|Illustration by Robert Ball|
I loved the idea of the spice drug, Melange, which could expand human consciousness, allowing some humans to change altogether in physical and mental form and use their mental powers to transport spacecraft faster than light through warped space. The spice also allowed the protagonist, Paul Atreides (Muad'Dib), to access a new plane of mental power and take on the role of religious leader of the known universe. As Herbert later said of Paul Atreides and the Dune story, "I am showing you the superhero syndrome and your own participation in it". I've wondered ever since reading Dune if we would one day see a world where an elite few can use some form of technology or chemistry to propel themselves to a superhuman status (would such people try to rule the rest of us as gods?).
Admittedly, I've never read the sequels to the Dune stories that were written by Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson. I've heard good and bad about their additions to the Dune universe. I'm sure at some point I'll get around to them, but for now I like to bask in the glory of the Dune universe that I envisioned after reading Frank Herbert's original work.
Fans of Dune and the sequels are usually also fans of the 1984 film, which was written and directed by David Lynch. It was a decent take on the original story, though the novel had so much political and religious complexity to it that I think the film came up a bit short in delivering the real depth of the Dune story to the audience. In fact, the film Dune was probably one of my favorite movies when I was a kid.
Michael Warren, a fan of the 1984 film adaptation of Dune, has put together an extended version of the film which is most definitely worth the watch. He recently made an HD remastered version of this film "Dune: The Complete Saga" (the film is available for download by clicking on the link). This new version was mentioned to me by Michael Warren himself (see the comments below). Of his edits in putting this film together he says, "It is far better in terms of video and audio and I managed to find a place for a couple of more narrations from Princess Irulan to help clarify and expand on the story and details. I also utilized more of my editing skills to improve certain transitions and integrations to run far more smoothly and effectively." Get it while it's hot, people!
In the early 2000s the SyFy network (then called the Sci-Fi Channel) released a miniseries version of Dune, Frank Herbert's Dune, as well as a sequel, Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, based on the two novels that follow Dune. I've heard a lot of complaints from Dune fans about these miniseries, but I found them to be far more accurate portrayals of the original novels than the 1984 film. Indeed, with the greater amount of time to work on character and story development, I think the miniseries came closest to what Frank Herbert had envisioned in his stories.
Of course, there are many of us who lament that Alejandro Jodorowsky's attempt to make a film version of Dune in the 1970s never panned out. Some people have thought of this film as possibly being the greatest science fiction film that was never made. In 2013, a documentary was made that looks back at what Jodorowsky's Dune might have been.
It's now been 50 years since Frank Herbert first gave the Dune story to the world. The original novel has sold millions of copies and the sequels and film adaptations have inspired generations of sci-fi fans to wonder about what could happen if a person was given powers that made them appear as something supernatural. I think I'll read Dune again, in honor of five decades of this fantastic story.