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lark144

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This is starting to trend into "magic UHD button makes everything look like IMAX" territory again.
It's not only that, though that's certainly part of it. I understand that wishful thinking is part and parcel of these threads. That's something I indulge in myself on occasion. Still, some posters seem to think that the initial release prints might have been bad, but the photography wasn't. And yet they used those Todd-A-O 35mm rigs, with soft lenses and poor registration, which David Lynch was totally opposed to but was overruled. There may be a semblance of attractiveness in the lighting and costumes, but digital clean-up, no matter how artfully done, can't hide problematic cinematography. As I recall, there's a very shallow depth of field, and though those background paintings are lovely, they drift, as do the actors. Kenneth McMillian went in and out of focus as he moved from one place to the next in his big scene. And I don't think that was just a poor print. That would make it soft overall, but the focus shifts on him depending where he is. And no, I don't put the blame on Freddie Francis but those crappy lenses over which he had no control. I'm sure he did what he could to minimize the problems. Then there's the continuity issues. I'm not talking about the fact the film makes no sense as edited, which of course is a concern, but the lighting continuity. After it was taken away from Lynch, it looks like a mad slasher was the editor. The lighting and the color changes from one shot to the next. And again, I don't think you can attribute that to a poor print.
 

Gerani53

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I imagine DUNE plays better now than it did in the 1980s, when audiences were obsessed with the kind of feel good, Disneyesque extravaganzas provided by Lucas and Spielberg. Any sci-fi epic that veered from that sort of high-spirited rollercoaster ride was viewed as "not fun enough," so more adult sci-fi fare like DUNE and BLADE RUNNER really didn't have a chance, whatever their merits might have been. Now, with tastes having changed (you can't give away a feel-good experience like E.T. in the hate-me 21st Century), and with Peter Jackson's equally sprawling and poetic LORD OF THE RINGS films having found acceptance, DUNE may be far more satisfying to viewers, especially with this first-class 4K presentation. I'm very much looking forward to re-visiting the film, which I recall being ripe with interesting characters and ideas.
 

JoshZ

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Then there's the continuity issues. I'm not talking about the fact the film makes no sense as edited, which of course is a concern, but the lighting continuity. After it was taken away from Lynch, it looks like a mad slasher was the editor. The lighting and the color changes from one shot to the next. And again, I don't think you can attribute that to a poor print.

Are you referring to the theatrical cut or the TV cut? The film was not taken away from Lynch during production. He was in charge the whole time and the theatrical cut is the only one he completed and approved. When he ran over schedule and budget, Lynch was ordered to stop filming certain scenes and storylines that never went before cameras. And indeed, the narrative of the film is highly compressed and jumpy in places as a result. But I don't know what lighting and color continuity issues you're thinking of. I've seen this movie countless times and have no idea what you're talking about. Can you give an example?

Now, if you're referring to the TV cut, that's an entirely separate animal. The TV cut was assembled without Lynch's participation or approval, and from the result, the work was done by people who had never seen a movie before and had zero understanding of basic film grammar. Shots are repeated endlessly. New "scenes" are cobbled together from mismatched footage stolen from unrelated scenes. Storyboard drawings and production art are inserted as "special effects." It's completely incompetent, and yes, filled with all sorts of continuity problems.

None of that is a reflection on the film David Lynch made and delivered. He took his name off of it for good reason. It's a dreadful bastardization of his work.

Make no mistake, the theatrical cut is a flawed film with plenty of its own issues. But it's certainly not the technical disaster you've implied. The film was shot by Freddie Francis, and edited by Antony Gibbs (Tom Jones, Walkabout, A Bridge Too Far). These were talented, very experienced professionals who knew what they were doing, even if the final product was compromised by decisions the producers forced onto them.
 

Lord Dalek

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Lynch has repeatedly stated in interviews when he's willing to talk about Dune (and that's not very often) that he did not have final cut on the film (the only version he worked ran about 45 minutes longer than what was ultimately released). And in order to have that on Blue Velvet, he had to cut the budget to the bone.
 
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Stephen_J_H

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So, competence is better than incompetence? Yes, I think we can all agree with that.

I have no qualm with Mackenzie or his work, but the fact that a compressionist would have a fan club is baffling to me. Good compression should be invisible to the viewer. As titch stated, Mackenzie's company does no scanning or restoration work. The whole point of his job is to take work that other people do and not degrade it noticeably. If that prior work was poor, there's nothing a compressionist can do to fix it.
Here's the problem. We're seeing a lot of incompetence when it comes to UHD masters, which makes MacKenzie stand out when he should by all rights be invisible. There's a lot that happens between scanning and final product, and compression and authoring impacts all of it. Set the peak bitrate too low and artefacts arise; set it too high and it won't fit the disc required by the product budget. Too much automation? Again, artefacts. This is not simply "pushing a button."
 

OliverK

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So, competence is better than incompetence? Yes, I think we can all agree with that.

I have no qualm with Mackenzie or his work, but the fact that a compressionist would have a fan club is baffling to me. Good compression should be invisible to the viewer. As titch stated, Mackenzie's company does no scanning or restoration work. The whole point of his job is to take work that other people do and not degrade it noticeably. If that prior work was poor, there's nothing a compressionist can do to fix it.
Compression of grainy movies can be tricky and decisions can be made in one direction or another. Nothing wrong with choosing somebody who respects this.
 

JoshZ

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Lynch has repeatedly stated in interviews when he's willing to talk about Dune (and that's not very often) that he did not have final cut on the film (the only version he worked ran about 45 minutes longer than what was ultimately released). And in order to have that on Blue Velvet, he had to cut the budget to the bone.

Lynch didn't have final cut (few directors do), but he did work on the film until the end and signed off on the theatrical release. That's no different than 99% of movies that get released.

He did have to make compromises and changes to shorten the length, as he was under contract to deliver a finished product no longer than 2.5 hrs and Rafaella de Laurentiis pressured him to keep it closer to 2 hrs (and prevented him from shooting some scripted scenes that he needed), but at no point was Lynch removed from the film, nor was it taken away from him until the TV miniseries version that was made after the movie was finished and had played in theaters.

There is no "Director's Cut" in the sense of an uncompromised version of the movie that Lynch is fully happy with, but he was there to supervise all editing of the theatrical release, which is the official final cut and the only one Lynch approved.

The "4-5 hour rough cut" is largely mythical, and was most likely a Rough Assembly of unedited footage strung together in approximate order, including flubs, duplicate takes, and repeated action seen from multiple camera angles. All Rough Assemblies run super long. The movie was never going to be longer than 2.5 hours. That was the maximum length stipulated in Lynch's contract.
 

JoshZ

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Here's the problem. We're seeing a lot of incompetence when it comes to UHD masters, which makes MacKenzie stand out when he should by all rights be invisible. There's a lot that happens between scanning and final product, and compression and authoring impacts all of it. Set the peak bitrate too low and artefacts arise; set it too high and it won't fit the disc required by the product budget. Too much automation? Again, artefacts. This is not simply "pushing a button."

Compression of grainy movies can be tricky and decisions can be made in one direction or another. Nothing wrong with choosing somebody who respects this.

I don't deny that video compression is difficult to do well and that MacKenzie is good at his job. Nonetheless, there's a tendency in forum discussions like this to treat the guy like the Lord God of All Video Mastering ("Oh, David MacKenzie's working on this one? It's going to look gorgeous, 100% guaranteed!"), which seems crazy to me. He doesn't restore movies. He doesn't scan film elements. He doesn't color grade them. It's his job to take a finished video master that somebody else made and put it on a disc so that it looks the same as when it started.

Again, that can be hard work, and some studios routinely screw it up. I get it. I don't mean to disparage the effort he puts in. Still, his is the last step in a long chain of events needed to create a good video image. If he's given a crummy master to start, there's nothing he can do to "fix" it.
 

titch

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This is starting to trend into "magic UHD button makes everything look like IMAX" territory again.
I'll wait and see the final results before making any statements about how it looks. Nobody at this stage knows anything about who has been involved in the process of transferring the film to video. There are usually several companies involved, from scanning the Original Colour Negative, removal of dirt and and other damage, grading the master for both the Rec 709 SDR and Rec 2020 HDR versions, to mastering the data files for the final blu-ray and UHD discs.

Arrow Video's release of Django is an example of their publishing a film title that has never previously looked good on home video, and taking it to a whole new level. The Blue Underground release in 2010 was trumpeted as being transferred from its original camera negative. Reviews at the time praised the colours and the grain. What a difference a decade makes.


Second Sight's Dawn Of The Dead is another example of a low-budget film that came to video recently with an unexpectedly good result. Blue Underground have also produced fantastic 4K UHDs of Zombie and Daughters Of Darkness. So maybe Arrow Video's Dune will look better than it has done before? Despite the production limitations? We won't know until August. I have the region B release based on the Universal master from 2012 and it looks predictably awful in projection.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link. As an Amazon Associate HTF earns from qualifying purchases

 
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JoshZ

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So maybe Arrow Video's Dune will look better than it has done before? Despite the production limitations? We won't know until August. I have the region B release based on the Universal master from 2012 and it looks predictably awful in projection.

The Region B Blu-rays are not based on Universal's master. They're all sourced from an older European video master that was first used for the French "Ultimate Edition" DVD release from Gaumont/Columbia Tri-Star Home Video in 2005 and then for the French Blu-ray from Opening in 2008. The master later made its way to Germany for a host of Blu-ray editions from several different labels. Numerous European DVD and Blu-ray releases (and I own most of them) came from this source. Some look worse than others due to additional digital manipulation.

As it originated on the French DVD and Blu-ray, that master looked washed out with elevated black levels and oversaturated colors. It was very easily identifiable by a stutter during the "A secret report within the Guild" scene after the opening credits, which came out as "a siscrit report" on the soundtrack.

The German Blu-rays attempted to fix the black level problem by pulling down the brightness and jacking up the contrast - the result of which crushed blacks and destroyed any shadow detail throughout the film. They look dreadful, and they all have the "siscrit report" audio glitch. Some of them also added DNR and/or edge enhancement sharpening to really muck things up even further.

The 2010 Universal Region A Blu-ray comes from a completely different video master. It has better color and contrast, and no crushed blacks. It looks much more film-like. The tradeoff is that it also has a fair amount more dirt and speckles on the film elements that probably could have been cleaned up or digitally painted out.

Although distributed by Universal (for a label called IndiVision), the 2012 UK Region B Blu-ray does not use Universal's video master. It looks identical to the German Blu-rays with crushed blacks. However, it does use Universal's 5.1 soundtrack that fixes the "siscrit report" audio issue. The soundtrack is fine and properly says "secret report," but the video is awful.

Until this new 4K remaster, all European DVD and Blu-ray copies of Dune were sourced from the underlying French master, not from Universal's superior American master. The discs in France were washed out with elevated blacks while those outside of France messed with the contrast and crushed the blacks.

To date, perhaps the best copy of the movie was the 30th Anniversary Edition from Happinet in Japan (Region A), released in 2015. That disc used the Universal master but performed a little bit of digital clean-up to reduce some of the dirt and speckling.

I look forward to seeing what the new 4K master looks like.
 

OliverK

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Looks like the latest German release, the Universal Blu-ray and the Universal HD-DVD come from the same master:

The other German version indeed has a black crush:

I was unimpressed with both the US Blu-ray and the HD-DVD and I am sure the UHD will be improved a lot - it will not be that hard to surpass the best version(s) that we have now.
 

deepscan

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22 years ago, there was a web site prepared by a fan that attempted to set the record straight on what changes and alterations were made to the Smithee TV version, why it happened at all, and why we may never get a definitive version of DUNE as Lynch had envisioned. This page and this page will explain it all.

Note that this archived site reflects only what had been issued at the time, before the era of 4K, Blu Rays, and fan edits.
 

JoshZ

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22 years ago, there was a web site prepared by a fan that attempted to set the record straight on what changes and alterations were made to the Smithee TV version, why it happened at all, and why we may never get a definitive version of DUNE as Lynch had envisioned. This page and this page will explain it all.

Note that this archived site reflects only what had been issued at the time, before the era of 4K, Blu Rays, and fan edits.

The rumored longer versions of the movie discussed on the second page of that article were debunked over the years:

"I have also heard of a 140-minute version of the film (some movie guides like Leonard Maltin's excellent annual "Movie And Video Guide" have the theatrical version listed at 140 minutes). My theory is that if it did exist, then David Lynch might have intended to release the standard theatrical version at that length but trimmed it down to its 137-minute state, or it just might be a time error on the author's part. There has also been talk that Lynch put together a rough cut of 175 minutes and wanted to release that before Universal recut the film for theatrical release. I have even heard on the Internet of a slightly longer version that ran in Europe with more violent footage. In any event, there has not been official confirmation of any of these versions either, and therefore I can't count any of them as an officially released version of DUNE. "

The 137-minute version is the only theatrical cut of Dune approved by Lynch or released. There were no longer versions in Europe or elsewhere. Maltin's citation of 140 minutes was either a typo or rounding error. Any alleged rough cut was exactly that, an unfinished rough cut. All movies go through rough cut stages that are longer than intended. It probably had a lot of padding at the beginning and end of shots, redundant takes from multiple camera angles, and unfinished SFX.

More footage was shot, yes. A lot of it ended up in the TV cut. The Blu-ray also has a small handful of additional deleted scenes that didn't make the TV cut. "The Making of Dune" book has still photos from at least two scenes that have never surfaced anywhere, and I have a collection of production Polaroids showing elaborate costumes that were sewn but I don't believe ever went before cameras.

Regardless, Lynch's contract stipulated that the film could only have a maximum length of 2.5 hours. What he signed-off on and delivered was 2hrs 17min. That is the only "director approved" cut of the movie.

Lynch's filmmaking process is to overshoot all of his movies. He likes to experiment and improvise on set as inspriation strikes, fully aware that not everything he shoots will make the finished film. He feels out what works and what doesn't work during editing. Lynch has had right of Final Cut built into his contracts on every movie he has made following Dune. He shot literally hours of extra footage for Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Fire Walk with Me that he could have put into those movies if he wanted, but chose not to. Whole characters and storylines were filmed but left entirely on the cutting room floor. That's just the way he works.

Dune was never going to be a 3- or 4-hour movie. It just wasn't.
 
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deepscan

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The rumored longer versions of the movie discussed on the second page of that article were debunked over the years:

"I have also heard of a 140-minute version of the film (some movie guides like Leonard Maltin's excellent annual "Movie And Video Guide" have the theatrical version listed at 140 minutes). My theory is that if it did exist, then David Lynch might have intended to release the standard theatrical version at that length but trimmed it down to its 137-minute state, or it just might be a time error on the author's part. There has also been talk that Lynch put together a rough cut of 175 minutes and wanted to release that before Universal recut the film for theatrical release. I have even heard on the Internet of a slightly longer version that ran in Europe with more violent footage. In any event, there has not been official confirmation of any of these versions either, and therefore I can't count any of them as an officially released version of DUNE. "

The 137-minute version is the only theatrical cut of Dune approved by Lynch or released. There were no longer versions in Europe or elsewhere. Maltin's citation of 140 minutes was either a typo or rounding error. Any alleged rough cut was exactly that, an unfinished rough cut. All movies go through rough cut stages that are longer than intended. It probably had a lot of padding at the beginning and end of shots, redundant takes from multiple camera angles, and unfinished SFX.

More footage was shot, yes. A lot of it ended up in the TV cut. The Blu-ray also has a small handful of additional deleted scenes that didn't make the TV cut. "The Making of Dune" book has still photos from at least two scenes that have never surfaced anywhere, and I have a collection of production Polaroids showing elaborate costumes that were sewn but I don't believe ever went before cameras.

Regardless, Lynch's contract stipulated that the film could only have a maximum length of 2.5 hours. What he signed-off on and delivered was 2hrs 17min. That is the only "director approved" cut of the movie.

Lynch's filmmaking process is to overshoot all of his movies. He likes to experiment and improvise on set as inspriation strikes, fully aware that not everything he shoots will make the finished film. He feels out what works and what doesn't work during editing. Lynch has had right of Final Cut built into his contracts on every movie he has made following Dune. He shot literally hours of extra footage for Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Fire Walk with Me that he could have put into those movies if he wanted, but chose not to. That's just the way he works.

Dune was never going to be a 3- or 4-hour movie. It just wasn't.
In the documentary “Impressions of DUNE” (which will be on the Arrow set), editor Anthony Gibbs confirms ”David wanted a 3-hour movie, and Dino wanted a 2-hour movie, and Dino won”. So it was Dino that had Lynch bring it down to the 137 min., which reluctantly the latter director approved.
 

Stephen_J_H

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The most substantial narrative cut in creating the theatrical cut was Paul Atreides' killing of Jamis and dealing with the fallout from that event, and was specifically referenced in Ed Naha's Making of Dune book, which I owned as a teenager [have no idea where it is now] which was a very detailed analysis of the filmmaking process, including stories about how the test shots with the sandworm miniature puppets left the crew with "a very large inferiority complex." I suspect this entire narrative element took the film over 2.5 hrs and thus the easiest surgery to perform on the film was to cut it.

I've watched the expanded edition contained in the DVD Steelbook release. It's an interesting curio, but works far too hard at trying to explain Dune to the average plebe, and also neuters some of Lynch's most interesting violence in the film. It's clear why he took his name off it, as it's simply product designed to fill a programming hole.
 

Christian D66

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The rumored longer versions of the movie discussed on the second page of that article were debunked over the years:

"I have also heard of a 140-minute version of the film (some movie guides like Leonard Maltin's excellent annual "Movie And Video Guide" have the theatrical version listed at 140 minutes). My theory is that if it did exist, then David Lynch might have intended to release the standard theatrical version at that length but trimmed it down to its 137-minute state, or it just might be a time error on the author's part. There has also been talk that Lynch put together a rough cut of 175 minutes and wanted to release that before Universal recut the film for theatrical release. I have even heard on the Internet of a slightly longer version that ran in Europe with more violent footage. In any event, there has not been official confirmation of any of these versions either, and therefore I can't count any of them as an officially released version of DUNE. "

The 137-minute version is the only theatrical cut of Dune approved by Lynch or released. There were no longer versions in Europe or elsewhere. Maltin's citation of 140 minutes was either a typo or rounding error. Any alleged rough cut was exactly that, an unfinished rough cut. All movies go through rough cut stages that are longer than intended. It probably had a lot of padding at the beginning and end of shots, redundant takes from multiple camera angles, and unfinished SFX.

More footage was shot, yes. A lot of it ended up in the TV cut. The Blu-ray also has a small handful of additional deleted scenes that didn't make the TV cut. "The Making of Dune" book has still photos from at least two scenes that have never surfaced anywhere, and I have a collection of production Polaroids showing elaborate costumes that were sewn but I don't believe ever went before cameras.

Regardless, Lynch's contract stipulated that the film could only have a maximum length of 2.5 hours. What he signed-off on and delivered was 2hrs 17min. That is the only "director approved" cut of the movie.

Lynch's filmmaking process is to overshoot all of his movies. He likes to experiment and improvise on set as inspriation strikes, fully aware that not everything he shoots will make the finished film. He feels out what works and what doesn't work during editing. Lynch has had right of Final Cut built into his contracts on every movie he has made following Dune. He shot literally hours of extra footage for Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Fire Walk with Me that he could have put into those movies if he wanted, but chose not to. Whole characters and storylines were filmed but left entirely on the cutting room floor. That's just the way he works.

Dune was never going to be a 3- or 4-hour movie. It just wasn't.
I think one problem is that DUNE should not be an overshot improvised experimental film since it's based on a hugely successful novel. That's why Lynch was always the wrong choice, same with Jodorowsky though I would have loved to see his version. I think it's unfilmable.
 

Worth

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I think one problem is that DUNE should not be an overshot improvised experimental film since it's based on a hugely successful novel. That's why Lynch was always the wrong choice, same with Jodorowsky though I would have loved to see his version. I think it's unfilmable.
It will be interesting to see what Denis Villeneuve does with it, but it doesn't seem like something that's suited to a feature film format. It probably would have been better to do it as a Game of Thrones-style series.
 

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