17 September 2013
When it comes to science fiction literature, there are few books with the weight, scope, sales, and the amount of influence as Frank Herbert's 1965 classic DUNE. This magnum opus stands as my favorite novel, and I believe the finest work of human imagination with a litter of awards and praise to back that theory up. With DUNE being so highly praised as one of the finest science fiction novels very written, and it wasn't long before Hollywood came knocking. From 1971 through today, there have several major attempts to bring DUNE to the silver screen. However, only two of these projects were completed. Despite all of this effort since 1971, the concept of the 1965 novel has never been successful translated into film. The 1984 David Lynch film bombing at the box-office, and the 2000 mini-series divided fans. In this blogpost, FWS will be discussing how the attempts at adapting DUNE for the big screen broke the promise of the novel. Also on the DUNE front, FWS will be covering the toyline of the 1984 movie adaption in a future Military Sci-Fi Toys blogpost.
Is DUNE Military Science Fiction?
DUNE is complex and layered, like a nice lasagna, with all manner of element interacting around a central story of a power struggle between families. In someways, DUNE could be more of an Italian opera than space epic! FWS often talks about DUNE, but is DUNE really military science fiction? While, it is not "hard-core MSF" like Old Man's War, Honor Harrington, or even HALO, but it does involve a military conflict in the very distance future that is unlike anything seen in science fiction. Certainly, the films and games derived from the original text focus on the military element of the conflict between the factions in the book. Has I said above, DUNE is complex and layered, and the armed struggle between House Atredies, House Harkonnen, the Empire, and the Fremen is a primary story element in the novel. These armed conflicts are parred with planetary ecology, universe-wide drug addiction, economics, control, destiny, sexual power, and religion. All of plot-points dilated the military sci-fi elements, but they are still there. Here on FWS, DUNE is in the military sci-fi family, but it the "crazy uncle Bob" in the mix....everyone has an crazy uncle Bob.
The Challenge of Adopting the Text to Screen
The 1971-1973 Arthur P. Jacobs Attempt
The 1975 Alejandro Jodorowsky Attempt
DUNE didn't belong to Herbert just as Don Quixtoe did belong to Cervantes." and "I didn't want to respect the novel". I realize that everyone interprets your written word, music, or film via their own imagination and experiences, recreating your art as something individual per the audience. But not respecting the novel and that DUNE doesn't belong to Herbert is worrisome. The artist owns the work, you own the interpretation, and this makes me very glad that his vision of DUNE never saw the light of day. Take for example, the Emperor of the Known Universe, who would have been played by the Salvador Dali, who demand to be paid $100k an hour!. Jodorowsky envisioned an madman who sits upon a throne of two open-mouthed fishes that happily received his wastes, all while a robotic copy of him keep the madman company! Then Jodorowsky re-imagined the spice-drug as a blue spongy thing filled with vegetable/animal life that possess the highest level of consciences. No shit. Paul would have been murdered at the end of the film, but he would have transmitted his god-collective consciences to his mother, the Fremen, and become "the man-collective" and there would have been this really trippy ending with intergalactic rainbows (no shit), vapors, rain, clouds, and then the Dune planet would become green, and illuminates the known universe with its light. Fucking spare me.
The 1978-1980 Ridley Scott Attempt
Lynch's Journey to Arrkakis
The 1984 DUNE Film: Getting It 1/3rd Right
The 1984 DUNE Film: Getting It 2/3rd Wrong
The film degrades further when it was stretched for the longer TV adaption. Throughout the longer film, there is an Harkonnen warship is repeatedly (and laughably) shown cruising through the mist, and flying towards a city. Then we have scenes of the Baron staring off into space, with different radio chatter inserted. We have the Atriedies soldier's death repeated twice during the Harkonnen sneak attack on Arrakeen. Then that brings us to one of the main sins in the 1984 version: the poorly filmed battle scenes. Any epic, there needs to be a great battle, where good vs. evil, and story concludes. DUNE has the final battle at Arrakeen, and any DUNE fan was excited to see the final showdown. While the knife dual at the end of the movie was very good, and well done, the Fremen assault on the capital city was not. It seems that Lynch that filmed one big battle scene in the desert, then recycled that shoot basically throughout the versions of the film. When it came to the attacks on Arrakeen, the Harkonnen sneak attack is disjointed and confused, ruining the actors' performances, and the emotions tied to the attack. This is similar to the final battle on Arrakeen by the Fremen against the Imperial legions, which is also disjointed, confused, and too short. Of course, the end of the movie is topped off with Paul making it rain on the face of Arrakis. An end that even Frank Herbert disputes.
Why Did the 1984 DUNE Film Fail?
Was There Going to be More David Lynch DUNE Movies?
Is There an Four/Five/Six-Hour Version of the DUNE Movie?
The 2000 Sci-Fi Channel Mini-Series: Telling the Story...on a Budget
What this mini-series did right was telling the story of DUNE with some changes for time and character development. This version did tell the story of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, give dignity back to the Fremen, and actually developed the love story between Paul and Chani. Even Paul and Chani's first son is featured along with his murder. Another element done well was the more human Guild, slimy and a breed apart, and this suited them.
When you watch the scene in the 2000 mini-series, while there is greater development of the smugglers and Gurney's role with them, the scene is flat, the timing is off, and the actors cannot replicate the level of performance. That is how it is throughout this miniseries, it lacks weight and depth present in the 1984 movie. Then there is the acting...some of it is fine, but the majority cannot hold a candle to the 1984 film, and is so bad in parts, that it breaks the viewer from the experience. Lastly, there is the special effect. I'm not going to bag on the 2000 CGI SFX, that cannot be helped, and for the time, they weren't that bad.
The thing I am going to pick on the mini-series about is the use of duratrans, short for double transparency. These are an old technique used in stage plays and in television, including Babylon 5. My issue is that it make a majority of the exterior shots look confined and cheap. The effect was simply not pulled off, causing the ope desert environment to appear more confined than they should have. Usage of duratrans caused for the miniseries to have the appearance of an elaborate stage play and not a grand sci-fi epic. Do we even have to mention the costume design of Frank Herbert's DUNE? Wow. Those hats. They would appear outlandish at a British Royal society function! While the 1984 movie did have "interesting" costume choices, they are nothing compared to the miniseries. The only better design was the Stillsuits, which were much closer to the original text than the 1984 rubber versions. Much like the movie, the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries was a good effect and did tell the story of DUNE, but it just couldn't quite get it right. Maybe no one can.
The New DUNE Movie: The Sleeper is Still Asleep
Could DUNE be an Unfilmable Novel?
The Dune Wiki Article
The Best DUNE site on the Web
The Topless Robot Article about what Lynch needlessly added
Harlen Ellison on DUNE
At the Movies reviewing DUNE in 1984
Retrospective Reviews on DUNE
10 September 2013
Here is the trailer:
What is an Carbine?
There is yet another example of a carbine, the civilian legal submachine gun carbine, In America, certain laws ban certain barrel lengths, requiring firearm manufacturers to be creative in order to sell certain military-type weapons. With the demand in the American market for PDWs and SMGs, these companies fit 16 inch barrels on the weapons and sell them under the title of "carbine" This was done to the FN P90, the UZI, and the Britsh Sterling SMG.
The Typical Users of the Carbines
- Radio Operators
- Dog Handlers
- Vehicle Crews
- Close-Quarters Special Ops Teams
- Long-Range Recon units
- Close-Protection units
- VBSS units
- Mechanized infantry
- Military Police
- Base Personnel
When is a Carbine not a Carbine?
Why I love Carbines!
The History of the Military Carbines
Modification of the length of weapons is nothing new. Knives, spears, pikes, and swords have been shortened based on the tactical situation or the intended prey. Just look at the Japanese Wakizashi, or the Roman Gladius, or even the Tomahawk of the Native American tribes. All were modified for the tactical situation, and firearms were no different. Evidence of shortening the primitive hand-cannons of China as been seen along with the Spanish Arquebus, all the way to the first "real" carbines of Europe of the 18th centuries. When flintlock muskets were adopted by the cavalry units, one of the major issues was reloading the very long weapon while on horseback.To assist the cavalry soldier, the standard musket length was reduced. However, it should be noted that most cavalry soldiers did not reload their muskets while riding and still preferred the sword.
During the wars of the 19th century, namely the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War, carbine could be seen used by cavalry and scouts with the iconic Sharps carbine and the Spencer repeating carbine. The US government layout some guidelines for their cavalry carbines. Simple of design and loading, sealing against the elements in 1861. The Spencer repeater was load via breech in the butt-shock with springs to load the seven metal cartridges via a level-action system and was fielded in 1863. The .52 Sharps carbine became the firearm of choice for the Union and Confederate cavalry units during the war. At the time of the Civil War, some in the Union command fear that the soldiers would fire too many rounds in combat if they were issued Spencer repeaters. President Lincoln himself fired one on the White House lawn!
What would follow, after World War One, would a general shortening of those heavy wood-and-steel rifles into carbines. These are not the typical carbines as we know them today. For example, the Mauser 1898 rifle that chambered the 7.92x57mm round, was reduced from 29 inches to 26.6 inches, and thus was christened the "Karabiner 98 Kurz" or carbine 98 short, and issued as the standard infantry rifle of the 3rd Reich. The British would shorten their own bolt-action rifle, the .303 Lee Enfield No.4 Mk 1 from 44 inches to 39.5 inches, for use by commonwealth forces in airborne or jungle operations that needed a lightened and shortened variant of the proven Enfield rifle. This was also true of the Japanese Type 38 carbine, a cutdown variant of the Type 38 rifle and this carbine also spawned the Imperial Japanese Type 44 cavalry-carbine.
After the 1950's, modern military organizations would move towards mobility, mechanization, and growing of special forces along with the new element of air mobility. This elements allowed carbines to expanded. Shortened variants of the AK (AKMS), FN FAL (FAL Para), and the M16 (take your pick of names) were issued to mechanized troops, vehicle crew, dog handlers, and special operation forces. While these carbines were handy, they were also sought after by non-combat soldiers (REMFs), due to their coolness factory, making it difficult for special units in Vietnam to get their hands on the XM177E2s. This was also similar to the Soviet AKS-74U (which is an commando carbine), and was a prized war-trophy by the mujahideen. That is why Osama Bin Laden used to have one has his personal weapon.
There is no solid information on this, and I've had to assume on the factors that led to the development of the Colt M4 and other modern carbines. My theory is that military planners and firearms companies were able to foresee the rise of body-armor, the decreased use of submachine guns by special forces, and the tactical flexibility of the carbine, especially in urban warfare. Another factor that helped the spread of carbines was the move towards was the end of the Cold War, and increased likelihood of the "small war" AKA low-intensity conflicts. These, as President Kennedy said in graduation of a West Point class in June of 1962, "a war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat; by infiltration, instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him".
Advantages of Carbines
Unlike their assault rifle big brothers, the carbine is more compact and lighter in weight, allowing for the soldier's burden of kit to be lightened by a few pounds. Also, the carbine is sandwiched between the full-sized assault rifle and the cut-down commando carbine, this middle-ground weapon evens the odds of both of these other weapons. This smaller size allows the carbine to a general use weapon, for all manner of tactical situations: urban warfare, close quarters combat, VBSS, and general infantry combat. While the size carbines appeals to the infantry, it is also is a ideal length for: dog handlers, special operators, tankers, air crews, officers, medics, and radio operators. Another group served well by the reduction in size and weight are female soldiers. Given the increasing roles for female soldiers, the new crop of modern carbines is easier for them to handle because of their general smaller size than male soldiers. Just look at those smiling faces in those pictures! Carbines make soldiers happy!
Disadvantages of Carbines
Real-Steel Examples of Carbines
My Grandfather's Weapon of Choice: The M1 Carbine
The H&K 416
The Colt M4
The IMI Tavor-21
The FN F2000
The H&K G36K
G36k (for "kurz" or "short")
The AK Carbines
The XM23 Stoner 63 Carbine
Ruger Mini-14 Carbine
The IMI Galil SAR/ Vektor R5
What is the Future of Carbines?
Carbines in Science Fiction
Examples of Carbines in Science-Fiction
The Morita Mark I Carbine from Starship Troopers (1997)
The Morita Mk. III "Survival Carbine" from Starship Troopers: 3 (2008)
Armat Battlefield Systems M41A1 Pulse Rifle from ALIENS
The Colonial Fleet Carbines from BSG and BSG: Blood & Chrome
H&K 416 Carbine from Terminator: Salvation
The Type-51 Covenant Carbine from the HALO Universe
The MACO EM-41 Carbine from Star Trek: Enterprise
The H90 Mars Gallant Pistol-Carbine from the ROBOTECH and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA
The Terra-Nova Security Forces Carbine from Terra Nova
The EE-3 Carbine from the Star Wars Universe
Here is the link to the Boba Fett EE-3 Carbine: