Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, adapting both novels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune novel by Frank Herbert, is a sequel to the miniseries produced by the United States-based Sci Fi Channel. It was directed by Greg Yaitanes, adapted for television by John Harrison, with music by Brian Tyler. The name of the miniseries is somewhat of a misnomer, because the miniseries does not portray the events of the novel Children of Dune until its second and third parts; the first part is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the first sequel to Dune, the novel Dune Messiah.
Just as the first chapter in this miniseries was considered more faithful to the novels than the movies that preceded it, Children of Dune worked to correct the mistakes of its own predecessor. Some fans had complaints about the color of the eyes of the Fremen, as they appeared to be almost phosphorescent in the first Sci Fi miniseries, not the "blue within blue" described by Herbert. The eye color was toned down in the sequel to a more accurately representative deep but vibrant blue. This miniseries is also noted for its highly successful soundtrack, composed by Brian Tyler.
- Spoiler warning! Plot and/or ending details follow.
This three part, six-hour miniseries (running time 266 minutes) picks up where the previous one left off. Paul Atreides (Alec Newman), also known as Muad'Dib, has led forth the Fremen of Arrakis to overthrow the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV and forced the Corrino family into exile on Salusa Secundus. Now leader of House Corrino, Princess Wensicia (Susan Sarandon) continues to plot during her exile.
Through the various interlocking schemes of the Bene Gesserit, Spacing Guild, Tleilaxu, House Corrino, and rebel Fremen, Paul's authority is challenged. Paul is attacked with a stone burner that causes him to go blind. Due to his extraordinary prescient abilities, however, he is still able to see in some manner.
The first part ends with the birth of Paul's children, by his concubine, Chani (Barbara Kodetova), who is severely weakened by the childbirth. Upon her death, Paul's ability to see even though he is blind disappears, rendering him at a disadvantage when the Tleilaxu face dancer Scytale (Martin McDougall) triggers the ghola mentat Duncan Idaho's brainwashing (Edward Atterton). Duncan is forced to confront his original memories, but ultimately remains loyal to his Duke Paul and betrays Scytale.
It is at this point that Paul discovers his twin children are preborn and prescient as well. Paul's son Leto (James McAvoy), who has been appearing to him as a young adult in prescient visions, allows his father to "use his eyes" in order to react quickly enough to kill Scytale before the face dancer can kill the children.
At the conclusion of the first part, Paul walks off into the desert, a "single, blind Fremen," in reference to the ancient Fremen custom of abandoning blind members of the tribe to the great worms of Arrakis. His children, now heirs to his empire, are left in the care of their aunt Alia (Daniela Amavia), who is tortured by her own prescience. She turns to Duncan Idaho for emotional support and comfort.
The second part opens a considerable time after the conclusion of the first part. Paul's children, Ghanima (Jessica Brooks) and Leto, are now in young adulthood (unlike in the books, where they were only nine years old), and under the eye of their aunt Alia, who is regent of Paul's empire. Lady Jessica (Alice Krige), mother to Paul and Alia, (whom their father, the first Duke Leto, never married for political reasons) arrives on Arrakis, ostensibly to visit her grandchildren. Alia fears that her mother has resumed her allegiance to the Bene Gesserit. A character known only as the Preacher has surfaced at court, and the popular rumour is that he is in fact Paul Muad'Dib. The Preacher speaks out against Alia's ritualistic, fundamentalist rule, but Alia refuses to get rid of him because she cannot be absolutely sure of his identity.
As the episode progresses, Alia's control over her own mind weakens further. All Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers obtain the memories of their female ancestors after being exposed to the Spice Agony. Alia as a pre-born child is regarded as an Abomination: in the past, such pre-born children have been overwhelmed by the consciousnesses of their ancestors (both female and male) and gone mad. In Alia's case, one particular personality manifests itself, that of the dead Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Ian McNeice), who was killed by Alia's own hand. The Baron is in fact Jessica's father, and thus Alia's grandfather. This shade strikes a bargain with Alia, whereby he silences the other personalities, and in return she allows the hedonistic Baron access to her senses.
Meanwhile, House Corrino launches yet another assassination attempt on the Atreides heirs, in the form of vicious tigers that are controlled via remote control. Leto uses this opportunity to fake his own death in order to sojourn into the desert. Like his father, his prescience is forcing him to seek answers to certain questions.
The conclusion to the miniseries, part three entails the return of Leto to Alia's court. Stuck in the middle of a brewing civil war, Alia has to deal not only with the external pressure of rebel Fremen, but the internal pressures of the ever-strengthening Baron Harkonnen. Formerly loyal naib Stilgar (Steven Berkoff) becomes the leader of the rebels after Duncan Idaho forces his hand by murdering the priest Javid (Rick Young) in Stilgar's sietch. Alia had recently taken Javid as a lover, and grown ever distant from Idaho.
Princess Wensicia visits Arrakis, bringing her son Farad'n (Jonathan Brüün) with the intent of wedding him to Ghanima, now the sole heir of the empire. Farad'n betrays his bitter mother, however, by revealing that she was in fact the instigator behind Leto Atreides's death. In a rage, Alia orders Wensicia imprisoned, and Farad'n would have met a similar fate had not Ghanima intervened.
While rebel Fremen summon worms to ride toward Arrakeen (capital of Arrakis), Leto returns from the deep desert. He has absorbed several sandtrout as part of a destined transformation into something that could lead humanity along the Golden Path and prevent humanity's destruction. The sandtrout is slowly transforming his skin, causing his metamorphosis into something that transcends human. In addition to his already superhuman prescience and Bene Gesserit-like abilities, Leto survives a Coriolis sandstorm and can run extremely fast now.
Leto arrives in Arrakeen shortly before the wedding of Ghanima and Farad'n; Ghanima had intended to murder Farad'n herself on their wedding night, but Leto's arrival ends her plan for vengeance. Leto confronts Alia, and Alia very nearly loses herself to the Baron Harkonnen within. In the end, however, she chooses to commit suicide rather than surrender herself unto 'Abomination' and dies in her mother's arms. Lady Jessica returns to Caladan, and invites Irulan to accompany her, but Irulan declines; she intends to stay on Arrakis for the sake of Ghanima and Farad'n's children. Ghanima informs Farad'n in a private moment that 'as my mother was never a wife, so will you never be a husband'.