For the other adaptations of Dune, see Dune (1984) and Dune (2021).
The Dune miniseries, billed as "Frank Herbert's Dune", is a television adaptation of the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert, often credited as "the masterpiece of science fiction". The miniseries aired in the year 2000 on the Sci-Fi Channel. Its $20 million budget was small for a sci-fi blockbuster — especially since the three-part nature of the series functionally meant they were making multiple feature-length films — but was almost unprecedented for a series intended for an initial TV release. It received a significant marketing push (Including full theatrical trailers) as the Sci-Fi Channel tried to break into serious made-for-TV production.
This adaptation is sometimes referred to as "the one with the hats" because of its use of flamboyant costume design to distinguish between the different factions within the story. This adaptation also notably expands the role of Princess Irulan to further drive the story and replace characters that weren't adapted over.
Dune stars William Hurt as Duke Leto, who despite top-billing is only in about the first third of the story. Alec Newman stars as Paul 'Muad'Dib' Atreides, with Ian McNeice as Baron Harkonnen and an international cast of actors.
Frank Herbert's Dune contains examples of:
- Adapted Out: Lady Fenring (Irulan goes to Giedi Prime with Count Fenring instead).
- Adaptational Curves: In this adaptation, they cast decidedly voluptuous Barbora Kodetova as Chani, a character described as slender and devoid of body fat in the books.
- Adaptation Expansion: Princess Irulan — who only shows up in the novel in person in the very last chapter — gets a greatly expanded role, since the people in charge of the series thought it was a bit much to ask viewers to accept Paul marrying a total stranger. Irulan befriends Paul early on in the plot, and when House Atreides is seemingly destroyed she attempts to find out what her father is plotting. Unfortunately, this makes Irulan a much more sympathetic character, meaning that her fate at the end of the series — being married to Paul, who clearly considers Chani his real wife in everything but name — is even harsher than in the source material.
- Irulan appears to have aspects of Margot Fenring combined with her character. Since the latter was adapted out, this would make the miniseries' Irulan more of a composite character.
- Advertised Extra: William Hurt is billed as a major character, but he's killed before the end of Part One. The real lead of the miniseries is Alec Newman.
- All-Encompassing Mantle: The Spacing Guild representatives wear purple velvet-ish capes. However, these just keep going up and up into giant purple-velvetish cones.
- Always Night: Giedi Prime. Presumably following the book's explanation that the planet is fouled with pollution.
- Animal Motif: The Atreides symbol is a hawk, and the Corrino symbol is a golden lion - both of which are mentioned prominently in the first book in the series, which this is based on. At the dinner party scene in the part one, however, Paul mentions that the Harkonnen symbol is a griffin - this actually is part of the book canon, but it was only established retroactively in the fifth novel in the series.
- Ascended Extra:
- Princess Irulan gets a greatly expanded role in this series, fulfilling the arcs of several other characters.
- Black Comedy: When a dying Dr. Yueh says "You think you've defeated me?", Baron Harkonnen just nods while silently mouthing, "Oh yes."
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: The miniseries visualized the Eyes of the Ibad as glowing. This was toned down in the Children of Dune sequel.
- Character Tics: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in this miniseries had a distinctive habit of rubbing his right temple when he was frustrated. Later on, Paul Atreides does this himself, demonstrating the family connection between the two. In Children of Dune, we see Alia performing the gesture when she hears the Baron's voice in her head.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries portrays the Harkonnens in red, the Imperial Corrinos are purple and gold (likely a reference to the purple togas worn by Roman emperors), the Atreides primarily in tan and white, Fremen in brown and dark orange, and Spacing Guild members in black.
- Combat Breakdown: Paul and Feyd's knife fight has them throwing punches and kicks after one, then the other, is disarmed, in contrast to the book and the earlier film. Though they pick up their knives again to finish it.
- Compelling Voice: In the mini-series, the Voice is clearly heard as the Voice of the Legion, although only to its target. In the film, it can be heard playing over and over in the target's mind, forcing him to comply.
- Crazy Cultural Comparison: The "gift of moisture" scene appears in adaptations with variations. In the mini-series, it is Paul who thanks Stilgar for the gift.
- Creepy Uncle: The miniseries takes this further than the book, and has the Baron rapturously watching a naked Feyd-Rautha emerging from a swimming pool.
- Dead Star Walking: William Hurt gets top billing as Duke Leto Atreides in Sci-Fi Channel's Dune Miniseries, despite his character getting killed at the end of part one (of three).
- Death Wail: Inverted here, where Rabban does this when he realizes that he is about to become the metaphorical ex-beloved ally.
- Distant Reaction Shot: The mini-series has a dead-serious one of these with a spice-blow right after Liet-Kynes realizes that he's right on top of it and begins screaming, "I am a desert creat-"
- Elite Mooks: Sardaukar elite troopers.
- Ermine Cape Effect: Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV in the miniseries wears very elaborate outfits even when he's just working in his study or meeting with his advisers. This is different from the book, where Shaddam IV wore an ordinary Sardaukar officer's uniform with no decoration other than a black helmet even at official state functions. This was stated to not be the case throughout history, being a personal affectation of Shaddam's which symbolized his reliance on the Sardaukar to maintain power.
- Evil Gloating: When his Mentat wants to Get It Over With, the Baron argues that rubbing Duke Leto's face in his own defeat is the entire point!Piter deVries: Perhaps we should get on with it then?
Baron Harkonnen: Get on with it? THIS-IS-KANLY, Piter! Vendetta! And I am going to savor every minute of it. My family has hated the Atreides for generations. They have been the sand in our eyes, the stink at our meals. These arrogant Atreides, always standing in our way. I want Leto to appreciate the beauty, of what I have done to him. I want him to know that I, BARON VLADIMIR HARKONNEN, am the instrument of his family's demise, the extinction of House Atreides, and the ascendance (Milking the Giant Cow) of House Harkonnen.
- Flash Step: How "the weirding way of fighting" is depicted in the Dune and Children of Dune miniseries.
- Guns vs. Swords: Played straight as per the novel, but without the novel's justification — the rebels just Zerg Rush troopers armed with firearms without the mass casualties that would ensue in real life.
- Hotter and Sexier: Compared to the previous adaptation. Jessica and Leto and later Chani and Paul are shown naked in bed together, while the 1984 film had them clothed in equivalent scenes. Paul sees the Fremen, including Chani, strip off their stillsuits without regard for gender or modesty by offworlders' standards. The sietch's "spice orgy" is depicted as both communal religious ecstasy and a literal orgy. Feyd-Rautha is shown naked from behind and ministered to by topless, near-naked slaves.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Frank Herbert's Dune.
- Mini Series: 2000 Sci-Fi. Adapted the first three books, the first titled Frank Herbert's Dune and the second Children of Dune (combined with the second book, Dune Messiah).
- Nice Hat: In the Sci-Fi Channel's production, there were several Nice Hats, most notably the Bene Gesserit, seen here◊ (the hat is the thing extending back from her head).
- Oh, Crap!:
- The Fremen have a four-part opening to their assault on Arrakeen. First, they blow up the Shield Wall with a nuke. This is followed by a massive sandstorm, a squadron of ornithopters, and four sandworms carrying Fremen warriors. In between each part, we shift back to the Imperial Palace to see the Oh, Crap! reactions on everyone's faces.
- Also satisfying is the expression on Rabban's face when he sees that he is surrounded by an immense, eerily silent mob of the very people he had enjoyed brutally oppressing. The fact that he just drops his knife and lets out a cry of abject despair as the mob swarms in and guts him is icing on the cake.
- To make this one worse, is the Hope Spot Rabban has when he sees Stilgar there with a gun, and you can almost sense that he hopes for a quick death by gunshot... only for Stilgar to turn and walk away, leaving him at the mercy of a hundred villagers and Fremen who are hardly going to give him such mercy. In other words, Oh, Crap!, Hope Spot, then double Oh, Crap!.
- And the expression on the Baron's face when he realizes that a little girl had just poisoned him. Him, the Baron of Geidi Prime, brought low by a four-year-old girl. Oh, Crap! indeed.
- Proper Lady: Lady Jessica in the miniseries behaves like one, even though she's technically not part of the nobility. she actually is, though she doesn't know it: she's the Baron's daughter, hard as that is to believe.
- Rhymes on a Dime: In this adaptation, Baron Harkonnen has this as a coda to his scenes."By the time the traitor is fully revealed, the fate of Atreides will already be sealed.""So let the emperor mock House Harkonnen, call us swine. Because in the end his throne will be mine."
- Scenery Porn: Whatever the budget might have been, the interior sets of the palaces look gorgeous (well, except for the Harkonnen's Stylistic Suck, but that was intentional).
- Space Clothes: The 2000 miniseries (aided by the meager budget) sets groups apart by very large hats.
- Technicolor Eyes: A result of high-level Spice addiction, when enough ingestion saturates the bloodstream and stains the eyes. Turned into Glowing Eyes of Doom in both live-action adaptations.
- Truer to the Text: The 2000 miniseries takes some liberties with Frank Herbert's book, but compared to the 1984 David Lynch movie, its fidelity is nigh-slavish.
- Even the invented Irulan scenes are more trying to depict what the Corrinos probably were doing "off-screen" in the books: they wanted to interweave the imperial family into the story more organically, so it wasn't as jarring when they show up at the end. The way the novels did this was by quoting excerpts at the beginning of each chapter from books that Irulan wrote years later about these events - which doesn't translate neatly into a visual format. Thus the invented Irulan scenes are more of an "adaptation" of those book excerpts, now presented as her real-time reactions.