* * * B
In 2000, Dune, the novel by Frank Herbert, which may well be the greatest science fiction novel ever written, was brought to the small screen in a 5 hour miniseries. The 1984 film by David Lynch, while it captured some elements of the book well, was seriously flawed. A remake was a chance to correct the mistakes made by the earlier attempt and to capture the essence of the book. I’d say the miniseries is a partial success.
The greatest flaw of Lynch’s film was its failure to capture the Fremen culture. All of the major events of the middle of the book were faithfully reproduced, but the feeling of this brilliantly realized people was lost. The miniseries, while bungling some of the details (Paul’s seitch name, Usal, is gone; the Fremen phrase “Lisan al Gaib”, the voice from the outer world, is mistranslated as “Mahdi”, which actually means messiah), gets the gestalt much righter.
There were a few things I disliked. The acting was good, but not nearly at the level of the film. The same can be said of the sets and costumes. In the first act, Paul was much more sulky than he is in the book. The princess Irulan was made into a major character (in the book, she is merely the narrator). The music was uninspired, the major action scenes jumbled. Sadly, the film and the miniseries are like the two broken halves of the whole.