The New 4K Transfer of David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ : Behind the Scenes

Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic ‘Dune’ was published in 1965. The first film adaptation was helmed by Oscar-nominated director David Lynch in 1984. Lynch’s ‘Dune’ was met with mixed reviews and failed at the box office, but nearly 40 years later has emerged as a cult film favorite. It was recently announced that it’s getting a 4K remaster, coming this August.

I had the opportunity to interview Mark, the creator of the fan site Dune – Behind the Scenes, to discuss the new 4K release of David Lynch’s 1984 ‘Dune.’ Mark hails from Leeds, England and runs one of the original and most enduring Dune fan sites. He gave me an exclusive look into the process of producing the definitive 4K version of Lynch’s 1984 version of ‘Dune.’

DC: You’ve been active in the online fan community for quite some time. How did you first get into ‘Dune’ and what inspired you to start your website, Dune – Behind the Scenes?

Mark: My first introduction to Dune was the Dune computer games, Dune and Dune II. When I was 17, David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ was shown on Channel 4. It wasn’t what I expected, but something about it hooked me and like many Lynch films it’s strange and beautiful. When I went to university I began reading the books.

DC: What does David Lynch’s Dune (1984) mean to you?

Mark: Alejandro Jodorosky said that his ‘Dune’ wasn’t a failure, it just wasn’t made. In some ways the same is true for Lynch’s ‘Dune.’ The film that we see is not 100% Lynch’s vision. Yes, there’s been the deleted scenes and the TV edit, and people have tried to put it together, but we will never see Lynch’s ‘Dune.’ What is there, is a tantalizing glimpse of his vision. It’s like the statue with no arms, Venus De Milo. People don’t say that statue is awful because it has no arms, they appreciate it for what remains. Years ago, someone online said they love David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ for what it is, not hate it for what it’s not. That captures exactly for me my feelings toward Lynch’s ‘Dune.’ Yes, it’s got a lot of problems, some special effects don’t hold up anymore, but some set design, characters, costumes, music–there is lot in there to like.

Dune (1984) 4K UHD Blu-ray case with original movie poster design.

DC: When and how did you find out about the plans to remaster Lynch’s Dune to 4K?

Mark: Koch Media, based in Germany, contacted me in late 2017 about their plans to do another version of Lynch’s ‘Dune.’ Two years later, they started the process. The delay could have been their trying to find the assets. The new transfer is from the original film negative which they thought was located in Rome. Technicolor Italy had gone bankrupt and the negative had been transferred to Los Angeles. They were finally able to locate it there. The original negative was not spliced together. All the segments had to be ordered, scanned it and digitally edited together and any of the fades or transitions had to be redone.

DC: That sounds like a lot of work. Koch Media is putting a lot into this new release.

Mark: I was impressed. Koch has really gone to town on this project and I’m really happy about that.

DC: Do you know which elements of the film will be restored or enhanced?

Mark: The English audio is the original 5.1 DTS mix that has been used on previous Blu-ray. They also did a new mix for 5.1 German audio track.

DC: Which extras and bonus features are you the most excited about?

Mark: I’m most excited about the Limited Edition set which includes the booklet ‘The Design of Dune.’ Arrow films asked me to pick the images and write the captions for that book. That’s something I’ve had strong input on, so I’m looking forward to that.

Cover of behind-the-scenese book from Dune (1984) 4K Special Edition Blu-ray.
Imperial Throne Room concept art

DC: David Lynch has made it clear he has no interest in continuing his involvement in ‘Dune.’ Are you aware of any reaction from David Lynch regarding the 4K restoration?

Mark: Koch Media did reach out to David to see if he would approve the transfer, but he wants nothing to do with ‘Dune’ sadly. That was to be expected, but they did at least try to get him involved. I think he doesn’t think of it as his movie anymore. There was interview in Twilight Zone magazine after the release of Blue Velvet. He said they were going do a TV edit of ‘Dune’ to make it right, and he seemed really positive about revisting ‘Dune’ and fixing it. But for whatever reason, possibly money or he didn’t have final control, Lynch had his name removed from the TV edit.

Original sketch from Design of Dune special edition 4K UHD Blu-ray.
Spice Factory concept art

DC: With Denis Villeneuve’s new Dune’ movie coming out this year, we’re seeing increasing interest in the books and previous adaptations. For people who are learning about ‘Dune’ for the first time, what’s your personal advice on the best place for new fans to start?

Mark: It has to be the original book by Frank Herbert. It’s not the most accessible book for some people, it’s 600 pages with the appendices. But if someone is interested in Dune, I recommend the book first. Next, I would possibly recommend the TV miniseries in 2000 with Alec Newman. It has it’s problems as well. It is a little bit stagy and the special effects haven’t held up very well. But it’s a reasonably faithful adaptation. But I would eventually nudge them to watch Lynch’s ‘Dune.’

Original concept art from the Design of Dune book included with Dune (1984) 4K Blu-ray Special Edition.
Atreides Ornithopters

DC: To whom would you recommend the 1984 film?

Mark: As long as it is not someone’s first introduction to ‘Dune,’ I think everyone should see David Lynch’s ‘Dune.’ Despite being a divisive film, I love it for what it is and not hate it for what it’s not. People can complain about the ending with the rain and the weirding modules, but it really does try to be faithful to the book, it just doesn’t have the run time to achieve that.

Original Castle Caladan concept art from the Design of Dune book included with Dune (1984) 4K Blu-ray Special Edition.
Castle Caladan concept

Despite how you might feel about Lynch’s ‘Dune,’ it holds an important place in the history of ‘Dune’ fandom as the first completed feature film version of Herbert’s novel. It may not have been a commercial success in 1984, but 37 years later it has proven to be an enduring, sweeping vision of the science fiction classic.

Original Spacing Guild Heighliner concept art from the Design of Dune book included with Dune (1984) 4K Blu-ray Special Edition.
Spacing Guild Heighliner concept

Now you can experience this film in the highest quality picture and sound. Limited editions will be available starting at the end of August 2021, for both Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD. The latter will come in several versions, including 3-Disc SteelBook sets. Note that ‘The Design of Dune’ booklet is exclusive to the “Deluxe” SteelBook release (currently available via Zavvi).

Dune (1984): 2-Disc Limited Edition [Blu-ray] Pre-Order Blu-ray on Amazon

Dune (1984): 3-Disc Limited Edition SteelBook [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray] Pre-Order 4K UHD on Amazon

Dune (1984): 3-Disc Limited Edition Deluxe SteelBook [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray] Pre-Order 4K UHD on Zavvi

 

The 4K Ultra HD disc is region free and all of the Blu-rays are dual Region A/B.

This article was originally published on Dune News Net.

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