Arrow Video’s ‘Dune’ Re-Issue Is Imperfect But Entertaining

Courtesy: Arrow Video

Much has been made of the latest cinematic adaptation of author Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune over the course of the past year plus.  It was originally scheduled to make its theatrical debut in 2020, with multiple pushbacks as a result of the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Now later this year, the movie will apparently finally get its long awaited debut, too, just before Halloween.  If in fact the movie finally makes its way to theaters nationwide, it will not have been the first time that Herbert’s novel has been adapted for the big or even small screen.  Its most recent adaptation was a made for TV version that aired on television in 2000.  That rendition was followed up in 2003 by the sequel, Children of Dune.  Both mini-series aired on the old Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy).  Much as with the original theatrical version from 1984 that was helmed by David Lynch, the 2000 and 2003 mini-series has led to plenty of division among audiences.  Viewers either loved it or hated it.  There was no middle ground.  Speaking of that 1984 version, it will receive an expansive re-issue Tuesday in the form of a 4K UHD/Blu-ray box set.  If research is correct, the last time that the landmark 1984 version was released on any format was in 2011 on a single-disc Blu-ray presentation with limited extras.  The new, forthcoming re-issue from Arrow Video is overall, a large step up from that presentation.  That is due in large part to the expanded presentation in this case.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the expanded presentation is unarguably a positive, the bonus content that features with the new re-issue is a mixed bag.  It will be discussed a little later.  Considering the overall presentation in the movie’s forthcoming re-issue, its pricing proves important in its own way to the whole of the presentation in a mostly positive fashion.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the forthcoming Dune 4K UHD/BD combo pack re-issue.  All things considered, they make this re-issue a mostly successful presentation, despite its concerns.

Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/BD re-issue of the David Lynch-helmed 1984 cinematic adaptation of Dune is an interesting new presentation of the landmark movie.  Its presentation here stands out in part because it is expanded from the movie’s previous release.  Instead of just being available on Blu-ray, it is also presented here on a 4K UHD platform.  For those who don’t know, the picture quality on 4K UHD is an enhancement from that of Blu-ray.  That is because of its pixel rate.  Now that is not to say that the Blu-ray presentation’s visual quality is bad.  It is impressive in its own right in comparison to the movie’s original analog presentation.  The picture is much better. 

Keeping all of this in mind, it plays into the related topic of pricing for 4K UHD technology.  4K UHD players and TVs are far more expensive right now than Blu-ray players and standard monitors.  To that end, consumers who cannot afford or do not want to pay the currently exorbitant price for that 4K UHD hardware can still enjoy this classic sci-fi flick in a positive visual presentation even on Blu-ray.  Those who have actually turned out the money for 4K UHD hardware can enjoy it on the already impressive Blu-ray presentation and on the even more enhanced 4K UHD presentation.  So to this end, the dual visual presentations ensure that audiences on either side of the BD/4K UHD discussion will benefit.

While the dual 4K UHD/BD presentation of Dune in Arrow Video’s new re-issue is a strong positive for this re-issue, the manner in which the movie’s companion bonus content is presented here is more problematic.  Arrow Video has spread the movie’s bonus content (new and old alike) across the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs.  Two new feature-length audio commentaries are presented on the 4K UHD disc along with a variety of “older” cast and crew interviews from the early 2000s.  Meanwhile, the Blu-ray presentation features a new interview with members of Toto, which composed the movie’s score, and a new interview with make-up artist Gianetto de Rossi, which was filmed in 2020.  The new interviews are complimented by a pair of archived interviews with other members of the movie’s crew.  The interview with Toto’s members is interesting in that audiences learn it was the first and only time that the band had ever scored a movie’s soundtrack and that Lynch had told the band that working with them was, in hindsight, one of the few things he enjoyed from the movie.  The interview with de Rossi, meanwhile, offers a lot of insight into the movie’s creation.  Thankfully, the subtitles – de Rossi speaks entirely in Italian during his interview – that he was very picky about how he did things, and that one of the cast members even received a minor injury because the cast member did not listen to him in one particular scene.  He also reveals through his discussion that he enjoyed working on the movie for the most part, though in hindsight, he felt the movie really did not end up reaching its potential, which is interesting.  That is interesting, again, because he said himself that he enjoyed working on the movie and with the cast and crew.

On a similar note, the archived interview with Production Coordinator Golda Offenheim (recorded in 2003, prior to her passing only years later in 2008) offers similar thoughts.  Offenheim reveals during her interview that she also was not a fan of the movie, nor was she a fan of most of David Lynch’s work.  Ironically, she admits in her interview that she enjoyed working with the cast and crew, even saying there was a positive sense of camaraderie among them.  As if that is not enough, that she leaves viewers (and her anonymous interviewer) hanging on a number of topics, including the fate of a bus used by the cast and crew that went missing, and certain details about the cast and crew.  One cannot help but wonder what knowledge she took with her from that interview.  That alone makes for so much more interest in this interview along with everything else discussed.  Simply put, her comments and those of de Rossi showed that clearly there was some discord among the cast and crew behind the scenes.  That is proven even more with the archived interview with star Paul Smith.

Smith reveals in his interview that one of the scenes that he wanted to do was cut out of concerns about him and crew members being accidentally electrocuted.  He also reveals that he was initially the first choice to play the Baron, but his own refusal to put on extra weight for the role resulted in him playing another character, the Baron’s nephew.  Smith openly states in his interview that he outright refused to gain the extra weight needed for the role of the Baron because he did not want to put his health and life in that kind of danger.  It is just another example of that noted discord behind the scenes.  Interestingly despite everything that obviously went on behind the cameras, the 1984 adaptation of Dune has still gone on to become a cult hit, even though it may not stick entirely to it literary source material.  By comparison, the two TV mini-series that aired in 2000 and 2003 on Sci-Fi Channel stayed closer to their source material but still looked awful.  So again, the 1984 version suffered from its own problems behind the lens, but still ended up being better than the 2000 version and its sequel.

Adding even more to the discussion here is the bonus booklet that accompanies the re-issue.  Whether audiences own 4K UHD or Blu-ray hardware, viewers on both sides of that divide will get to take in so much content spread across the 60-page publication.  From the movie’s place in the bigger history of science fiction on the big screen, to the bigger message of Herbert’s novel, to even the movie’s sound effects and more, the booklet offers in-depth discussions of so many topics.  One could actually argue that to at least a point, that breadth and depth of information makes up for the division of the bonus content on the set’s two discs.  Keeping that in mind, it helps further enhance the set’s presentation.

Getting back on track, the bonus content featured on the movie’s Blu-ray presentation is, again, unlike that presented in the re-issue’s 4K UHD presentation.  This is where the matter of cost comes back into play, but not in a good way.  While those with 4K UHD players and TVs will be able to take in the bonus content on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs, those with Blu-ray players and standard TVs will only get to take in the bonus content on the Blu-ray disc.  Again, the new content featured in the 4K UHD content includes two new feature-length audio commentaries along with a variety of archived interviews.  Not having access to that content, means those with only Blu-ray players and standard TVs are being short-changed.  4K UHD players and TVs are, again, largely cost restrictive in comparison to Blu-ray players and standard HDTVs right now.  That means that while yes, some consumers do own that more expensive content, most do not.  So in separating the bonus content out in such fashion means that Arrow Video is really shooting itself in the foot here so to speak.  To that end, it makes the movie’s bonus content positive and negative all in one.  Keeping in mind the positive role that the movie’s presentation on dual formats plays and the role of the divided bonus content here, this latest re-issue of Dune largely proves entertaining but largely imperfect.  Even with all of this in mind, there is at least one positive left to note here.  That content in question is the re-issue’s pricing.

The average price point for Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/Blu-ray re-issue of Dune is approximately $42, rounding up the number to a whole.  Now considering how expensive most 4K UHD discs are by themselves, that seems a bit hit, and that would be right.  However, that the movie’s 4K UHD is presented alongside a Blu-ray presentation of the movie, that number makes more sense.  What’s more, the most commonly occurring price for the re-issue – through Amazon, Walmart, and Target – is $34.99.  That is an even more affordable number, considering the breadth and depth of the content featured in this re-issue.  Best Buy’s listing is right at the average, at $42.99.  Books-a-Million, the only other major retailer that lists the re-issue, has it listed far above the average at $59.95.  So looking at all of these prices, it becomes clear that the pricing for this re-issue is in fact largely positive and will not break anyone’s budget.  Even with the concerns raised through the bonus content’s division, that aspect and the movie’s dual presentation works with the bonus content to a point to make this re-issue imperfect but still mostly engaging and entertaining.

Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/Blu-ray presentation of Dune (1984) is an interesting new offering from the home entertainment company.  Its primary positive comes in the form of the movie’s dual presentation.  Whether audiences own 4K UHD hard ware or Blu-ray players and standard TVs, viewers on both sides of that divide can enjoy this classic movie with full clarity on either platform.  Now while that dual presentation is positive, it also widens the divide.  That is because the new and archived bonus footage is split between the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs.  Not everyone can afford the more cost restrictive 4K UHD hardware, and those people are relegated to only watching the Blu-ray’s bonus content.  Keeping that in mind, the division of the bonus content detracts from the set’s enjoyment to a point.  On the other hand, the extensive information shared in the set’s bonus booklet makes up for that shortfall at least to a point.  Even with that in mind, the division of the bonus content cannot be ignored.  Even with the concerns raised by the bonus content in mind, the set’s pricing proves to be its own positive.  It proves cost effective regardless of whether viewers have the noted 4K UHD hardware.  Maybe one day when and if that hardware becomes less cost restrictive, then it will become even more of a positive.  In the meantime though, it still proves at least somewhat positive.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of Dune imperfect but still entertaining.  The presentation is scheduled for release Tuesday.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at:




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