‘Dune 2’ Made a Mess of Frank Herbert’s Warning


The Huge Image

  • Frank Herbert’s message in
    warns towards surrendering to charismatic leaders.
  • Denis Villeneuve alters the story within the
    movie, resulting in a muddled antihero idea.
  • Dune: Half Two
    dilutes the risks of heroism and lacks visible help for the cautionary message.

On the finish of Dune: Part Two, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) instructions that his legions of Fremen must be led to “paradise,” the start of a holy struggle that can sweep throughout the identified universe. It’s a wave of violence Paul has foreseen since his arrival on Arrakis and spent so lengthy attempting to keep away from. However the prophecy that led a younger duke’s rise to management among the many Fremen is too highly effective a drive to be managed as soon as unleashed. These two components – the charismatic chief and the actions of his followers – are on the core of one of many central messages of Frank Herbert’s book series. However that message has ended up a bit muddled within the two-part movie adaptation.

Dune: Part Two

Paul Atreides unites with Chani and the Fremen whereas searching for revenge towards the conspirators who destroyed his household.

Launch Date
March 1, 2024

Denis Villeneuve

166 minutes

Frank Herbert , Jon Spaihts , Denis Villeneuve

Frank Herbert’s Warning in ‘Dune’ Was To Watch out for Heroes

As soon as Dune and its sequels caught on and interviewers got here calling, Frank Herbert was beneficiant in sharing his inspirations for the series. He mentioned the deliberate however unwritten article a few program to regulate sand dunes that first sparked his creativeness, his considerations about ecology, the life of T. E. Lawrence, and political and non secular patterns all through historical past, feudalism and messianism amongst them. From this cocktail of concepts got here Dune and Paul Atreides, son of a noble duke, a boy bred and educated in nice martial ability and superhuman talents, and the beneficiary, when he involves Arrakis, of long-seeded legends of a messiah from one other world: the Mahdi, the Lisan al Gaib.

Paul and his mom, the Lady Jessica of the Bene Gesserit, each reap the benefits of the prophecy with a view to survive, although not with out reservations because of the ferocity of the Fremen’s battle prowess – and the depth of their perception. Within the novel, as within the movie, Paul in the end sees his efforts to forestall a Fremen jihad in his title as hopeless, however he nonetheless performs his half because the Lisan al Gaib to avenge his murdered father and take the throne from Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, holding his knife over his head in Dune.
Picture by way of Warner Bros. 

Paul’s second of conquer his enemies ends the primary Dune guide. It was an ending Herbert stated was “[deliberate] high camp,” an opportunity to have enjoyable at sure characters’ expense and to abruptly finish the story with the reader wanting extra. When it got here time to ship in Dune Messiah and Kids of Dune, nevertheless, Herbert was much less playful. Even inside Dune itself, which performs out alongside a fairly archetypal “hero’s journey” state of affairs, Paul’s visions of the future and his futile makes an attempt to keep away from the jihad he sees undermine his victory.

Within the sequels, it’s undermined fully. Fremen society is corrupted by energy, Paul’s sister goes mad whereas appearing as regent, billions of individuals throughout the Imperium die, and prescient visions go away Paul remoted and burdened with data of a horrible future he can’t carry himself to face.

This descent of Paul’s throughout three books illustrates a key notion of Dune, not less than in its preliminary trilogy: the risks of surrendering our pondering to charismatic leaders. As heroic as Paul is and as righteous as his and the Fremen’s trigger seems to be at first, slavish devotion to him provides no checks on his energy and awakens impulses he can’t handle. Or, as Herbert himself as soon as put it: “The underside line of [Dune] is: watch out for heroes. Significantly better [to] rely by yourself judgment, and your individual errors.”

The Message of the ‘Dune’ books is evident; Within the Movies, It is Inconsistent

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atriedes and Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha sword fighting in Dune: Part Two
Picture by way of Warner Bros.

Frank Herbert spelled out his tackle what he as soon as known as the “superhero syndrome” fairly plainly in interviews, typically at some size. There’s no room for ambiguity concerning the penalties of Paul’s selections after listening to the creator expound on them. However when you haven’t learn or listened to any of Herbert’s interviews and simply learn the primary guide, the purpose isn’t pushed in so forcefully. That’s to not say it isn’t clear. Paul’s interior monologues convey his worry of the longer term jihad clearly sufficient, and his and Jessica’s efforts to reap the benefits of Fremen prophecy aren’t precisely buried. However within the novel, the darkish aspect to Paul’s hero’s journey in Dune is illustrated by motion greater than it’s expounded upon by prose and dialogue. I hesitate to name the message refined, however it’s one side of Dune that falls along Andrew Stanton’s maxim: give an viewers two and two, however allow them to get to 4 on their very own.

For those who ask author/director Denis Villeneuve, such an area for readers so as to add issues up backfired on Herbert. “He felt that the readers misunderstood him,” Villeneuve told the A.V. Club. He stated that Dune Messiah was written to counter mistaken impressions that Paul was a spotless hero. Herbert, for his half, stated that Dune Messiahwas rejected by John W. Campbell’s Analog Magazine for straying into anti-hero territory, however he additionally claimed that the primary three Dune entries had been one guide in his personal thoughts. To keep away from such ambiguity, Villeneuve modified the story by introducing a component of skepticism towards the prophecy in Fremen society, embodied largely by Chani (Zendaya), and reframing the ending by Chani’s eyes as she takes Paul’s embrace of messianism as a betrayal and publicity of his energy lust.

Zendaya as Chani in Dune 2 dressed as a fremen soldier in the middle of the battlefield
Picture by way of Warner Bros. Footage

Earlier than that ending, the skeptics among the many Fremen have ample alternative to voice their contempt for spiritual prophecies and, in Chani’s case, their worry of being manipulated and enslaved by such legends. Paul himself is extra immune to any trappings of the Lisan al Gaib determine, for for much longer. He even will get into an argument together with his mom over her efforts to shore up religion within the legends, an agenda she pursues with fewer reservations than within the guide, and one which’s introduced in a much more overtly malicious mild than it was on the web page.

Such insistence on the risks of messianism leaves no room for ambiguity, however it additionally dangers gilding the lily. For all of the dialogue telling the viewers how mistaken these Mahdi legends are and the way harmful it might be for Paul to embrace them, the movie doesn’t present something extra than what was within the first guide.

Within the first guide, the jihad (a phrase noticeably absent from each of Villeneuve’s movies, regardless of its ubiquitous presence within the novels) hasn’t occurred but. The rot in Fremen society from energy hasn’t occurred but. The one targets of Fremen violence are the Harkonnens and the Sardaukar, transparently evil forces whose intentions for the Fremen are genocidal. Manipulation and annihilation current a dire alternative, however Dune: Half Two suffers from stressing the risks of the previous a lot with out examples – and regardless of the latter being the more serious evil.

The Antihero Idea Is Muddled by Dune: Half Two’s Adjustments From the E-book

An excessive amount of speak stressing Dune’s hero warning with out enough help is an ironic pitfall for Dune: Half Two to fall into, given Villeneuve’s stated frustration with overreliance on dialogue. However one other ironic consequence of the modifications is the muddling of the message towards heroes. Take Paul’s stronger and longer denial of any messianic identification within the movie. What modifications his thoughts, precisely? Within the guide, it’s a choice he dances round, his prescient visions haunting him all of the whereas, till an unexpected assassination try pushes him to drink the Water of Life.

In Villeneuve’s movie, Paul is triggered when Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) takes out one sietch (Fremen group). Keep in mind that, within the movie, the Fremen have lasers that may take out Harkonnen ships with one shot, and Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) simply put the Atreides household atomics again into Paul’s fingers. Nevertheless horrible the casualties from Feyd-Rautha’s assault are, that’s the one actual Harkonnen victory towards the Fremen proven within the movie. Absolutely there’s house to regulate methods and regain the higher hand with out recourse to psychedelic worm juice and an abrupt about-face on the prophecies.

Paul’s reticence is made into a part of his enchantment to the spiritual zealots among the many Fremen. Humility is taken as one other signal that he’s the true Lisan al Gaib. However he retains up that reticence when it brings him no revenue. He appears dead-set towards being deified till it’s obligatory for the story that he isn’t. And when he makes that change in pondering, he goes complete hog. His continued efforts to keep away from or comprise a common jihad, proper up till his duel with Fayd-Rautha, are achieved away with.

Chani looking to the distance in Dune: Part Two
Picture by way of Warner Bros.

One might nicely argue that the modifications to Paul strengthen Herbert’s warning. However apart from Paul’s reversal on messianism being a lot extra abrupt within the movie, it’s value contemplating a few of Herbert’s longer explanations of his antihero theme. Greater than as soon as, he emphasised that Paul was a heroic determine in Dune. “I labored to create a frontrunner…who can be actually a sexy, charismatic particular person,” he told Bryant Gumbel, “for all the nice causes.” In a joint interview with David Lynch forward of the 1984 Dune’s launch, Herbert famous that the majority messiahs in historical past had been reforming figures with good trigger to problem the powers that be, and that Paul was not solely in that custom, however an “trustworthy, reliable, loyal to his individuals” chief anybody would wish to observe.

The deadly flaw in such leaders, Herbert went on, was within the response to them. No matter selections such leaders make, proper or mistaken, are slavishly obeyed and amplified by their followers, creating new energy buildings that entice corruptible people. In different phrases, Dune is a two-part warning: watch out for heroes, but in addition watch out for the unquestioning legions who can pull them alongside.

In casting Paul’s growth in such an overtly unfavorable (and arbitrary) mild, Dune: Half Two dilutes the intoxicating charisma and heroism that sweeps Paul and the Fremen up. And by injecting skepticism among the many Fremen, the movie dilutes the hazard of the legions. Paul, and the prophecy he tries to take over, are doubted, questioned, and resisted all through. And with the commentary towards heroes operating forward of any acts which may illustrate it, Dune’s cautionary story involves a confused mess.

Dune: Half Two is now in theaters.

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