Like most big budget movies that were supposed to come in 2020, Dune too was postponed to 2021 all thanks to the pandemic. It’s been a while, but it is finally here.
The thing with fantasy sci-fi, is that often, you can’t catch or recall all the details and intricacies of the story.
So it is time for some digging to find out what we might have missed or did not notice in the film. Some of these details I have put together, explain numerous things and also give insight into what is coming up next.
Here’s everything you might have missed in Dune.
1. There are no Computers in Dune
There is actually no presence of any form of artificial intelligence in the movie universe. At least not the kind of computers we know.
One thing that we can notice are ornithopters (planes flown by the Atreides) that function based on speed and navigational skills. This does not really add up, considering the universe of Dune is set in the future.
The future as depicted seems quite set with huge space ships which are used by the houses to ship spices across the universe. But there is a reason.
Years before the events of Dune, human beings waged a war against an artificial intelligence being called Omnius. This happened because humans had become over dependent on machines. If you ask me, Herbert was throwing a legit personal attack on us!
This war is known as the Butlerian Jihad. The survivors of this war came up with the idea that humans cannot be replaced. So, the use of thinking machines like computers were banned by the interstellar law.
Since Dune is set far in the future, these events too are set in the future, but happened before the events of Dune. That explains why we see no computers in the universe.
2. The Slow Blade is Able to Penetrate the Shield
Though the shields in Dune are immune to laser weapons and other such dangers, they are vulnerable to slow-moving hand weapons such as the blade.
Gurney Halleck had warned Paul about this during his training in the film. So the shield cannot make the user invincible. Gurney also tells Paul that going for a killing blow at first can lead to defeat, which is why skills such as fencing are so vital to warfare.
Soldiers like Gurney and Duncan are extremely proficient swordsmen and are able to move their swords fast enough to catch their enemy’s vulnerabilities, but also slow enough to penetrate the shield.
It is a total skill which is unique to the warfare technique of Dune.
3. The Bull Imagery of House Atreides
The bull seems to be like the emblem of House Atreides and has appeared quite a few times in the movie as well. The first time we see the bull is on Paul’s grandfather’s grave. There was a carving of a man fighting a bull at the site.
The next time, we see a bull’s head hanging in the Atreides palace in the movie. They even carry the totem to Arrakis. In Arrakis, Paul can be seen playing with a bronze statue of a bull as well. So the bull is pretty important for the Atreides.
This is so as Leto’s father Paulus Atreides was killing by a bull during a bullfight. The Salusan Bull is a symbol of anger and violence for the Atreides. In the books, the bulls have two brains and multiple horns. In the movie, we see the bull head with just two horns though.
4. Paul’s Blue Eyes in his Vision
In one of the waking visions of Paul in the movie, he is shown to have blue eyes like that of the Fremen, the native people of Arrakis. Paul was fighting for Arrakis but with the characteristic blue eyes of the Fremen.
According to the books, the blue eyes is not a genetic feature of the Fremen. It is something that can happen to anyone after prolonged exposure to the spice in Arrakis. Since the spice is present in every element of Arrakis – in the air the Fremen breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink and the ground they walk on.
Constant exposure to the spice and consumption of it is what gave Paul those blue eyes. Another thing to notice is when Paul talks about vengeance and the war to avenge his father. He is also clearly siding with the native Fremen, so this is indicative of the upcoming decisions he will take which we will see in part 2.
5. The Influence of Spice on Paul’s Vision
In the beginning of the film itself, we get a glimpse of Paul’s visions which are supposed to be glimpses into the future. He sees the planet of Arrakis, the death of Duncan Idaho, war and also a Fremen girl in a still suit.
The Bene Gesserict seems interested in his visions for their own set of reasons. There is a brief moment in the movie that can explain these visions. In one scene, Paul goes into the desert to rescue a group of spice miners under the threat of wormsign.
Golden motes are shown flickering in the sand, which indicated the presence of spice. This is when Paul gets a large dose of the famous spice that is so important in Arrakis. This is what awakens his latent powers of seeing the future.
Paul’s prophetic dreams turn into waking visions after this. This means that the spice awakens and strengthen Paul’s ability to see prophetic visions of the future that will become both a blessing and a curse for the Atreides.
6. The Diamond Tattoo on Dr Yueh’s Forehead
Dr Yueh is the one who ultimately betrays House Atreides, which leads to the Harkonnen attack on them. Yueh did it because he believed that they could free his wife who they were torturing. Unfortunately, the Harkonnens did not keep their word and Yueh had to learn it the hard way.
The diamond symbol that he has on his forehead is also the one which he marks on Paul’s seat after he packed a survival kit for Paul and Jessica during the Harkonnen attack. So clearly it has some deeper significance.
The black diamond is symbolic of Dr Yueh’s training at the Suk Inner School. The graduates of this school wear silver rings on their shoulders and have a black diamond tattoo on their foreheads to signify that they have completed an advanced conditioning protocol.
This protocol prevents them from betraying their patients or violating the oath they took as a doctor. It is because of this Suk mark that Leto trusted Yueh at once. Only a Suk would be able to gain the complete trust of Duke Leto, making him the perfect trump card for Baron to use.
In the books, Piter, the Harkonnen Mentat found a way to make the Suk doctor breach the Suk conditioning by kidnapping and torturing Dr Yueh’s wife Wanna. They blackmailed Yueh by putting mental pressure on him.
This created a loop hole in his oath of loyalty. He broke his oath to protect his wife. So in that sense he did break his oath.
7. Thufir Hawat’s Eyes
During the grand ceremony in Caladan to mark to Atreides takeover of the stewardship of Arrakis, there were small details to notice which hold some importance.
In the scene, Duke Leto asks his advisor Thufir Hawat how much the proceedings had cost the Emperor. While he was working out the numbers, his eyes become white. This was an odd development which was not directly explained in the movie.
Thufir is a Mentat. Mentats are extremely intelligent people who have been conditioned in such a way that they can hold huge amounts of information and work out advanced workings and computations.
They are the human alternatives to computers or other such thinking machines which have been banned by law in the Dune universe. Piter De Vries is also a Mentat, but serves the Harkonnens.
So while we see Thufir Hawat making the calculations, his eyes turn white which is probably like the “loading” sign for these human replacements.
8. Bene Gesserict Cleared the Path for Paul and Jessica
In one of the most important scenes in the film, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserict visits Paul on Caladan to test him. After Paul passes the test, Jessica and the Reverend Mother has a conversation.
Here, she makes an interesting comment – “a path has been cleared.” It is easy to skip this but this is actually more important that you think.
Consider some important incidents such as Shadout Mapes’ religious extremism after presenting Jessica with the crysknife during a sort of interview of her to become a maid. Then there is Liet and Stilgar’s theory that Paul and Jessica fulfills a prophecy.
There is also the theory that Paul might be Lisan Al-Gaib, the messiah of the Fremen. Stilgar also uses the term “sayyadina” referring to Jessica after he sees her Bene Gesserict skills.
Jessica is partially a member of the Bene Gesserict. She herself says that they spent thousands of years crossing bloodlines to give rise to the Kwisatz Haderach aka the savior figure.
And all of these events are a part of the “path” that the Bene Gesserict cleared for Paul and Jessica.
The Bene Gesserict has an initiative called the Missionaria Protectiva. In this plan, primitive cultures are seeded with Bene Gesserict symbols so that if a sister who is in trouble is to find them, she might be able to con her way into being a messiah figure.
This Missionaria Protectiva has touched the Fremen, which is precisely why they consider Jessica to be some kind of priestess aka sayyadina. Jessica also knows the correct words to say to trigger Shadout Mapes as their entire faith is a construction of the Bene Gesserict.
9. About Dune
Dune (also known as Dune: Part One) is an American sci-fi film based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, directed by Denis Villeneuve.
Part One introduced the planet of Dune/Arrakis, the only place where the enhancer drug “Melange” is found and sought out by many. The Atreides House is sent to the planet as the ruling Duke, as part of their adversaries’ trap. However, the Atreides are aware of the same and aim to defend Dune and their house.
The ensemble cast is made up of Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.