4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Dune (1984)

Synopsis

Year 10191. Two clans, the noble Atreides and the warlike Harkonnen, battle for the planet Arrakis, precious because its subsurface contains the rarest substance in the universe: Spice. Soon war rages on this hostile land, made even more dangerous by monstrous worms, which, according to a prophecy, young Paul Atreides must subdue. If successful, he will have won over the Fremen, the people of the sand who await their savior.

Test performed from the import version (Arrow Video) unfortunately without VF or FR subtitles.

NB: Image comparisons (.jpg compression, 8-bit) are for illustrative purposes only and are not representative of what the Ultra HD Blu-ray will display on your calibrated UHD HDR monitor.

Video quality

Dunes (1984) was shot on 35mm using cameras Photo-Sonics 4E and Arriflex 35 BL2. Compressed VC-1 and VF DTS 2.0, the very first Blu-ray release (USA) signed Universal dates from 2010. On the eve of the release of Dunes (2021) by Denis Villeneuve, this first adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel by David Lynch has benefited from a 4K restoration (supervised by German Koch Films). Publisher Arrow Video offers the film in a 2160p transfer with HEVC compression and a new Dolby Vision color quality.

The new 4K scan of the original negatives, which were made in Hollywood by Technicolor, does a lot of good for the David Lynch cult film. We note the presence of a more generous framing. This small zoom-out allows us to appreciate additional parts of images (vertical and horizontal). It’s better this way. Admittedly, there are still some optical blurs and the special effects are from the period. But the definition’s contribution remains very sensitive. Is there: a feeling of overall overall sharpness (baroque decorations built in hard), noticeable refinement of details (Harkonnen pustules, spaceships) and a fiendishly tighter and more authentic 35mm grain than before.

From the start of the film, when the stars parade behind Virginia Madsen, the new calibration performs much better than before. It prefers lovely amber and earth tones. Contrasts are much more harmonious with rich light sources and brighter reflections (military medals). Skin tones appear much more natural. The colorimetric palette used is wide and abundant. It shows primaries with strong liveliness (The isolated blue eyes of the Freemen, the green background at the introduction of the Baron, the bold reds of the explosions). Special mention of the contribution to readability – dazzling – on all scenes shot in low light (Harkonnen’s explosive attack, Doctor Yueh’s betrayal, the corridors in the caves).

In HDR10, the brightness level is for the brightest pixel in the entire stream (MaxCLL) stands at 1203 nits, but most brightness peaks do not exceed 659 nits on this title. An average value of brightness peaks was measured at 194 nits. Similarly, 66.93% of the footage of the entire feature film is composed of highlights (with a median of 119 nits). In terms of HEVC video compression, the average bitrate was measured at 82483 kbps and 82547 kbps (with Dolby Vision overlay).

Sound quality

Dunes (1984) is presented to us again in a 5.1 mix. It is reproduced on this video disc in DTS-HD Master Audio (24-bit, 1776 kbps). The high frequencies are still fragile and reveal a vintage sound signature. That said, a good presence of bass must be emphasized, supporting the motorized hum of ships, explosions and other movements of sandworms. Toto’s soundtrack also stands out, with generous spatialization and good use of surround channels. The presence of the original mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 remains a good thing.

Unfortunately this edition Arrow is devoid of VF or French subtitles. It’s a shame because no French equivalent 4K release seems relevant.

Bonuses

– 2 audio commentary tracks
– Impressions of Dune (2003 documentary)
– Destination Dune (featurette 1983)
– 4 featurettes from 2005:
– Design by Dune
-Dune FX
– Dune models and miniatures
– Down suits
– 11 deleted scenes
– Picture gallery

Conclusion

If you are a fan of this first adaptation by David Lynch, then this edition is made for you. Technically, this is the strongest video presentation made for this film, which utilizes a true 4K restoration. Too bad: Arrow isn’t used to embedding VF or FR subtitles on its 4K Blu-rays. So an imported version to acquire deliberately…

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