Review: Children of Dune
Amazon Prime: Children of Dune (2003)
Dune was first released in 1965 by author Frank Herbert and became one of the most important science fiction novels of the 20th century. The world of Dune has expanded immensely over the years in the book section since then. Before his death in 1986, Frank Herbert had published six novels (seven if you include the encyclopedia of Dune by Willis E. McNelly though approved and endorsed by Herbert) making up two Dune Trilogies in total. The count now stands at nineteen published novels which have been written / overseen by Frank son’s Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson using notes and memories from Frank Herbert’s estate. You could also throw the five PC games and handful of RPG’s that also expand the Dune universe.
In 1971, film producer Arthur P. Jacobs (Planet of the Apes) gained the feature film rights to Dune, but sadly died in 1973. In 1974 though, the feature film rights for Dune were purchased by a French consortium and Alejandro Jodorowsky was given the director’s chair for what would have been probably the most insane film ever made if it got through the pre-production phase. In 1976, Producer Dino De Laurentiis purchased the rights and attempted to start production with a pre-Alien Ridley Scott on board. This attempt also failed due to Ridley Scott leaving the production due to the sudden death of his older brother but leaving all the work that he had done in Dino’s hands. Fast forward to 1984 and David Lynch’s Dune is released to scathing reviews and a head scratching audience. The film has gained a cult following over the years. You could probably ask the 60MW team about my fascinating obsession with it but that’s another story.
As it’s been evident over the last decade or more, TV shows are becoming more and more popular with mainstream audiences. The medium allows a story to be told over a longer timeframe and get more in depth with the plot and characters. Writer / Director John Harrison brought his vision for Frank Herbert’s Dune to the Sci-Fi channel in 2000 to critical acclaim and won two Emmy awards in the process.
As with success comes sequels……
Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (2003) continues the saga of Dune which is far from over. John Harrison, who has taken a back seat from the directing chair to handle just the screenplay duties, combines books two and three of the first Dune Trilogy, Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976). The story continues Paul Atreides’s uprising on planet Arrakis 12 years after the events of Dune. Now Emperor after the destruction of House Harkonnen and reigning over House Corrino, home of the previous known emperor of the entire universe, and The Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild and having his armies launch several jihad’s in his name to prove his power. Paul now controls the spice throughout the entire universe. The Emperor’s second daughter, Wensicia, hatched a plot to overthrow Paul with the aide of the other fallen houses to overthrow Paul and restore Corrino to power. Paul can sense the dangers ahead and allows them to develop to the point where he is blinded after an attack whilst his concubine Chani, gives birth to their twins. Following the attack, Paul banishes himself to the desert and his sister Alia now controls Arrakis.
Chapter two and three (based on the Children of Dune novel) finds Leto II and Ghanima, Paul and Chani’s children, grown up and living under the rule of Alia still who control’s Paul’s empire. With the arrival of Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, Ailia starts descending into a spiral of madness stemmed from paranoia. This leads to Jessica sending the Leto and Ghanima into the desert for their protection. With the remaining houses still plotting to overthrow House Atredies, Leto discovers that he must lead mankind onto the golden path to ensure humanity’s survival.
Children of Dune is just hands down superb right from the opening scenes. Being a huge fan of John Harrison’s TV adaption of Dune, Children of Dune expands on it with a bigger scope thanks to the utilization of CGI landscapes and a deeper story that builds upon the original in an in-depth way that doesn’t feel like a cheap cash in on the success of the first mini-series. The assembled cast deliver some great performances throughout and Brian Tyler’s score, who took over composing duties from Graeme Revell, is majestic. This was Game of Thrones in space before George R.R Martin made it hip for epic fantasy stories.
Children of Dune is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Review by Rob from an advance streaming link kindly supplied by Signature Entertainment.