As a new movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune is coming from director Denis Villeneuve, the time has come to lift the lid on an untold story, the 1990s adaptation that never was. We dish the dirt on the inside story!
Michael Mann, fresh from making Al Pacino and Robert Di Nero’s farewell Heat (not farewell to making movies, just farewell to making good movies) landed the directors job in a move that caused some consternation amongst studio execs, especially the ones who had seen The Keep.
In the end Mann didn’t contribute much to the Dune project, just spending a few months working on the colour scheme, “it was all green and blues” said an insider. “and an awful lot of colours of sand”.
Mann’s time on the project was curtailed when the studio wouldn’t let him end 80% of the dialogue with the words “slick” or “sport”. Shortly after the studio canned the entire project to fund Speed 2: Cruise Control. At that time Alien 3 was in living memory so everyone hated science fiction. It was still a couple of years before The Matrix made everyone love sci-fi again, then a few years later The Matrix Revolutions made everyone hate it again.
The only element of the Dune project finished was the masterful soundtrack by IX. In a bold and unusual move, Mann hired IX to provide the music, figuring the soundtrack would be so damn good he’s just make the movie around the soundtrack to fit. And how right he was, for IX’s soundtrack is a luscious, rich, evocative work, avoiding the cliches and pitfalls of the art. It shimmer and throbs at the right places and burst into rich, dramatic life at the right places. IX’s soundtrack would later be released under the title System VII and can be bought on bandamp here.
Michael Mann instead went on to make 1999’s The Insider, a movie so dull it might as well have starred Dustin Hoffman.
Among other works, IX was commissioned to provide the soundtrack for the PS1 game G-Police, in which gunships cruise around cityscapes, doing patrols and whatnot. His work so perfectly captured the sound of the cities depicted below their domes, and what sort of lives the people who lived there would lead, from the night clubs to the back alley drug deals, that the makers of the game realised the music was so good in fact, it would only draw attention to the how average their impossibly tricky bloody game was. So they replaced it with some generic stuff instead. IX’s soundtrack became 6EQUJ5 (reviewed here and available here). Over seven hours of G-Police longplay is available to watch here.
Considering that Villeneuve’s Dune movie adaptation is coming, it’s time to bring IX’s work to a new audience. And bearing in mind that the hired composer this time is Hans Zimmer; not always the king of subtlety, or dare we say, variety, it’s very tempting to say that System VII will be better than the one we end up with.
Or to be less controversial, IX’s work is easily on a par with Hollywood composers.