Frank Herbert's Dune

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This article is about the TV miniseries. For the video game of the same name, see Frank Herbert's Dune (video game).
Frank Herbert's Dune
Based on Dune 
by Frank Herbert
Screenplay by John Harrison
Story by Frank Herbert
Directed by John Harrison
Starring William Hurt
Alec Newman
Saskia Reeves
Ian McNeice
Julie Cox
Giancarlo Giannini
Music by Graeme Revell
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Richard P. Rubinstein
Mitchell Galin
Cinematography Vittorio Storaro
Running time 265 min
295 min (Director's cut)
Budget $20,000,000 (estimated)
Original channel Sci Fi Channel
Original release December 3, 2000
Followed by Frank Herbert's Children of Dune

Frank Herbert's Dune is a three-part miniseries written and directed by John Harrison and based on Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune.

The series was produced by New Amsterdam Entertainment, Blixa Film Produktion and Hallmark Entertainment Distribution. It was first broadcast in the United States on December 3, 2000, on the Sci Fi Channel. It was later released on DVD in 2001, with a director's cut appearing in 2002.

A 2003 sequel miniseries called Frank Herbert's Children of Dune continued the story, adapting the second and third novels in the series (1969's Dune Messiah and its 1976 sequel Children of Dune). As of 2004, both miniseries were two of the three highest-rated programs ever to be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel.[1]

Frank Herbert's Dune won two Emmy Awards in 2001 for Cinematography and Visual effects in a miniseries/movie, as well as being nominated for a third Emmy for Sound editing. The series was also praised by several critics, including Kim Newman.[2]

The miniseries was shot in Univisium (2.00:1) aspect ratio, although it was broadcast in 1.78:1.

Main cast[edit]

Actor Role
William Hurt Duke Leto Atreides
Alec Newman Paul Atreides/Muad'Dib
Saskia Reeves[3] Lady Jessica
James Watson Duncan Idaho
Jan Vlasák (cs) Thufir Hawat
P.H. Moriarty Gurney Halleck
Robert Russell Dr. Wellington Yueh
Laura Burton Alia Atreides
Ian McNeice Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Matt Keeslar Feyd-Rautha
László I. Kish (de) Glossu Rabban
Jan Unger Piter De Vries
Giancarlo Giannini Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Julie Cox Princess Irulan
Miroslav Táborský Count Hasimir Fenring
Uwe Ochsenknecht Stilgar
Barbora Kodetová Chani
Jakob Schwarz Otheym
Karel Dobrý Liet-Kynes
Christopher Lee Brown Jamis
Jaroslava Šiktancová Shadout Mapes
Zuzana Geislerová Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam


Acquiring the television rights to Frank Herbert's original six Dune novels, Executive producer Richard P. Rubinstein envisioned the complex material adapted in a miniseries format, as he had done previously with Stephen King's The Stand and The Langoliers. He told The New York Times in 2003, "I have found there's a wonderful marriage to be had between long, complicated books and the television mini-series. There are some books that just can't be squeezed into a two-hour movie." Around the same time Rubenstein was first developing the material, the Sci Fi Channel's president, Bonnie Hammer, was spearheading a campaign for the channel to produce "blockbuster miniseries on a regular basis". Frank Herbert's Dune was the first in 2000, followed by Steven Spielberg's Taken in 2002, and Frank Herbert's Children of Dune and Battlestar Galactica in 2003. Rubenstein called his two Dune miniseries "science fiction for people who don't ordinarily like science fiction" and suggested that "the Dune saga tends to appeal to women in part because it features powerful female characters".[4]


Director John Harrison has described his adaptation as a "faithful interpretation" in which any changes he made served to suggest what Herbert had explained subtly or not at all.[5] The miniseries introduces elements not found in Herbert's novel, but according to the director, these serve to elaborate rather than to edit.[5] Hurt was the first to be cast in the 2000 adaptation. A fan of the novel, he told The New York Times, "I was a science fiction junkie ... [Harrison] captured Herbert's prophetic reflection of our own age, where nation-states are competing with the new global economy and its corporate elements."[6]

Herbert's novel begins with lead character Paul Atreides being 15 years old and aging to 18 over the course of the story. Harrison aged the character to adulthood in order to increase the quality of the acting for this crucial role.[7]

The miniseries invents an extensive subplot for Princess Irulan, a character who plays little part in the plot of the first novel. Harrison felt the need to expand Irulan's role because she played such an important part in later books, and epigraphs from her later writings opened each chapter of Dune.[5][8] Additionally, the character gave him a window into House Corrino.[5] Besides the final scene, the only one of Irulan's appearances based on an actual excerpt from the novel is her visit to Feyd-Rautha. However, in the book it is a different Bene Gesserit, Margot Fenring, who visits the Harkonnen heir, on assignment from the Bene Gesserit to "preserve the bloodline" by retrieving his genetic material (through conception) for their breeding program. The miniseries does not suggest this as Irulan's motive.


A soundtrack album for the miniseries was released by GNP Crescendo Records on December 3, 2000. It contains 27 tracks composed by Graeme Revell and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.[9]


  1. ^ Ascher, Ian (2004). "Kevin J. Anderson Interview". (Internet Archive). Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved July 3, 2007. 
  2. ^ See Science Fiction/Horror by Kim Newman, BFI Publishing, 2002.
  3. ^ Harrison has stated in interviews that actress Alice Krige was his first choice to play Jessica, but she was unavailable and Reeves won the role. Krige would later play the role in the sequel miniseries when Reeves was unavailable.
  4. ^ Berger, Warren (March 16, 2003). "COVER STORY: Where Spice of Life Is the Vital Variety". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d Fritz, Steve (December 4, 2000). "DUNE: Remaking the Classic Novel". Archived from the original on March 16, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (December 3, 2000). "COVER STORY: Future Myths, Adrift in the Sands of Time". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Ask John Harrison". (Internet Archive). 2000. Archived from the original on July 2, 2008. Retrieved July 2, 2008. 
  8. ^ Julie Cox's narration at the beginning and end of the miniseries reflects Irulan's later role as historian of the Atreides empire, illustrated by Herbert through epigraphs.
  9. ^

External links[edit]