I forgot entirely that I hadn’t in fact made a post about this edit already. I assumed I had, it’s been so long in the making.
Edit is now finished and released…
This is an expanded Theatrical Cut with updated FX and re-cut sequences. This is to give it a little elbow room by extending or adding a few extra scenes and to render epic circumstances a little more visually epic where I can. It is not an attempt to adhere more closely to the book’s narrative by any means. The book’s fine. The film’s fine. They can be different. It’s allowed.
This edit uses some portions of Mr Smithee’s version, as the additional scenes have been upscaled quite well in it’s particular special edition German release. Well enough to prompt this edit in fact. I have also used a few techniques to further tighten the softened detail in these shots before adding them to the edit (Thanks to TM2YC for pinpointing the version I needed). These clips have been trimmed down a little on occasion, with focus also on the sound design that had some poor choices, so they needed updating to suit the theatrical. It’s all editing fit and finish essentially. The deleted scenes we are all familiar with do not make it into this edit. I believe the quality of the Extended footage used here will not entirely destroy the suspension of disbelief, but those deleted shots really do. They’re not even up to badly encoded VCD quality, so they were never in the running. Plus many of them were crap scenes anyway. Thufir Hawats end scene, for example, was a truly excellent and compelling moment from Freddie Jones, but not so much from Kyle or the overall scene direction. To include it also broke the final act up too much and shifted too far into the sentimental at that stage, considering this is Muad’Dib’s epic moment of eclipsing, then surpassing the dominance of The Guild.
All scene changes and the majority of individual cuts, carried heavy splicing that required clean up or image rebuilding for the frames immediately after, and sometimes before the splice. The splices show in the bottom then top of each frame as they pass through the film gate. In fact they often jump a little in the gate, creating an orientation distortion of the whole image for a frame or two. So I had to resample whatever image data I needed from surrounding frames but also retain the unique details of each frame in question. Many needed bespoke masking shapes and re-scaled pixel nudging etc. There are prints with cleaner splices/frames on other Blurays, but from my research, no picture seemed as sharp and well detailed as this edition - Which is also not smeared with noise reduction artifacting either. Some of the worst dirt instances I have cleaned when I spotted it during the splice clean up, but the many small iterations did not get any treatment, or else this would never have been completed. Plus the fact that fixing clouds of small scale dirt usually destroys far too much granular detail and draws attention any way, depending on your software/expertise etc.
The sound has been tinkered with a lot, mostly by using the the expanded soundtrack score. I made a surround mix and dipped into it when I needed to fix or embellish a scene. An objective review of all formats can tell you one thing about DUNE, it’s audio quality is a bit crap compared to today’s standard. The art and craft in it’s audio creation is spellbinding, but it was seemingly never archived particularly well, and aside from a collection of now refurbished, incomplete consumer sound tracks that don’t always reflect or often even appear in the film, there is no available audio that didn’t come from a circulation print to my knowledge – And no temperature controlled archives are waiting to release a painstakingly re-assembled surround mix from reel to reel master tapes that I’ve heard of. Of course, the centre channel does have some lovely quality in the dialogue and foley etc for the most part, and the left and right front channels are pretty good generally. I’ve never handled a DUNE 35mm print and I don’t know if it had a 70mm edition or if it played in the handful of cinemas at the time that could play back surround channel sound or in which formats etc. But the crumbling rear tracks sound as though they were taken from well used magnetic strips that have left it’s best on projector playback heads across the world etc. But I digress. I’ve done what I can with it from what was available to me.
The grading has been changed to rid it of the ruddy skin tones and steely blue hues. It is far more akin to the very dark edition that many have commented on in the Bluray forums, but of course this edit has shadow detail and a more rounded palette. The grimy dusty greens of the still suits are retained etc, but the reds feature well enough and the skin tones don’t venture too far into the yellow. For example, The Lady Jessica, The Shadout Mapes or the Baron’s complexions could not each dictate how skin tones are regraded in general, but a compromise is always sought. Overall it looks more like a 35mm print than a typical noise reduced Bluray, so the remaining dirt and fluctuations are in keeping - I did a lot of dirt clean up for specific sequences, but to do the whole feature was never a plan. This print was nearly discarded for it’s dirt, but ultimately was embraced for it’s detail.
I did do a pass through the project at the end to rectify some of the dialogue sync issues. Sometimes these would clash with diegetic or foley sounds and so they were either shifted too, or took second place to dialogue placement if it wasn’t a glaring issue.
I also replaced the ball of cheese moon with something a little more spherical and opaque. Various scenes – no need to list each one below. I’m sure some Lynch fans would prefer I kept the plasticine moon, as it carries his vibe, but it’s composite translucence was a common enough complaint.
Added a longer zooming sound for Irulan’s intro starting in the rear speakers. Also a subtle lick of sitars, surround score mix and Regraded desert footage to lighter, less contrasting tones.
The secret report from the guild graphic was very dirty. The other prints/blurays have a cleaner version of the Kaitain graphic zoom that has suffered from some form of format conversion distortion and the grid lines are visual unstable as they scale up. So couldn’t use any of that. I used the dirty Bluray I started with, that at least carries far more detail in the first place. Frame by frame clean up of the worst offending dirt and the animated portion has been roto-scoped and recomposited in order to stop background/foreground sources wobbling quite so much.
Slightly improved the flicker/desaturation issue for Kaitain landing shot, but without flooding the shot with an obvious tint there’s little flicker software can do with a regulated causal frequency to disperse.
Added surround score mix and clearer sea wave audio to Caladan intro to smooth out the ragged surround audio. Also altered the narration introducing Paul so as to better place the words around the score and to simply introduce Jessica’s “son” without naming him. Made good use of the hovering light unit audio in the left front speaker before the pan to Paul.
Re-composited or reframed all squashed shots on the Caladan ‘Ipad’.
Gurney’s face articulates far too much before saying “Soon we leave…”, So I rotoscoped and tweaked his presence in those few frames leading up to the dialogue and used distortion filters to get his profile to animate less and flow more smoothly into the next shot. It’s not seamless, but it’s far less distracting than before.
Re-cut the training fighter footage and audio to incorporate Extended version shots and dialogue.
Added surround score for the introduction to Leto.
Removed “super being” reference from Gaius Helen Mohiam chastising Jessica in Paul’s room/And from Paul’s echoed thoughts. Added a little re-purposed score.
Added what I could gather and conjure for the surround track mix for ‘The Box’ scene. Removed Jessica’s thoughts of relief when she sees Paul is alive.
Re-composited the elements in the second establishing shot on Geidi Prime (billowing face chimney & approaching cable car) to stabilise and clean it up. Darkened and desaturated Piter’s establishing composite shot and added mesh to his side windows where it had all but been erased by the composite process. Also masked/re-composited & reanimated the wide shot of the cable car entering the building to clean up the gate weave and excessive dirt. Also cleaned up the side shot of his view to the left that used to be paused for a few frames at the cut.
Re-composited parts of the Guild heighliner shot above Caladan to smooth out the optical composite disparities and frame weaving over the first few frames and to remove a couple of Atreides ships to better match the following shot of their approach to the loading aperture. Originally the animators chose to illustrate the ships entering at a different position to that shown in the following shot.
Indeed the following shot needed quite some work too. Dirt dancing all over it, flat contrast and flickering between red and blue hues in an odd non-regimented frequency that simply couldn’t be tweaked with plugins. So I channel tweaked the fluctuations as best I could and cleaned most of the bad dirt without hindering too much detail ect. Now with some contrast, the golden gateway has a lustre to match the shot that this one fades into. Still a little noisy/patchy overall, but better.
The whole folding space sequence, including the arrival at Arrakis, also includes the surround score mix.
The internal shots of the “control rooms of spice gas” are now tinted orange/red and overlaid with footage of bellowing particles/dust/gas including the shots of the navigator whose eyes are also now rendered in subtle blue.
The appearance of the heighliner at Arrakis uses a replacement image of the heighliner. Here there is much more of the original score used in order to add extra desert footage from the ‘Koyanisquatsi’ and ‘Samsara’ art documentaries - the music and desert compliment each other so well I always felt this establishing sequence was far too brief and the shots far too ropey. This incorporates selected narration from the Extended version, culminating in the scenes we are familiar with as we are introduced to the Fremen reverend mother.
Added Duncan Idaho delivering a Fremen message to Leto from the Extended version.
Did a little wire removal for the hunter seeker scene
Added the longer briefing scene after the attack on Paul from the Extended version and placed it before the Inspection trip to the spice harvester. Though here I edit the discussion between Leto and Thufir Hawat to take out just a little of the excessive acting by Prochnow. There are no thoughts by Leto for the audience in this scene. I’ve subtracted the music except for the very end, where it is incorporated from the soundtrack more boldly in order to segue into the 'thoper hangar scene. Also reintroduced some acoustic hums and echoes consistent with the location.
Re-composited the Ornithopter taking off to improve lighting and texture of the craft. Also trimmed some of the green optical artifacting around the rotoscoped 'thopter as it emerged through the house shield.
The first half of the flight out to the spice harvester has been heavily updated. This includes lots of masking and colour alteration to present lighting changes to better tie the cockpit to it’s exterior, the masks create the effect of light and shadow passing across the actors faces signifying movement in orientation, and additional shots are created by compositing interior cockpit windows against new desert vistas from BBC nature documentary footage. There are re-used sound effects, surround score mixing and regrading to bring the sequence up to spec a little. The positioning of the craft and it’s flight path now better illustrates the journey up and over the shield wall - Using a shot that was misrepresented in the theatrical cut that features the crafts’ top and bottom respectively as it passes the camera but as though it were oriented incorrectly in horizontal flight. This is now used aptly to show lift with the addition of a photoshopped matte ‘painting’ of a cliff face animated through the alpha masked windows of the interior cockpit to reveal a plateau at the top of it’s climb. A similar creation is used as they drop into the open desert - replacing the poorly scaled close-up shot of loose sand and sculpted foam-rock that was previously used.
Dr Yueh now only says “My Message…”
The second half of the spice harvest flight is graded similarly to the first half to match the surroundings - casting a dark brown to the previous red tones of the cushioned wall interior and more masking to emulate directional light. The lighting is left a little flatter and brighter as they climb above the thunder of the worm, as their orientation does not change while they watch and the air is cleaner/clearer etc.
The baliset scene from the Extended version is included, and Dr Kines eyes are recoloured blue.
Leto’s thoughts don’t mention the shields after Yueh tranquillises him. The “house shields de-activating” announcement is now timed a little differently as Yueh approaches, so Leto just thinks out loud that “we are wide open”
Thufir’s thought-out-loud over “the weirding modules” does not now include “destroyed”
The Betrayal/Harkonnen attack sequence includes scenes from the Extended version, with repurposed score, audio effects and a little trimming and editing to smooth various parts out and tighten it up a bit.
On the shuttle craft Jessica only says “He’s trying the voice” the rest about the reverend mother’s comments is removed.
When Paul takes control of the craft, I have used extensive masking to knock back the overpowering warm/yellow lighting to a far more neutral colour to keep the control console looking dull and dirty rather than like a yellow submarine. Also the view of the cockpit and the desert from behind Paul, through the front port, now has a much more realistic grading with colours between the composite parts balanced.
The composite shots of the shuttle from behind is now made up from multiple layers seen through various filter settings in order to create a bolder photographic contrast and create more physicality for the craft as it breaks it’s fin squeezing through the rock peaks.
As Paul tells Jessica about his waking dream I take out the specific comments regarding the Emperor and Baron. Also included here is the appropriate portion of the surround score mix to fix the crumbly rear channels.
Introduced bolder lightning in a few shots with a hue to match the colour of the lit surroundings, but left the worm-sign as it is.
Removed the blue screen composite of the stand-ins for Paul and Jessica as they turn to look back to the worm.
Greatly increased contrast and composite colour balance during the cliff crevice worm attack.
Removed some shots of Paul’s fall during the worm’s attack. Cut down the first shot where Jessica starts to shout “Paul” which now is made audible and cuts to her close-up to finish it off, so no more double take. Removed the latter portion of the toppling rock with the obvious chute/slide carved into the reverse, removed the rock painted cushioned landing for the stunt man halfway through the fall, and shortened and improved the speed and colours of Paul against the vertical rear projection as though free-falling. Overall the pace of the fall is less farcical.
The fight with Jamis is included, as is his funeral, The portions of the surround score is used for each respectively and featured again more prominently following these scenes as they stand and view the water cache. Fremen eyes were coloured blue for these added sequences.
The scene where Paul is informed of Liet’s death as Chani passes by is included. The surround score for the next scene comes in much earlier here to augment the audio.
For Jessica’s water of life ritual, there is no thought dialogue from Paul or Leto. It is slightly shorter to achieve this and the slightly different version of the same score is used here from the suite surround mix.
The scenes where Paul shows the Fremen his weirding techniques were damaged in this print. There was a heavy red colour cast to the right of the image for about the length of a film reel, maybe less. Like the splices mentioned earlier, there are prints that don’t have this issue, but I was committed to the consistently higher quality scan from this print. So I had to mask off and recolour these scenes. Which is fun on panning shots.
For the riding of Shai Hulud I included the Extended scene and also introduced a lot of overlaid wind/dust/sandstorm imagery. The palette here also is greatly changed from the original. Gone is the dark orange cartoonish desert – this is more realistic and consistent now. The sky is masked off with a filter layer and now acts/looks like it is the source of diffused light rather than a dirty heavy handed watercolour pigment. It now takes much more of a dusty western look which is almost monotone – this aids the poorly ageing blue screen composites to some degree when they all get onto the worm and rotoscoped hastily. The soundtrack/score is also repurposed and lengthened to create some continuity with the added footage. The dialogue recording for the extended portion sounds poor still with the wind howling metallic through the equipment/tubing they were clutching, but I tarted it up as best I could.
To round off the Shai Hulud Sand riding scenes I painstakingly patched up and cleaned up the gaping worm mouth when Paul pulls up on the reigns. This does not look perfectly smooth and seamless by any means, but is a massive improvement over the scrappy footage I started out with. I’d kick myself if there is a version out there that didn’t need the work doing to it, but I’d be surprised.
The lighter/brighter masked off grading I used for the open desert scenes continue here, but with a little less of a diffused sandstorm vibe when openly fighting the Harkonnens. In a scene where a composite is used for a group of Sardokar running from a burning harvester, I use a large puff of overlayed sand timed with an explosion to mask the lighting division between the foreground rotoscoped composite element and the background footage. Also colour corrected the shot.
The milking of the newborn worm scene is included, but cut a little shorter without the intro. Fremen eyes are coloured blue.
There is some slightly more consistent grading for Paul’s water of life ritual, but most of the changes are audio, where I added the surround mix and remixed portions of the center channel – Notably taking out the Atreides fanfare and inserting more subtle aubible FX. Also rebuilt the two rising moons shot from the film’s trailer in HD and inserted it into Paul’s water of life ritual.
There was more red tint to mask off and recolour for the long live the fighters speech.
Regraded the Harkonnen ship approaching the Palace to balance the composite shot colours.
Repurposed a shot of the shield wall into a partial pan to cue Paul, Gurney and Stilgar trotting down the steps to the control room. I’ve also re-purposed and extended the steadily building score to lead up to this point.
The extra footage of the Emperor talking to the Baron about the defeat of his Sardukar is included. This is re-edited to get it to flow in addition to the theatrical footage and the Baron’s reaction shots.
All of the composite shots of the Fremen on Worms approaching the Emperor’s ship have been heavily regraded to match the lighting and surrounding shots. This often features sandstorms/rifts of cloud & dust etc overlaid on certain shots that helps combine foreground and background colour mismatches. I masked off certain areas and pulled the blues back out of the eyes that the gading greatly thinned out.
The Baron’s exit through the wall composite shot was never cropped properly, but is now.
As the Baron Harkonnen is floating towards the worms mouth, I repaired the score that is interrupted with one of the Atreides fanfares to focus on Paul witnessing the Barons death. This was always jarring to me, but now plays out a little more smoothly.
The Paul/Feyd fight is a sound design mess. There is an awfully truncated/occasional drum presence that was obviously all but abandoned after the drummers’ appearance shot is done with. Also there is a low repetition of notes/tones accompanied by a hiss left over from an attempt at a percussive score or something – doesn’t seem to match the unused Toto score either. It’s interesting how I never picked up on it all until I inspected it closely, and evidently this was all getting chopped and changed at the time with leftovers and quick fixes muddled together on the final release. I stripped out as much bullshit as possible from the 3 front channels – leaving what dialogue and foley was strictly necessary. Rebuilt the drummers’ track as though it were diegetic and featured it prominently in the surround mix after the drummers’ close-up - to then last the whole fight. I then repaired the dialogue reverb from my centre/left/right channel butchery, added the room tones and the crowds outside now chant “Muad’Dib” slowly, and is heard somewhat gently inside getting louder and quieter as the shots require.
After Paul Kills Feyd, the rest of the ending has been completely re-edited and re-scored using ‘Final Dream’ from the expanded soundtrack surround mix and has new sound FX added for wind, rain and thunder. There is a new lightning FX shot in place of the old spindly worm sign effort that touches the top of the palace.
After all that I went back and overlayed footage from the brighter/washed out version - Reputedly from the original French film scan many discs came from in Europe. So this embellishment runs most of the full length of the edit to utilize a little of the luminance from it’s fuller highlight gamut. It’s colours in general are far too vibrant and there is barely any recognisable film grain, but the depth of spacial differentiation in the scan is very good indeed – That is to say that any areas not strictly in focus are not full of sharpened grain to the point you can’t tell what the intended depth of field was supposed to be. It’s sometimes far more glassy to have less grain and fuller tonal ranges, and then it’s satisfying to see the dry grainy detail in other shots. With this overlay I attempted to get the best of both worlds for most shots.
The most notable remaining edit for those interested in context is the removal of Alia’s rather on the nose announcement – It makes the whole event far less irritating.
And yes, as I might have already said - This is some biblical messiah rain bullshit and it’s always played rather well as far I’m concerned, considering the Bene Geserit propaganda element - So really it’s just thousands of Fremen water storage caches entering the ecosystem 😉
I started talking about this edit in my original post as though it would be a theatrical cut with elbow room, and I might have moved a little beyond that, but it’s not too bloated. Also I might have missed a few things in this write up as this project took a “loooong time – a long time…” and it might be a mess of tense as it was added to in fits and starts.
Admittedly, after seeing the final output for this edit, I’m hoping there will be a remastered compilation of sorts from the original sources. The quality of this edit, despite my best efforts just could not compare to such. But this is a pretty watchable touch up.
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