ray is blatantly oversaturated and has disconcertingly yellow skin tones. 

The audio on the Blu-ray is encoded in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. It sounds pretty good for a movie from 1984, but the (lossy) Dolby Digital Plus track on the HD DVD is decidely crisper and more forceful, indicating that Universal must have put more effort into remastering the original analog audio elements. An alternate Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also available, but who would want to listen to it? French dubs are likewise included in DTS-HD Master Audio and DD 2.0.

All of the bonus features on the French Blu-ray are encoded in PAL format. Unfortunately, that means they won't function in most American Blu-ray players. According to the menus, Destination Dune and the Lynch interview are here, as well as most of the featurettes and still galleries from the G.C.T.H.V. DVD. But the disc does not include the "Extended Edition" TV recut. The Blu-ray packaging has an attractive variation on the Two Moons poster art, and describes the movie as "Le Film Culte de David Lynch".

On balance, I think I prefer the American HD DVD to the French Blu-ray. However, both discs have their strengths and weaknesses. Either is a very satisfying way to watch Dune



 
 
Marketing Film Blu-ray (Germany, All region 1080p24 AVC MPEG-4 HD [feature] / 576i MPEG-2 PAL [supplements]). This German 2-disc set includes one Blu-ray and one PAL DVD. The packaging is a handsome foldout digipak with cardboard slipcover. 

The movie transfer is a port of the above French Blu-ray with some modifications made to the video. The soundtrack has the same "siscrit report" glitch. Because the French disc looked a little too bright, the German disc authors attempted to pull down the brightness and tweak the contrast electronically. While this means that the image doesn't look as washed out, black levels have been seriously crushed in many dark scenes. The disc still looks pretty good overall, but is missing important details in shadows. 

The Blu-ray disc starts the movie automatically upon loading. It has no main menu (just pop-up menus) and no bonus features. All supplements are found on the accompanying DVD. That DVD opens with a logo for the studio Laser Paradise, and is literally Disc 3 from the "Paradise Edition" DVD set described earlier on this page (the one with the worm statuette). Features are mainly German text pages with production info and trivia. There's at least one making-of featurette (in German), and all of the extra scenes from the longer TV edit isolated on their own (in English, but 4:3 pan & scan). There's also a section for listening to tracks from the soundtrack album.



 
 
Universal Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray (USA, All region 1080p24 VC-1 HD [feature] / 480i MPEG-2 NTSC [supplements]). Universal has finally gotten around to porting its very fine HD DVD release over to Blu-ray. The video transfer is identical, and remains my pick for best-looking edition of the movie. The soundtrack has been upgraded to the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio codec. Bonus features are the same as the HD DVD, except for the addition of D-Box enhancement and a BD-Live connection that offers nothing specific to Dune

Unlike Universal's last DVD, the extended cut of the movie has not been provided here. Nor does the disc contain any of the additional scenes from that cut on their own. 

For more details, see my full review at High-Def Digest


 
AUDIO
Dune Original Soundtrack Recording Polydor vinyl LP. Music by Toto. Traditional poster art on the cover.



Dune Der Wustenplanet Original Soundtrack Recording Polydor cassette tape. German release. 


Dune Original Soundtrack Recording Collector’s Pipeline reissue of the Polydor soundtrack CD. 17 tracks. Liner notes include 6 black & white stills from the movie and one group shot of Toto. Sound quality is hissy compared to modern CD pressings, but displays suitable strength if turned up in volume. Liner notes contain a note of special  thanks to "David 'Pop the Cow' Lynch, who will eternally be our guide to the unknown".


Dune Original Motion Picture Score P.E.G. Recordings 1997 CD release. 30 tracks. Contains many new music cues not found on the original CD, including a demo version of the Main Title. Some wonderful pieces of music are collected here, but unfortunately the audio quality is quite disappointing. Compared to the old CD, tracks are muddy and even more hissy, perhaps due to the fact that twice as much audio content has been compressed onto a single disc. Liner notes include an interview with David Paich, but do not answer the mystery of the “Pop the Cow” nickname from the previous soundtrack release. New soundtrack does not contain the dialogue clips mixed with the songs as done on the old soundtrack.


 
Update!

The mystery of "Pop the Cow" has finally been solved. According to Ron Miller, the film's production illustrator:

The story behind "Pop the Cow" is Lynch's attempt to depict the cross-section of a sandworm. His idea was to have an entire cow frozen and then sawed in half. He got as far as having a frozen cow delivered to a sound stage...but forgot to allow for A. delays and B. the extreme heat that could be generated in a Mexican sound stage, what with both the lights and the climate. The cow not only quickly thawed but, well, shall we say became unpleasantly transformed. Think dead possum in the middle of the road in the summer. Raffaella, responding to complaints from everyone coming even anywhere near the building, saw what was going on and immediately ordered that the cow be removed and disposed of. It took quite some time, however, for the stage to smell right again.


Dune Part 2: Attack of the Giant Sandworms storybook 33 1/3 LP record single (missing Part 1). Children’s adaptation of the movie simplified to remove violent or complex passages. Includes both a small storybook with many stills from the movie and a read-along LP record. The second half of the movie is covered. (I do not have a turntable and so cannot comment on the quality of the vocal reading yet).



Dune: A Recorded Interview audio cassette. A WaldenTapes special edition. Approx. 50 minutes. "A $6.95 value specially priced at $2.95." Promotional interview conducted in 1984 for the Waldenbooks retail chain. The first 20 minutes have an interview with both David Lynch and Frank Herbert regarding the impending release of the film. The remaining 30 minutes concern only Herbert discussing his novels, the theme of messianic leadership in society, and politics. A fascinating discussion that answers once and for all the question of how Herbert felt about the film. He unequivocably states, on tape, that he thought very highly of it. 

EXCERPT
INTERVIEWER: "And you're happy with the film?"
FRANK HERBERT: "Well, I get asked the specific question a lot of times, if the settings, the scenes that I saw in David's film match my original imagination, the things that I projected in my imagination. And I must tell you that some of them do precisely. Some of them don't, and some of them are better. Which is what you would expect of artists such as David and Tony Masters, and I'm delighted with that. I mean, why not take it and improve on it visually? As far as I'm concerned, the film is a visual feast. I would love to have some of the scenes, as stills, to frame and have around me."
 


 
 
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