Dune: part two. What to expect from the first blockbuster of the year

On February 29, the second part of Denis Villeneuve’s fantastic film Dune will be released in Ukraine. We will once again behold the distant future of humanity and the planet Arrakis, where incredible treasures and terrible danger lurk in the desert. We offer you to recall what we were shown in the first part and take a look at the events of the upcoming movie.


Planet Arrakis is back on the movie screens

On Thursday, February 29, the second part of Dune will be released in Ukraine — a day earlier than in the rest of the world. The first part of this sci-fi film was released in 2021. It won 6 Oscars and was nominated for four more. However, that’s not the main reason why science fiction fans are waiting for the sequel.

Dune is based on the novel of the same name by American science fiction writer Frank Herbert, which was published in 1965 and almost immediately became a cult favorite. After all, the author managed to create an incredibly complex and interesting picture of the distant future, where the fate of the entire human-inhabited universe is decided on a single planet through epic battles, bloody intrigues and superhuman efforts.

Українське видання роману Френка Герберта
Ukrainian edition of Frank Herbert’s novel. Source: www.yakaboo.ua

The novel was the first to win one of the major prizes in contemporary literary fiction, and everyone was waiting for its film adaptation, but directors were simply afraid to take it on. The text of Dune is too long and full of important (and at the same time very exotic) events to write a screenplay for a Hollywood movie without turning it into a set of incomprehensible scenes.

The first attempt to create a movie based on Dune lasted eight years and ended with several eminent directors admitting defeat. Then, in 1984, David Lynch’s film was finally released. It was very expensive by the standards of the time, with a lot of celebrities in cast and expensive special effects. However, the need to edit the film so that it fit into the standard cinema time led to the very effect that was anticipated: lay viewers did not understand anything at all, and experts criticized what they saw.

In 2000, Dune and its sequel were attempted to be filmed as a miniseries, but it was again unsuccessful. The novel gained a reputation as unscreenable, and it was like that when Denis Villeneuve approached it, resolute not to repeat Lynch’s mistake. He decided to split the plot into two parts.

What was shown in the first part

The first movie begins in the year 10 191. This is not the year of our era, but the Guild era, and according to our calendar, it is the 21st millennium. During this time, humanity has managed to settle throughout the Galaxy, create artificial intelligence, start and win a war against it, and ban intelligent machines forever. All of this is not told in the first movie, but it is important for understanding what the audience is shown.

But Denis Villeneuve has masterfully portrayed what has happened to society. Without intelligent computers, industrial production has regressed, society has slipped into feudalism, and now the planets are ruled by barons and dukes, with an emperor standing over them all.

At the same time, to maintain at least some level of civilization, people had to train their brains. That’s how the human computers Mentats and Ben Hesserit, who have almost magical powers, appeared. They were shown in the first movie in some detail. However, the fact that interstellar travel relies on the ability of the navigators of the Merchant Guild to predict the future, and that this ability is the only thing that binds the Empire together, was hardly explained.

The female order of Bene Hesserit has been weaving the nets of their intrigues through the Dune universe for millennia. Source: www.inverse.com

It is from all of the above that the importance of spices stems. It is a drug that makes the brains of all the above categories work properly, which means it keeps the whole civilization going.

And the problem is that it is mined only on one planet, Arrakis, also called Dune. It is there that the emperor sends the Atrid ducal family to establish spice production. Their resettlement there takes up most of the first movie. At the same time, Arrakis turns out to be a trap set for them by the Harkonnen house, which is hostile to the Atrides, with the participation of the emperor.

In parallel, we have the storyline of the duke’s son Paul Atrid, who turns out to be the product of Bene Hesserit’s extremely long genetic program to create a superhuman — a product that is a bit unexpected and unpredictable for the experimenters themselves.

Пол Атрід — головний герой «Дюни»
Paul Atreed is the protagonist of Dune. Source: academics.winona.edu

It is important to note that the Dune itself is far from a paradise, but a desert planet completely devoid of water. Therefore, the water on it is worth the price of gold. And the local population, called the Freemen, is so harsh that even children attack strangers with knives.

In addition, hundreds of meters long worms live in the desert, constantly trying to eat the spice harvesting equipment along with the humans, and they play a leading role in the ecology of the planet.

The first movie ends with the Atrides’ home destroyed, but Paul and his mother Jessica have fled to the desert.

What to expect in the second movie

The plot of the second movie is known in advance to everyone who is more or less familiar with the book. It is unlikely that Denis Villeneuve will dare to change anything seriously, and the trailers only confirm this. The only question is how he will show it. The first thing we should expect from him is a depiction of the Freemen’s life in Sich.

У другому фільмі герої мають їздити на піщаних хробаках
In the second movie, the characters will ride on sand worms. Source: www.inverse.com

The word “Sich” is our Ukrainian Sich, and Herbert borrowed it from a novel about the war in the North Caucasus. However, in Dune, it is just a caves settlement of tribes, and the Freemen themselves do not have Ukrainian ethnic characteristics. Here, it will be difficult for the filmmakers not to distort the spirit of the original, because it combines things that are difficult to combine. The locals produce high-tech products, although they live in caves… Their culture has distinct Arab roots, but they are not Muslims.

The second interesting thing you should expect from the movie, and which will definitely be there, is sandworm rides. Yes, the Freemen are able to lure giant monsters and use them as a vehicle, and it’s worth watching.

Another thing that is extremely difficult to film is Alia, Paul’s sister, who is born in the desert. In the novel, this is a little girl who, before she is born, has received the memory of many generations of adult women and behaves accordingly, which frightens everyone around her and plays a prominent role in the plot. We can only guess whether this image will be recreated on screen.

У трейлері нової Дюни племінника барона харконена показали лисимя, хоча за книгою в нього чорні кучері
In the trailer of the new Dune, Baron Harkonnen’s nephew is shown bald, although according to the book he has black curls. Source: variety.com

It also remains unknown how much Denis Villeneuve will delve into the ecology of Arrakis. The fact is that Freemen actively collect water and plant plants, reducing the desert area. And sandworms, which are the source of spices, do not live in humid conditions. So there is a deep and complex conflict of interest there.

What will be shown for sure is the imperial house of Corrino, Emperor Shaddam IV and his eldest daughter Irulan. This is the other side of the conflict — the people who rule the empire and weave intrigues. We will also be shown how the upper class is entertained in the 22nd millennium, and this is where Vladimir Harkonnen’s younger nephew, Feyd-Rauta, who will play an important role in the story’s finale, is finally to appear on the screens.

We can also expect a lot of mysticism and battle scenes in the movie. Paul will get his superhuman powers to the fullest. And the final battle will take place on Arrakis, in which the fate of not only the planet itself but the entire human-inhabited universe will be decided.

It is worth remembering that Dune is only the first of several novels in the series. And if Denis Villeneuve wants to continue, he still has enough material to adapt, so he can make more than one more movie.