Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yet another remake of Dune is on the way?

Science Fiction fans know John Harrison as the man who finally adapted Frank Herbert’s DUNE in its entirety. Harrison’s DUNE and subsequent CHILDREN OF DUNE were award winning mini-series for the SCI FI Channel. Harrison wrote produced and directed the first mini-series for cable network, and wrote and produced the second. Even though it has been a couple of years since CHILDREN OF DUNE, the idea of translating the next DUNE books is not lost to Harrison. iF MAGAZINE talked to Harrison about any future plans for DUNE.

iF MAGAZINE: You were approached by a studio to do yet another DUNE movie of the first book correct?

JOHN HARRISON: Yes. They haven’t really approached me, but because Richard Rubenstein, with whom I partnered up on the original DUNE mini-series, has certain rights they came to us. We were trying to set up a feature based on Brian [Herbert] and Kevin’s [J. Anderson] prequel books. They knew this, and they came to us, and they said, “We would like to re-make the original DUNE movie. We think the time is right and the mini-series were very successful, so we think there is an audience for it.” I would be involved as one of the producers, but I would not be writing and directing it. At least, we have no plans for that at the moment. What they’re trying to do is work out an arrangement with Brian, and once that can be done, if it can be done, then they would go ahead.

iF: If it were a feature film version again, it would have to be epic scale like LORD OF THE RINGS, wouldn’t it?

HARRISON: Nobody knows what they want to do. They don’t know if they want to do one movie, two movies, or even ten movies. We were trying to sell a trilogy of movies based on the prequel books, and do it in the epic style. Unfortunately, the first book is the one that, anyone who isn’t a fan, kind of gloms onto as the Holy Grail. While I feel that its been done twice, to one degree of success or another, once by David Lynch and once by me, to do a third version is well…

iF: It seems like overkill to do a third version of DUNE. I’ve gotten what I needed between the two versions that already exist.

HARRISON: Yeah, and there is so much other great material. I tired to talk SCI FI Channel into doing a series, using the existing material that carried on after CHILDREN OF DUNE. We had two great mini-series, very highly rated, very successful, and incredibly successful in home video. Why not keep this franchise going? There are five more, now six, books with HUNTERS OF DUNE. I don’t look at DUNE as “hard sci-fi”. “Hard sci-fi" is the sense of hardware and space wars and space opera. To me it’s just great human political drama.

iF: I would completely agree. I can’t read science fiction. I just can’t sit down and read a sci-fi novel. DUNE is the only sci-fi series that I can read and then read over.

HARRISON: I think the reason for that is, the genius of [Frank] Herbert’s work is he found a way to tell a story of the human condition that we can all recognize in a fantastical setting. If you think of the structure of that first book and the subsequent books, it’s like Shakespearean or Jacobean drama. It has power groups, very recognizable characters. Yes there are Bene Gesserit witches, and there are Dukes and Emperors, but they reflect our own world and that’s what’s so incredible about it. My trouble with sci-fi is you start reading books and you have to learn a whole new vocabulary of characters and wired names that people come up with in their books. [Laughs] But, the DUNE books are about us, humans. Yes they are advanced in some ways, and thousands of years from now. The original DUNE book creates an empire not unlike the Renaissance period.

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