Well! Just finished watching your edit of DUNE and I have to say, the is now THE definitive version for me. I think you’ve done a brilliant job here, considering what you had to work with.
First off, I have never seen the extended version. I had kind of avoided it, as I’m not the biggest fan of putting material from the cutting floor back into a film to create a so-called ‘extended version’ (Gladiator is a prime example of this), unless is it a change authorised by the director (but, then again, uh… take the Redux version of Apocalpyse Now - oh dear). However, I felt that the additions you’ve made here only serve to give an epic film an even grander scale. It was tastefully done, I felt, and the inclusion of more dialogue gave the film a more well-rounded feel. I particularly enjoyed seeing more of Stilgar; really like the way Everett McGill plays it.
I only watched the Blu ray version a few months ago for the very first time and hadn’t picked up on most of the issues you’ve highlighted in your edit, save the obvious contrast issues with the composites. It’s always had the worn 80’s sci-fi look about it. But I’ve just gone back and played the 2 versions (original, and yours) side-by-side, to look at the edit differences. And it is shocking. The Bluray is far too dark, for one thing. And your sound mix is also far richer.
The dialogue edits were also tastefully done. A snip here and there, and it all just comes together nicely. Likewise, the opticals: exchanging desert shots for more realistic ones, for example, and even the addition of wire mesh to the windows of Piter’s cable car. A small detail, perhaps easily overlooked by the casual viewer, but as a completionist, I thought it was an inspired bit of work! You also did your best to equalise the various contrast issues with FX elements. And Paul’s fall from the cliff was, as you said, comical. I’ve always been annoyed by how far it went on, like a Warner Bros cartoon, so good edit there.
I truly loved the replacement of the score at the end of the film with the ‘Final Dream’ piece, though. That did it for me. Really packed an emotional punch, that. It really pumps up the whole messianic ending.
I’d only mention a couple of criticisms:
The colour grading throughout was expertly done. But I found the brightness in your edit was a touch too high, which created a bit of a washed-out look to some scenes. Again, working with the source material you had, I think you did the best you could there. I think maybe I’ve been spoiled by films in a 4K HDR scan!
I wasn’t too keen on the expanded section during the arrival at Arrakis. The dialogue spoken over the newly-added, and beautiful, desert shots just repeated stuff we’ve already heard earlier in the film - in much the same way as that infamously unnecessary scene with Jabba in Star Wars ANH SE. I defo preferred the original cut: short and to the point. But it’s a personal preference, as I say.
The dialogue in the final fight scene between Paul & Feyd was very echoey on your edit, and was lost a little in the sound mix. Again, the original’s mix wasn’t that great either, but in this version it was quite jarring. Your addition of the chanting/drums, however, was absolutely spot-on. (The dialogue did fade under the weight of the music on a few other occasions, but I can’t specify where).
Personally, I would also have edited out as much of Paul Smith’s over-the-top ‘villainous’ laughter as possible 😉
To sum up: a LOT of work has gone into this edit, and it really REALLY shows. Your attention to detail is to be commended, sir. But it has certainly highlighted one thing: this film needs a proper restoration from the negative. And it deserves it, too. It’s a cult classic, right up there with Blade Runner, I’d say. Not only because of the dated FX shots, the colourisation, and the lighting. But also the completely out-of-focus/blurry shots scattered throughout the film. If David Lynch isn’t interested in doing a revision of this particular work (which I very much believe is the case), then I think you should definitely be involved with whoever takes it on, even if only as a consultant! Hats off to you, sir, and thanks again! 😃 pw