Dune: Complete Collection, Frank Herbert’s (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Jan 31, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Dune: Complete Collection, Frank Herbert’s (Blu-ray Review)


John Harrison, Greg Yaitanes

Release Date(s)

2000, 2003 (December 1, 2023)


Sci-Fi Channel/New Amsterdam/Hallmark Entertainment (Umbrella Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: A
  • Overall Grade: B

Frank Herbert's Dune: Complete Collection (Blu-ray Disc)




[Editor’s Note: This is an Australian REGION FREE Blu-ray release. It features English audio (with no PAL speed-up) and will play normally on all US Blu-ray players.]

In the history of science fiction, there have been a number of high-concept works that cut through the trappings of pulp “sci-fi” (robots, laser guns, aliens) to describe timeless stories of the human condition. Among the best are Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, and Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. As good as any of them, however, is Frank Herbert’s Dune. Set many thousands of years in the future, it’s a simple tale of two great royal houses engaged in a struggle to control the most valuable planet in the universe... Dune (also known as Arrakis). The rightful heir to the planet, young Paul Atreides, is the product of an ancient genetic breeding program. His is more than a political struggle; before the story is fully told, Paul will become Muad’Dib—a prophet who will help the native people of Arrakis to reclaim their world... and help the human race to reclaim its identity. Rich in political, cultural, and ecological detail, Dune won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction and remains one of the most highly-regarded novels of all time.

For years, filmmakers struggled to bring Herbert’s novel to the big screen, with Ridley Scott and Alejandro Jodorowsky each mounting failed attempts. In 1984, David Lynch delivered his take on Dune to cinemas with mixed results. There are many fans of the Lynch film (reviewed here), which features intriguing production design and a fine cast. But in order to jam as much of the story into the film’s 137 minutes as possible, important concepts in the novel were altered or omitted entirely. An expanded, 190-minute “TV version” of the film was later created, but Lynch hated it so much that he asked to have his name removed (the infamous “Allen Smithee” is credited instead). More recently, with the support of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros., filmmaker Denis Villeneuve finally cracked Herbert’s story for the big screen and delivered his terrific Dune: Part One to theaters in 2021 (we’ve reviewed it here), with his first of two continuation sequels, Dune: Part Two, set to arrive in theaters next month.

Frank Herbert’s Dune Miniseries (2000)

But in the late 1990s, long before Villeneuve dazzled us with his vision, producer Richard Rubinstein discovered that the TV rights to the Herbert novel were still available (even as the film rights were tightly controlled by Dino De Laurentiis). He interested director John Harrison (Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, Creepshow) in the project, and the two acquired the rights with the help of the (pre SyFy) Sci-Fi Channel. Harrison set out to adapt the novel as a miniseries and to recreate the novel’s 3-act structure—each act would be told on a separate night of the miniseries. Once the ball was rolling, the production attracted a terrific pool of talent, including actors William Hurt (The Big Chill) and Giancarlo Giannini (Casino Royale), as well as cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor), and composer Brian Tyler (the Fast & Furious franchise, Iron Man 3). The result was an epic and lavish 266-minute production of Dune, one that finally did justice to Herbert’s original novel, and garnered Sci-Fi’s highest ratings ever to that point (in December 2000).

Fans of the Lynch film will probably not warm to Frank Herbert’s Dune. For one thing, it completely abandoned the earlier work’s dark, atmospheric look. Instead, this production is vibrant and colorful. To save money, and to create a unique tone, the entire miniseries was shot on soundstages. Exteriors were done against massive “translight” backgrounds and enhanced with CG visual effects. The result is a feast for the eyes, a highly theatrical style that actually lends itself well to such epic, Shakespearian material.

Very few story changes were made in adapting the novel for television (the major ones are that the character of Princess Irulan, who is the “narrator” of the novel, is a more important figure in the miniseries, and that Paul’s internal monologue has been largely abandoned in favor of a more traditional narrative approach). The cast here is first-rate, including Hurt (Duke Leto) and Giannini (The Padishah-Emperor), along with Alec Newman (Paul), Barbora Kodetova (Chani), Saskia Reeves (Lady Jessica), and Uwe Ochsenknecht (Stilgar). Ian McNeice also delivers a terrific and wonderfully over-the-top performance as the infamous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

Frank Herbert’s Dune was shot on 35 mm photochemical film (specifically Kodak Vision 200T 5274 stock) by Storaro in his own Univisium (3-perf) format, using Arriflex 535B cameras with Cooke S4 spherical lenses. The footage was captured in the 2.00:1 aspect ratio, but was then scanned in 1080/24p HD and finished digitally by LaserPacific in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio in anticipation of future HD broadcasts and Blu-ray, but with visual effects produced digitally in SD resolution and upscaled to save money. (Note that the miniseries was originally broadcast on Sci-Fi in SD resolution.)

Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release is the same disc released in 2021 (reviewed here), featuring the entire three-part miniseries encoded on a single BD-50 in HD. (This is the International Broadcast Version, which is similar to Artisan’s 2002 Director’s Cut DVD save for approximately 5 minutes cut from Part I, a little over a minute removed from Part II, and about 15 seconds removed from Part III.) The quality is decent (though not the best available for this series*), featuring highly-compressed video (with data rates on the order of 12 Mbps) and obvious compression and scaling artifacts, especially in visual effects sequences but often in live action footage as well. Still, the image is very watchable and better certainly that the previous DVD releases. Color is vibrant for 8-bit footage and contrast is about what you expect. The image also looks a bit over-sharpened, which is fairly typical of the post work during this period. Audio on the disc is included in the original English in both 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio format. Both tracks are of very good quality, with clear dialogue, modest bass, and none of the PAL speed-up that plagued the initial BD releases (including the French 2013 Filmedia release and Umbrella’s original 2016 Blu-ray). The surround mix is more atmospheric than aggressive, as TV productions usually are. Optional English only subtitles are also available. There are a couple of special features on this disc, but more on that in a minute.

*The best available video quality for Frank Herbert’s Dune on Blu-ray remains the German Alive AG release from 2014 (reviewed here), which splits the miniseries over two Blu-ray discs and thus offers higher data rates (roughly double, in fact, averaging 24 Mbps). The German release also includes the International Broadcast Version.

Frank Herbert’s Dune (Miniseries/Video/Audio): A/C/A-

Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune Miniseries (2003)

Twelve years have passed since the events of Frank Herbert’s Dune, years of bloody war for universal conquest by Muad’Dib’s Fremen crusaders. The former Emperor’s House Corrino family members now live in exile on the planet Salusa Secundus. But while his youngest daughter Irulan is married to Paul, his oldest, Wensicia, is plotting her family’s revenge. Back on Arrakis, Paul’s now adult sister, Alia, rules his empire with an iron fist, even as his lover, Chani, will soon give birth to Paul’s heirs. But those children, Leto II and Ghanima, will not be what anyone expects.

Though Greg Yaitanes replaced John Harrison as director for Children of Dune, Harrison actually wrote both miniseries, which helps the dramatic continuity tremendously. For Children of Dune, Harrison combined the stories of Herbert’s first two sequel novels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, into a single narrative and broke it into three parts to match the first series. In some ways, it’s actually a better dramatic experience. Alice Kreig replaces Saskia Reeves as Lady Jessica and brings real gravitas to the character as she matches wits with new cast member Susan Sarandon, playing the villainous Princess Wensicia. Alec Newman, Barbora Kodetová, Julie Cox, and Ian McNeice all reprise their roles as Paul, Chani, Irulan, and the Baron Harkonnen, respectively, but two more new cast members stand out too: James McAvoy and Jessica Brooks as Paul and Chani’s children, Leto and Ghanima. Daniele Amavia is also in good form here as the now adult Alia. Meanwhile, Steven Berkoff replaces Uwe Ochsenknecht as Stilgar and Edward Atterton replaces James Watson as Duncan Idaho (as the original actors were unavailable). Composer Brian Tyler returns to add a fine score, music from which has been reused in many other trailers and productions since.

Unlike its predecessor, Children of Dune was shot on HDCAM videotape in 1080/24p HD by cinematographer Arthur Reinhart (Tristan & Isolde) using Sony’s then new CineAlta HDW-F900R camera (with modifications by Panavision) and Panavision lenses. Visual effects were rendered in different resolutions (including 1080, 720, and some SD), depending on whether they were foreground, midground, or background elements, and the series was finished in 1080p HD at the 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release is the same disc released in 2017 (reviewed here), featuring the entire three-part miniseries encoded on a single BD-50. Detail in live action footage is very good overall, with perhaps a bit of edge enhancement baked in, though it’s quite not up to modern HD standards. But colors are rich and vibrant overall, rendering a nice image that’s definitely superior to the previous DVD release. Audio is included in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio format only, and it should be noted that no subtitle options are available. The mix features a smooth, rich, and wide soundstage, with excellent clarity and ambience, lightly active directional play in the surrounds, good bass, and no PAL speed-up issues. Again, there are a couple of special features on this disc, but more on that in a minute.

Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (Miniseries/Video/Audio): B/B/A

In addition to the two miniseries Blu-rays, Umbrella’s new Complete Collection box set includes a pair of Blu-ray bonus discs as well, though there are a few special features on the miniseries discs too. The complete breakdown of features in this set is as follows:


  • Miniseries: Part One (HD – 95:30)
  • Miniseries: Part Two (HD – 98:14)
  • Miniseries: Part Three (HD – 97:41)
  • The Making of Part One: The Filmmaker’s Vision (SD – 31:18)
  • The Making of Part Two: The Production Story (SD – 33:07)
  • Trailer (SD – 1:52)


  • Miniseries: Part One (HD – 87:29)
  • Miniseries: Part Two (HD – 86:59)
  • Miniseries: Part Three (HD – 87:30)
  • The Making of Children of Dune: VFX Revealed (SD – 13:23)
  • Storyboard with Audio Commentary by Greg Yaitanes (SD – 6:05)
  • Visual Effects (SD – 3:28)


  • Cast & Crew Interviews
    • William Hurt (SD – 7:57)
    • Vittorio Storaro (SD – 8:26)
    • John Harrison (SD – 20:21)
    • Alec Newman (SD – 11:59)
    • Julie Cox (SD – 8:01)
    • Saskia Reeves (SD – 5:16)
    • Barbora Kodetova (SD – 5:46)
    • Matt Keeslar (SD – 2:52)
    • Ernest Farino (SD – 9:06)
    • Richard P. Rubinstein (SD – 10:03)
    • Mitchell Galin (SD – 9:12)
    • Miljen Kreka Kljakovic (SD – 4:37)
  • Production Behind-the-Scenes
    • Filming First Unit (SD – 9:32)
    • Filming Second Unit (SD – 4:02)
    • Vittorio Storaro Behind the Camera (SD – 3:17)
    • Camera and Motion Control (SD – 1:30)
    • Translights (SD – 1.35)
    • John Harrison on Directing (SD – 6:09)
    • Set. Stage Preparation (SD – 1:44)
    • Models (SD – 2:02)
    • Costume and Props Department (SD – 2:12)
    • Makeup (SD – 4:13)
    • Studio Set (SD – 5:10)


  • Graeme Revell Reveals (SD – 5:12)
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Lure of Spice (SD – 25:44)
  • Science Fiction/Science Future Panel Discussion (SD – 28:29)
  • Will McNelley on Frank Herbert’s Dune (SD – 12:20)
  • Defining the Messiah (SD – 13:08)
  • Vittorio Storaro: The Color Wheel (SD – 12:41)
  • Walking and Talking with John Harrison (SD – 11:15)
  • The Secrets of Frank Herbert’s Dune (SD – 47:31)
    • Cast & Characters Gallery (SD – 8:15)
    • Production Design Gallery (SD – 5:49)
    • Costume Design Gallery (SD – 4:54)
    • Special, Mechanical & Visual Effects Gallery (SD – 4:05)
    • Cinematography Gallery (SD – 2:41)
    • Cast and Crew Gallery (SD – 5:23)

What should be obvious to anyone familiar with the history of these two miniseries on disc, is that this box set is immediately the most complete collection of special features available in one place. It includes most of the previous DVD content, and nearly all of the previous Blu-ray content. Most surprising of all is that this package now includes all of the video-based content that was previously only available on a DVD disc that came as a bonus with James Van Hise’s The Secrets of Frank Herbert’s Dune book! That’s a very nice surprise indeed, and (again) more on that in a moment.

So what’s not included here? Well, from the original 2001 Artisan DVD of the Dune miniseries, the Frank Herbert's Dune: A Cinematic Treatment by Vittorio Storaro text supplement is missing, along with the cast and crew bios and production notes. By far the biggest omission of this set comes from the 2002 Artisan Dune: Special Edition DVD, which is the audio commentary (with writer/director John Harrison, second unit director/visual effects supervisor Ernest Farino, editor Harry Miller, visual effects designer Greg Nicotero and visual effects supervisor Tim McHugh), as well as the 5-minute Graeme Revell Reveals featurette (which included a 7:25 minute medley of soundtrack music at the end in Dolby Digital 2.0), and the Children of Dune “sneak peek” pre-production gallery. Of course, this DVD release also included the Director’s Cut version of the miniseries which is not here. And finally, missing from the German Alive AG Blu-ray release is the 8-minute Interview with Uwe Ochsenknecht featurette (in German, with no English subs).

Ah, but we’re not done yet. Umbrella’s Complete Collection box set has yet another ace up its sleeve: A 250-page hardback book that includes the complete text of James Van Hise’s The Secrets of Frank Herbert’s Dune book, plus additional text material geared toward the Children of Dune miniseries, including a gallery of production artwork and stills. Remember how I noted that Vittorio Storaro’s Frank Herbert’s Dune: A Cinematic Treatment text was missing from the discs? Well, it’s included here in this book in full. Umbrella’s box set also includes a set of 8 replica lobby cards, and an A3 sized reversible poster.

And we’re still not done: The box set also includes a 750+ piece “LEGO-like” brick set (designed by Jeffy-O) that allows you to build a Facing Shai-Hulud diorama! Here’s what that looks like when completed…

Frank Herbert's Dune: Complete Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

All of this comes packaged in a gorgeous “plinth rigid” slipcase featuring custom artwork by Shannon Trottman. The best part of this case is that—if you remove the bag containing the brick set—it will hold all of your previous Blu-ray and DVD versions of both the Frank Herbert’s Dune and Children of Dune miniseries! Here’s another image of the complete contents of this package…

Frank Herbert's Dune: Complete Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

To be fair, this set is not cheap. The SRP is $235, and the 20% off discount on Amazon currently puts it at about $188. But if you’re a serious fan of Dune, and of these two miniseries in particular, this is as deluxe a version as you’re ever likely to get. All of the set’s discs will play perfectly in the US, there’s no PAL audio speed-up, and this is a truly amazing collection of special features gathered in one place. Just remember to keep that 2002 Artisan Dune: Special Edition DVD (if you have it) and you’re all set. Tip of the hat to Umbrella for a truly impressive package. Recommended… if for only truly diehard spice fans.

- Bill Hunt

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