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Film / Dune (2021)

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Dreams are messages from the deep.

Dune, or Dune: Part One (stylized as ᑐ ᑌ ᑎ ᕮ), is an epic Space Opera Science Fiction film and an adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal 1965 novel Dune, produced by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve and co-written by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth, and covers roughly the first two-thirds of the novel.note 

The story takes place in the far future of humanity, in the Galactic Padishah Empire. By Imperial decree, Duke Leto of House Atreides is given stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe, the Spice Melange. The Spice is a drug that extends human life, provides superhuman levels of thought, and makes foldspace travel possible.

Although Leto knows the opportunity is an intricate trap set by his enemies, House Harkonnen (who were in charge of harvesting the Spice on Arrakis before and had to withdraw), he takes his Bene Gesserit concubine Lady Jessica, young son and heir Paul, and most of his trusted advisers to Arrakis. Leto takes control of the Spice mining operation, which is made perilous by the presence of gigantic sandworms. A surprise attack by the Harkonnens and Imperial Sardaukar then overwhelms House Atreides, and Paul and Jessica flee in the desert in search of the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis. While on the run, Paul has visions of a possible destiny for himself, and a bloody one at that, which might change the galaxy forever...

The cast is pretty star-studded, with Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Zendaya as Chani, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban Harkonnen, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yueh, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet-Kynes.

The film was originally scheduled for release on December 18, 2020, but was pushed back to October 22, 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The film had its world premiere on September 3, 2021 at the Venice Film Festival and was released in most countries ahead of the US release. It was simultaneously released in theaters and on HBO Max in the US.

Dune: Part Two was greenlit right after the release of Part One. It covers the remainder of the book and was released on March 1, 2024. Villeneuve is hopeful to do a third film based on Dune Messiah, and he has also been announced to direct the pilot for Dune: Prophecy, a live action Spin-Off series set in his film's universe and focusing on the Bene Gesserit, for Max. Diane Ademu-John is set to serve as showrunner. The Real-Time Strategy game Dune: Spice Wars, while technically not an adaptation of this movie, takes plenty of visual cues from it.

For the other live-action adaptations of Dune, see Dune (1984) and Frank Herbert's Dune.

Previews: Official Trailer and Official Main Trailer.

Dune provides examples of the following tropes:

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    Tropes A 
  • Accents Aren't Hereditary: Baron Harkonnen has Stellan Skarsgard's natural Swedish accent, which is not shared by anyone else in his House. Despite the Translation Convention in effect in the movie, this is justified to a degree in-universe given that Rabban is not from the same planet as the Baron (being born on Lankiveil, whereas the Baron is from Giedi Prime) and lived on Arrakis for many years, all of which would justify his having a different accent to the Baron.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: In the middle of Paul and Jessica's desperate flight into a sandstorm, a loud and chaotic event, the film cuts to a quiet scene of Baron Harkonnen's convalescence.
  • Action Prologue: The movie begins with a group of Fremen, including Chani and Jamis, attacking Harkonnen spice harvesters.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Gurney Halleck, described in the books as an "ugly lump of a man", is played by the ruggedly handsome Josh Brolin (although hair and makeup do shift the emphasis to "rugged" over "handsome").
    • The Baron himself is made much less unappealing, as he looks substantially lighter than his explicitly 400-pound novel version, and it additionally seems a lot of his weight here comes from being a very wide and built person, with real muscle under all the fat, rather than it being sheer obesity. Stellan Skarsgård's aristocratic features, still visible under all the makeup, also make him much better-looking than his bloated description from the book.
    • In the book, Rabban is described as short, ugly and fat, rather the opposite of everything his actor Dave Bautista is.
    • In the novel, Gaius Helen Mohiam is a decrepit old mystic repeatedly described as a fairytale witch, complete with a Sinister Schnoz, while in the film she is portrayed by the queenly, elegant Charlotte Rampling.
    • In the book, Mentats showed red stains on their lips caused by the Sapho juice they drink to boost their cognitive powers. In the film, this is represented more symbolically and artistically, with Mentats Thufir Hawat and Piter de Vries having just a black dot either painted or tattooed on their lower lip.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • In the sense of having special powers where they originally had none. Suk Doctors are not supposed to have superhuman skills in the novels, with their most uncanny trait being their mental conditioning meant to impede them from inflicting harm to their charges. In the film, Dr. Yueh seems to have the ability to read someone's vital signs and state of health solely by touching and feeling them. This ironically makes him closer to a person with Bene Gesserit training (which he actually does have, courtesy of his wife, though it's mostly used to lie more convincingly as well as analyse the truth of the Baron's words in the novel).
    • Baron Vladimir Harkonnen becomes more badass partially due to the fact that his anti-gravity devices can enable him to fly and hover in the air, instead of just assisting him with walking (though this element has been present in both previous adaptations). In the book, the Baron openly admits his physical weakness and him surviving the murder-suicide was a blatant Diabolus ex Machina relying on a chain of unlikely coincidences that all inexplicably line up; later in the book's end the Baron becomes a prime example of a Zero-Effort Boss, as even a child was able and did kill him as soon as there was nobody constantly protecting him. However, in this adaptation the Baron survives Leto's murder-suicide by using his own wits and the aforementioned anti-gravity devices to fly higher where there is less poison and survive long enough until help arrives, thus proving that he is at least harder to kill than all his men that were with him in that room. Also, even without considering suspensors, he's strong enough to cut a person's head with a simple knife, one-handed. As Denis Villeneve himself said in the interviews, Baron is basically a rhino in human form.
    • Duncan Idaho is generally shown to be more competent here, lacking his pathetic drunk scene and other less than stellar moments.
  • Adaptational Context Change: In the novel, the palm trees that lined the palace of a water-starved city were a sign of the Harkonnen reign, flaunting their water wealth to spite the native people. The movie describes them as sacred to the natives as representation of a dream for a better world,note  and the trees are tragically burned during the Harkonnen attack.
  • Adaptational Dumbass:
    • Rabban's moments of intelligence in the book, such as perceptively noting that the Harkonnens ought to do a head-count of the Fremen in case they become a threat or asking if the Emperor is aware that the Baron has managed to suborn a Suk doctor, are absent from the movie. He also tells the Baron that Paul and Jessica died in a sandstorm, a claim he appears to believe, making him come off as even less perceptive (in the book, the line is delivered by Captain Nefud, who the Baron notices acting twitchy when providing this report, suggesting that Nefud didn't fully trust it himself or knew the Baron would question it, but there's no indication of this in Rabban's demeanor).
    • The Baron accepts Rabban's statement that Paul and Jessica died from flying into a sandstorm, whereas his book counterpart flew into a rage when presented with this claim, knowing that it's premature to believe they're dead if the Harkonnens Never Found the Body. Additionally, in the book Piter and the Baron develop the plan to bring the downfall of House Atreides. While the Emperor aided and supported him, it was largely The Baron's scheme. In the movie, The Baron is depicted as a junior, albeit extremely willing, partner in The Emperor's ploy.
    • The Gurney from the books was a Warrior Poet that had always a famous quote or a song to recite completely by heart. In the film, he does say a couple of quotes, but one of them sounds like an everyday idiom, while the other is a Biblical line said immediately after being seen reading the Orange Catholic Bible, implying this version of him doesn't have such a good memory for those things.
    • For some unexplained reason, Dr. Yueh doesn't leave Jessica and Paul stillsuits, the most needed equipment to survive in Arrakis. He does leave a desert tent and an Atreides homing beacon, though.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Rabban didn't appear until at least halfway through the novel, while the film shows him in the very first minutes of the prologue, in a flashback narrated by Chani about the Harkonnen government of Arrakis.
    • The Harkonnen's "pet" is a strange spider-like creature strongly implied to be either a mutated human or a human-monster hybrid. In the novels, the whole concept of mutated beings like that (with the exception of the Guild Navigators, which this clearly isn't) will not appear until Heretics of Dune, set several millennia later, when the Tleilaxu show the ability to create genetically engineered cat-people named Futar.
  • Adaptational Intelligence:
    • Duke Leto activates his personal shield when he goes to check on Mapes lying on the ground, whereas in the book he considers it, but decides not to because he's in a narrow corridor and a shield will inhibit his movement and senses. It gives him a few scant seconds before the poison dart drills through the shield and into him.
    • The Baron also activates his own shield while approaching Leto, something he neglected to do in the book. His usage of it is more effective as it helps him survive the poison gas.
    • The omission of the warnings about The Mole gives this to House Atreides. In the novel, assorted members are warned no fewer than three times that there is a traitor in their midst, with some evidence planted to implicate Jessica might be the traitor. As a result, it becomes somewhat bothersome that no one suspects the actual traitor (though to be fair, the traitor was ruled out because Dr. Yueh had undergone conditioning intended to make him Incorruptible Pure Pureness). In the film, the Atreides miss the traitor simply because they have no reason to suspect one exists.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • As in most adaptations, Gaius Helen Mohiam's most sympathetic moments towards Jessica are excised, leaving her as a creepy hag and little more.
    • This Chani is more distant and hostile towards Paul and Jessica when they encounter the Fremen, while in the book she was comparatively cheerful and helpful, only becoming funnily pushy when they started marching towards the sietch in haste. The change is especially visible in the duel against Jamis: in the novel, Chani gave Paul advice on how to kill Jamis, while in the film, all her help is to wish Paul a dignified death and assure him Jamis will make it quick. It reflects differences in the whole film's continuity, as those Fremen by default are almost uniformly hostile to non-Fremen as a result of the 80 years of Harkonnen cruelty, while in the novel the Atreides managed to have more contact with them and Liet before Jessica and Paul reached them, making them more trusting. However, as per Fremen law, after winning the duel, Paul is now considered a Fremen as well.
    • Gurney Halleck is a gruff, stern soldier rather than the fun-loving guy of the book.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Inverted for the Baron Vladimir, who has no qualms about meeting people while in the nude (first in a sauna, the second in a healing bath); his novel counterpart never did that, and in the book, his robes are a lot more flashy, though the good Baron still has a long trail on his dress to look impressive when he levitates.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Ultimately, the Atreides themselves, as their more morally grey actions are erased. In this version, the Duke seemingly declared no kanly against the Baron at the beginning of the story, while the incursion to Giedi Prime that destroyed the Harkonnen spice reserves (which technically makes the Atreides those who attacked first in the conflict) is explicitly removed, with those reserves being mentioned to still exist afterwards.
    • The film's version of Dr. Kynes is noticeably more helpful and open with the Atreides at first, where the guy from the novel could be very aloof and spent more time detached from their workings and somberly judging them. This later extends to Adaptational Expansion given that she takes a bigger role in their favor.
    • The Baron's personality change has the effect of making him look like a tired, contemplative man rather than a vicious psycho, even if he is just as evil. He is never seen verbally abusing his clansmen, unlike in the novel, and his sexual deviation is also excised.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: The Voice is portrayed much differently than is described in the books, both in aesthetics and effects. Rather than it being a subtle voice that ensnares the will of the speaker by smart talk, it is represented here as a hellish, visceral roar that can forcefully order the listener/target around.
  • Adaptational Ugliness:
    • As is usual in adaptations, the Bene Gesserit and the Harkonnen are given unflattering attires and hairstyles that make them only creepily stylish at the best. Harkonnen men are all shaven bald and deadly pale, while Reverend Mother Mohiam wears a spider-shaped headdress with a chain veil.
    • Sardaukar are described as looking just like anybody in the books, and as such they can pass as Harkonnen troopers with only a change of clothes. In this version, they are made to look like cultic barbarians, with wild hair and beards (officially patterned after berserkers), also including head tattoos, and whenever they speak, it sounds like some kind of Black Speech that shouldn't come from a human throat.
    • The Voice itself. In the novels, it is supposed to sound like regular human talk, but in the film it is portrayed with sound effects that make it sound like a warped, demonic growl.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • In the book, Leto Atreides prematurely bites the poison capsule because in his delirium he mistakes Piter de Vries for Vladimir Harkonnen. In the movie he is indeed confronted by Baron Harkonnen, but while everyone in the room is killed by the poison cloud, the baron is protected by his shield and then manages to float to the ceiling (where he presumably is safe from the gas) and can later be retrieved and healed.
    • The lesson about never turning one's back to the room's door is given by Thufir in the book, but it's instead given by Gurney in the movie.
    • In the book, Jessica using her voice on the Harkonnen soldiers is a lot more insidious and subtle, while in the film she flat-out orders them to kill each other.
    • The workings of the space travel are changed, as the Heighliners are now portrayed as a mobile Portal Network rather than mere space-folding transports.
    • Homing missiles are shown as being a standard part of any Great House' military arsenal. This contradicts the books' lore, by which any missile smart enough to home on a target by itself would normally be forbidden as a Thinking Machine (even what guided weapons do exist in the books must always have a human operator nearby controlling them in real-time).
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • While book readers will know that Dr. Yueh's diamond tattoo marks him as a Suk doctor, there is no reference to his conditioning and how he is theoretically incapable of betrayal.
    • The Mentats are also relegated to a less important position in the plot; Paul's training as a Mentat is also not mentioned, with the focus being on his study of Bene Gesserit techniques.
    • Some scenes between the arrival of the Atreides on Arrakis and the Harkonnen attack (such as Jessica finding messages from Lady Fenring, the banquet hosted by the Atreides, and the subplot of Thufir Hawat mistakenly suspecting Jessica to be a threat) are excised.
    • In the book, the Spice Harvester was lost to the worm because the Carryall was redirected by Harkonnen infiltrators, part of a larger campaign of subversion and sabotage in preparation of open hostilities. In the movie, it was simply due to faulty equipment because the Harkonnens took most of their hardware with them and left the Atreides only junk to mine with.
    • In the book, the initial appearance of The Baron is accompanied by a long section explaining both his plan and the steps he's taken to get there. In the movie, this is trimmed considerably, and the plan is shown to the viewer more than told. However, a few lines remain "When is a gift not a gift?" Conversely, Leto has long conversations about his plan to survive the Harkonnen plot, as well as his long-term plans for Dune. This is likewise cut down to a few lines about ruling through "Desert Power."
    • In the book, the Shield Wall is a mountain range that blocks coriolis storms from reaching Arrakeen. In the movie, the shield wall simply is the city's curtain wall that somehow stops 5000-meter high sand storms.
      • It should be noted that there is also a, somewhat modest by comparison, mountain range surrounding Arrakeen as a whole. So the film's portrayal seems to be more on a utilitarian side of natural and artificial barriers.
    • In the book, the duel between Jamis and Paul occurs after the Fremen have moved to a more secure location, the Cave of Ridges. In the movie, presumably for reasons of pacing, this scene occurs much sooner, immediately after Paul and Jessica meet with the Fremen.
    • The movie never mentions "kanly" or the war-of-assassins, the limited style of open warfare between houses in order to prevent innocents or third parties being caught in the crossfire. In the book, Duke Leto, responding to courteous Harkonnen diplomacy (which is to say, a blatant attempt to lull him in a false sense of security before the inevitable hostilities), declares kanly on the Harkonnens to force the issue. Arguably the Atreides strike the first blow by raiding the Harkonnen spice reserves on Giedi Prime with the help of Fremen volunteers.
    • Spice is primarily established as the substance that enables FTL travel (and thus automatically the most important substance in the universe). In the book, there is a conspiracy that is just starting to break down to keep people from noticing exactly how vital Spice is for the universe. In the book, Spice is life-prolonging and can induce limited prescience; in the film, the former is only briefly mentioned and the latter only present in Paul. Indeed, Spice is only described as a psychoactive with ceremonial usage for the Fremen, Dr. Yueh attributes Paul's Spice-induced vision as an allergic reaction rather than an expected phenomenon.
    • The movie never shows nor explains the effect of a laser hitting a shield - a critical element of the book that contributes to its Schizo Tech universe. Hence, we are left to guess if the movie's universe keeps the deadly restriction, or if lasers are just ineffective against shielded targets.
    • The book has a scene set after the Harkonnen attack with Thufir Hawat fleeing with a few other Atreides survivors and tagging along Fremens, then the party is wiped out by Sardaukars, who capture him. He's later handed over to the Harkonnens. In the film, Hawat disappears from the story when the Harkonnens attack Arrakeen.
    • Similarly, Gurney Halleck's survival after the attack isn't shown, as the film doesn't have the scene where he is recruited by a party of smugglers.
    • At the point where the movie ends, in the book Paul has already found out through prescience that the Baron is Jessica's father and his maternal grandfather. It remains to be seen if the sequel will follow up on this.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The movie shows several scenes on the Atreides's ancestral planet which aren't in the book, like Jessica training Paul in the Voice, Paul asking Duncan to take him with him with the advance force to Arrakis, the coming of the Herald of the Change and representatives of the Imperial court and Spacing Guild, where Duke Leto officially takes on the responsibility of ruling Arrakis, and the departure of Atreides frigates from Caladan.
    • A scene unique to this movie shows just how precarious the Atreides' position on Arrakis is; a shot of a couple of containers containing spice harvested and refined by the Atreides on top of a single pallet, among many such pallets. In order to fulfill their Emperor-mandated quotum they will need to fill every single pallet. Every 25 days. Though not explicitly stated, failure to do so will surely invite the displeasure of the major powers in the galaxy, erode the power of the Atreides and even might force the Emperor to intervene, restore the flow of spice and punish the Atreides for their failure in their duty to the Empire, a danger arguably worse than the Emperor secretly conspiring with the Harkonnens against them.
    • The Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis happens mostly off-screen in the book, but is quite prominent in the movie, with battles at the space port and the storming of the Atreides compound shot in Villeneuve's minimalistic visual style, and include scenes not in the book like the Atreides air defense cannons opening fire on the attackers, the shield-buster bombs used to take out the Atreides frigates, the massive Harkonnen assault craft launching a missile barrage at the city and Idaho evading the beam of a ship-borne lasgun.
    • Very little of the Sardaukar's culture is shown in the books, with most of them appearing either to fight or to interact with superiors. In this film, an original scene set in their home planet Salusa Secundus shows them forming and performing bloody pre-war rituals. Interestingly, this addition expands a bit the ethnic lore of Dune, as just like Fremen descend from Arabian culture, the Sardaukar here have (per Roger Yuan and The Art and Soul of Dune) a mixture of feudal Japanese (fanatical devotion to the emperor, the way they use their swords) and Norse (beards, tall and muscular, overtone singing, human sacrifice and painting themselves with the sacrificial blood) culture. All of which go very well with the characterization of the Sardaukar as Proud Warrior Race Guys.
    • In the book, shields can only be penetrated by projectiles with low velocity, leading to the use of pistols with a muzzle velocity of a pellet gun to launch poison-tipped darts. In this movie, advanced propelled ammunition is used that can force its way through a shield. They also come in the form of ordnance large enough to destroy frigates.
    • In the books, shields are so effective and commonplace no projectile weapons are used at all, save for a few low-velocity guns that could breach them. However, the Harkonnens, suspecting the Atreides forces would take cover in an unshielded cave network, and possibly also ditch many of their shields as they are a liability on a planet infested with humongous sandworms enraged by them, brought heavy artillery (noted in-universe by the Harkonnens as being literal museum pieces) and other missile weapons with their invasion forces to take advantage of this even though it was unprecedented. In the movie, large projectile weapons seemed to be standard in a house's armory, and are used in battle by the Harkonnen assault ship and the Atreides defense emplacements.
    • In the books, no reason is given for the sandworms' attraction to vibration and rhythm, since they are mostly filter-feeders with no surface-dwelling prey. The movie shows that the worms emit rhythmic calls and tunnel by vibrating the sand, suggesting that they may seek these things out as a way of locating others of their own kind.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • Part One only explains the bare minimum for newcomers to understand the main conflicts, save for a few exposition scenes during Paul's studying sessions. Details like the role of Mentats, the Navigators or the Imperial Conditioning are left up in the air.
    • The movie doesn't explain Mentats, despite being an important element to the world of Dune. While Thufir Hawat's calculation and Prophet Eyes imply he's not a regular human (the viewer might assume he is a cyborg, given he has one such implant in the neck), one would have to read the books to understand that Hawat and the Baron's underling Piter de Vries are actually human computers.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • The Baron from the original novel was very polite and personable if his buttons weren't touched, and usually carried himself as a darkly funny guy. This films opts to portray him in a completely different manner, picturing the Baron as more monster than man, with a deep, growling voice, an inscrutable visage and a solemn demeanor of fewer words. The Baron in this film is also more willing to get his hands dirty, as he kills Dr. Yueh himself rather than have Piter do the deed as in the novel.
    • As in the first film adaptation, Piter de Vries is turned into a terse, taciturn servant, rather than the talkative psycho he was in the novel.
    • Rabban is made a violent Large Ham in this version. In the books, at least on-page, he was a subdued character, almost meek in comparison to the exuberant Baron (though this is how pretty much everyone but Piter behaves around the Baron, and it's still presumed he didn't earn the nickname "Beast" by being kind and nice).
    • Reverend Mohiam is much more ethereal and regal than her volatile, short-tempered literary version, only showing emotion when becoming smug in key moments.
    • The film makes a big emphasis on Jessica's inner conflicts, showing her often near to breaking down in tears, when in the book she was more of a stoic. Proof of it is that her filmic version can barely stammer the Litany against Fear whenever she needs it, while her novel version did it without trouble like a Zen Survivor.
    • Stilgar is substantially more jaded and blunt than in the book, where he was expressive and lively enough to have his own Boisterous Bruiser moments.
    • The Sardaukar as a whole receive a new characterization. In the book, they were stated to have a warrior religion, but were only pictured as just very disciplined and motivated soldiers, with most of their named members being of the Officer and a Gentleman type. In contrast, the film opts to portray their religion as a blood cult: they are shown engaging in Human Sacrifice, anointing themselves with the victims' blood, and performing massive ceremonies directed by a muezzin-like throat singer.
    • The Emperor in the book is both petty and paranoid and has very limited authority, constantly caught between the competing machinations of Bene Gesserit, the Navigator Guild, and the Choam Directorate. In fact, his motivation for attacking Dune in the books, aside from paranoia, is that he is all but ordered to by the Guild. In the film, not only is he firmly in charge but is The Chessmaster. He is the one who develops the scheme to crush House Atreides in a way that also exhausts House Harkonnen to the point of pliability. He also knows from the beginning that Kynes has turned and plans to have her killed indicating he knows a lot more about the Fremen than believed.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the book, there's an emotional distance between Jessica and the Duke, despite how they love one another, stemming from his refusal to actually marry her for political reasons and the fact that some of Leto's retainers openly do not trust her. In fact, Leto leaves Paul with a final message to Jessica should he die to tell her she always had his full trust. Here there's no sign of this or that Jessica is bothered at not being officially married to Leto. It's only the latter who expresses regrets over never tying the knot.
    • She and Thufir Hawat get along fine. In the book, Thufir is fairly openly distrusting of Jessica because he suspects her of trying to influence the Duke for the Bene Gesserit's benefit.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The Fenrings and Feyd-Rautha are both absent, with Rabban taking on the latter's function of being a recipient to the Baron's exposition.
    • Princess Irulan's narration is also absent. Instead, Chani's narration opens the film.
    • The Baron's sexual perversion towards young men are also removed, although the fact that he now has the Duke stripped for him somewhat implies he might still have some twisted penchants in this field.
    • The film omits any specifics about Gurney Halleck's ugly history with the Harkonnens and Rabban in particular, with Gurney only testifying that the Harkonnens are inhuman and brutal. The books gave Gurney the backstory that he'd once been a slave in Gladiator Games on Giedi Prime, and that Rabban scarred Gurney's face, giving Gurney a lifelong hatred for the brute.
  • Advertised Extra: Zendaya is heavily featured in promotional materials and has a prominent position on the poster, but Chani has very little screen time and only appears in the flesh in the final 20 minutes.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: House Harkonnen conspire with Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV to destroy House Atreides, first by having them take stewardship of the planet Arrakis to extract the Spice, then by having their troops (Harkonnen soldiers, buttressed by Imperial Sardaukars) invade Arrakeen, the capital city where Atreides troops are concentrated, in a surprise assault with the help of The Mole and wipe them out.
  • Alternative Calendar: The Dune universe uses a different calendar from that of present-day Earth. Years are not counted before and after the birth of Christ, but before and after the establishment of the Spacing Guild's monopoly, measured as Before and After Guild. The film takes place in the year 10,191 A.G.
  • And I Must Scream: The three guards and Leto are totally awake but are paralyzed when Yueh disables the shields and sabotages the house to let the Harkonnens and Sardukar into the city. The guards can move their eyes, but not their bodies.
  • And Starring: The cast list in the trailer ends with "with Charlotte Rampling, with Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem".
  • Arcadia: Rather than the hostile environments of Arrakis, Salusa Secundus, and Giedi Prime, Caladan is a lush and beautiful world with large seas and grassy hills.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played With. Personal shields are all but impervious to anything but slow-moving blades or specialized projectiles and have saved the life of at least the Baron. However, if a shield does get penetrated it is usually treated as deathblow, which may be valid if the target wears nothing but his shirt under the shield, but harder to justify in the case of Atreides and Harkonnen soldiers wearing thick plates of armor, or the formidable-looking Sardaukar environmental suits.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Played with. Duke Leto asks Jessica "will you protect Paul?", to which she answers wholeheartedly "With my life!" But that is not what Leto meant: "I am not asking his mother, I am asking a Bene Gesserit! Will your order protect Paul?!" Jessica is clearly taken aback, and she has no answer. It also reveals that despite their love for one another, they come from (and still live in) different worlds.
  • Art Imitates Art: Paul is dressed in a dark coat and overlooking the planet's waters as one of his family's ships rises out of it, a shot directly based on Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.
  • Artistic Licence – Physics: Though somewhat pedantic in a franchise where everything from personal shields, flight and even interstellar travel is achieved via the fictional 'Holtzman effect', amusingly zig-zagged with the movie's lasguns: instead of the 'light-emitting bolts of pure energy' common in other science-fiction settings, lasgun beams are very much like real lasers; single straight beam, with low-but-nonzero divergence, continuous and invisible unless dust particles scatter some of its light towards the human eye. But it goes unexplained how a laser powerful enough to easily cut through massive metal doors leaves tiny dust particles intact long enough to scatter light.
  • Ascended Extra: The Lieutenant Lanville, the bald commanding officer seen with Leto and the military in several major scenes, is revealed in interviews to be the film's version of the nameless gladiator that would later fight with Feyd-Rautha. In the book, he receives no focus until he's forced into the arena, whereas in the movie he has a name, a speaking part, and a minor presence beforehand.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Compared to other adaptations of Dune, which try to imagine a futuristic update of Baroque architecture, the set design in this film uses an angular, Brutalist style with most surfaces being bare stone.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Fremen are led by the strongest warriors. When Stilgar gets bested in front of his men, his authority is instantly questioned.
  • As You Know: In the beginning of the film, Paul says that Duncan is heading to Arrakis in advance the next day. Duncan (who would of course know this) agrees and repeats it back to him, although in an amused tone that almost makes it sound like he knows what Paul's going to ask next.
  • Audible Sharpness: When Liet-Kynes tries to approach Leto in order to check on his stillsuit, everyone around draws their knife on her with the familiar "tzing" sound.

    Tropes B - G 
  • The Bad Guy Wins: By the end of the film, House Harkonnen and the Sardaukar have eliminated the Atreides forces and take over Arrakis once again with plans to exterminate the Fremen, Baron Vladimir survives Duke Leto's attempt to kill him with a Deadly Gas and Paul and Jessica cross the desert to hide among the Fremen.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Jessica tells Shadout Mapes "I know that whatever you're hiding, it won't be enough." She later shows the truth of this by wiping the floor with Stilgar.
    • Duke Leto's words to the Herald Of The Change.
      We are House Atreides. There is no call we do not answer. There is no faith that we betray.
    • The Bashar gets two in quick succession, which his men later back up:
      We are the Sardaukar. The Emperor's blades. Those who stand against us fall.
      The Emperor commands it. It is done.
  • Barefoot Captives: Paul and Jessica are barefoot when they're captured by the Harkonnen soldiers, with a shot emphasizing Paul's bare feet.
  • Base on Wheels: The Spice Harvesters from both House Atreides and Harkkonen are extremely large landships that act - as their name implies - mobile harvesting vehicles to collect and process the lucrative spice. They require over a dozen crew to function and rely on worm spotting aircraft to detect any nearby Shai-Hulud for an evacuation.
  • Bear Hug: Duncan is happy to see Paul when they reunite with each other at Caladan at the start of the film, and gives him a hug and lifts him doing so.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The Atreides engaged in bullfighting up to the times of Paul's grandfather Paulus, who even died gored by a bull. A portrait of Paulus in Caladan shows him dressed in full matador regalia, with traje de luces, estoque and capote in display, and a couple of sculptures in the palace represent bullfighters as well.
  • Big Word Shout: The Atreides forces sure love to yell out "Atreides!" a lot. The assembled troops on parade when the Duke receives the Emperor's Herald yell "Atreides!" in affirmation of Leto's acceptance of the decree. When the Atreides arrive on Arrakis, Gurney Halleck leads the newly-arrived troops in yelling "Atreides!" When they are down to barely twenty men during the Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis, the troops are still able to get in some "Atreides!". In the last case, however, it becomes a rallying cry in the face of inevitable defeat.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: The Sardaukar always converse in their own Black Speech, even when the other speaker is using English. Oddly, neither side seems to have a problem understanding the other.
  • Black Speech: The Sardaukar speak an almost inhumanly harsh, snarling language among themselves, and seem to have effects added to their voices that make them sound demonically deep and resonant. They almost sound like literal orcs at times.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Cleverly used throughout the film: the shield apparates red in the exact location of a fatal wound, giving the illusion of Pink Mist instead of actually showing it.
  • Bloody Handprint: The stabbed housekeeper leaves her bloody handprint on Leto's white shirt.
  • Building Is Welding: When the Atreides ramp up their spice mining operation at Arrakeen, there are several shots of workers on the airfield producing sparks as they get things ready.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The novel's lines about how much water a palm tree requires come originally from Dr. Yueh, but they are given to a random native gardener in this film.
    • The bizarre, spider-like mutant that acts as the Baron's pet is original to the film.
  • Challenging the Chief: Jamis challenges Jessica seeing her besting Stilgar - rendering her the leader in Jamis's eyes. Stilgar rejects this, viewing Jessica as a Sayyadina, who cannot be challenged. He then asks who will fight in her name. Cue Paul stepping forward.
  • Character Exaggeration: In the book, the Baron had the Character Tic of rubbing his temple while thinking. In the film, he instead rubs his entire head, from neck to eyes.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Paul's vision of Duncan's death includes a beetle crawling nearby, alerting the audience to be on the lookout for it.
    • Duncan hands Paul a Fremen compass that comes in handy later when the latter is stranded in the desert with his mother.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the first few scenes, Paul is shown practicing his knife fighting and Compelling Voice. He uses both skills in the third act to save his life.
  • City Planet: In contrast to the vast, natural expanses of Arrakis or the beautiful cliffs and oceans of Caladan, the ancestral home of the Harkonnens, Giedi Prime, is shown to be a sprawling, shadowy ecumenopolis.
  • Cliffhanger: At the end of the movie, the Harkonnens succeed in retaking Arrakis, killing Leto in the process, and the Baron orders Rabban to take control and wipe out the Fremen altogether, all the while knowing that the Emperor's favour will only last as long as they can keep up spice harvesting. Duncan and several of the Fremen sacrifice themselves to help Paul and Jessica escape, Liet-Kynes is killed (though she takes several Sardaukar with her) and Gurney Halleck and Thufir Hawat are unaccounted for in the aftermath of the massacre of House Atreides. Jessica is pregnant with her second child and Paul, after being forced to kill Jamis in a Duel to the Death, ends up joining the Fremen against Jessica's wishes to bring peace to Arrakis, while having visions of a potential future where he unleashes a wave of destruction upon the universe. As Chani mentions as the film ends, "This is only the beginning."
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Personal shields glow blue when they stop a strike or a projectile and red whenever something goes through them.
  • Coming in Hot: Paul crash-lands the thopter in the desert after barely making it out of the Deadly Dust Storm.
  • Compelling Voice: The Voice, a skill of Bene Gesserit sisters, and Paul is being trained in it by his mother. In the book, the Voice user must first hear the voice of a target, and then tailor the tone of the Voice to that particular target. In the movie, the speaker is only required to reach a certain tone, but to the viewer (and presumably the target) it seems like she is speaking with an inhuman Voice of the Legion. It's also visually represented, from the recipient's point of view, as the speaker saying something with no audio for half a moment before the dialogue comes out and the recipient obeying even as they hear it. Paul finds himself yanked in front of the Matriarch before the words even hit his ears.
  • Composite Character: Stretching the definition of "character" somewhat but the palm trees of Arrakeen pull double duty both as metaphor for the ridculous wealth of both the Harkonnens and later the Atreides whilst also being a symbol of the Fremen dream of there one day being a green and verdant Arrakis. In the book, a terrarium of greenery hidden away in the Atreides castle served such a role, but it was cut from the film.
  • Conlang: David J. Peterson did the conlanging for the film, including Chakobsa, Sardaukar, and House Atreides' sign language
  • Conspicuous Consumption:
    • The Emperor spends a massive amount of money and spice to send his Herald to Caladan for a meeting about something that's already been decided and which takes, generously estimated, ten minutes. Everyone knows it's a ridiculously wasteful farce, including the Herald himself, but they still have to go along with it.
    • The palace in Arrakeen has 20 imported palm trees, each requiring the same amount of water as five humans and demonstrating the wealth of the house that holds Arrakis as a fiefdom.
  • Convenient Escape Boat: Jessica and Paul escape the Sardaukars in the desert camp via a thopter waiting for them.
  • Crashing Dreams: During one of Paul's dreams about Chani, he hears her calling his name. The scene then cuts to his bedside where we see Jessica calling him.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Dr. Kynes scoffs at Paul's idea of marrying one of the Emperor's daughters. This isn't going to pay off until the sequel, but Kynes doesn't live to see it.
  • Crisis Makes Perfect: Paul's Compelling Voice fails him until the last moments before the Harkonnen can throw him and his mother from the aircraft.
  • Crossing the Desert: Paul and Jessica have to travel the forbidding desert that covers most of Arrakis in order to reach the Fremen after escaping the Harkonnen. Dehydration, storms so powerful they can flay the flesh off of an unprotected human in seconds, and predacious Sand Worms that are attracted to rhythmic movement all threaten the pair. They try to use the Fremen "dance" walk to avoid attracting Sand Worms as Paul learned earlier with a filmbook, but it's to little effect.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Sardaukar cult, while ostensibly based on the feudal Japanese, Norse and Mongolian, also has some decidedly Catholic elements played in a creepy light. They are shown kneeling like medieval knights, their female assistants wear nun-like scarves and rosary beads, their sacrificed men are tied in crucifix-like positions, and their blood ritual combines both Eucharist and Ash Wednesday, applying the blood of the sacrificed in their foreheads. This might be an intentional nod to how Norsemen eventually converted to Christianity.
  • Culture Chop Suey:
    • The Atreides evoke the Mediterranean and Spanish culture (their surnames come from Greek mythology, they engage in bullfighting, and they live by the sea), but also have Japanese influences—the set designer was inspired by the simplicity of Japanese furnishings in designing their castle's interior, and there are bonsai displayed in the dining room. The cool, rainy atmosphere of the planet was also inspired by Canada in the fall, and the chain jewelry Jessica wears when arriving on Arrakis is similar to Indian wedding jewelry. There are also more typically British and European influences in the military uniforms they wear, as well as the fact that they play the bagpipes.
    • In the scene with the Herald of the Change, the Herald and members of the Spacing Guild wear richly embroidered robes that evoke Catholic clergy.
    • As noted above, the Sardaukar draw from Norse, Mongolian and feudal Japanese culture and some elements of Christianity. They could be considered a modern version of the Varangian Guard, an elite guard formed by Norsemen that served Byzantine emperors.
    • The Harkonnens have a Finnish surname, and evoke the Nazis in a number of ways—they're pale-skinned, militaristic, dress in black uniforms, and at the movie's conclusion the Baron authorizes Rabban to enact a genocide of the Fremen. Their slaves, who are pale, bald and have solid dark eyes, resemble The Greys; the Harkonnens' penchant for glossy black fabric and leather, and the strange gags that some of their servants wear, also suggest inspiration from BDSM subcultures, as a possible allusion to Baron Harkonnen's sadism in the book.
  • Culture Clash:
    • Duke Leto invites Fremen chieftain Stilgar to his palace for parlay. Not only does he, the appointed planetary overlord connected to the Emperor himself by blood, let the ragged native into his home; as a sign of mutual trust he allows him to get into knife range, much to his personal guard's chagrin. Suddenly, the native spits on the Duke's desk, and Gurney is about to repay the insult by gutting the insolent barbarian. Then Idaho steps in, thanks Stilgar for showing them great respect by sharing his water with them, and spits on his lord's desk in response, urging the Duke to do the same. Though Stilgar is blunt and not deferential in the slightest, he promises not to interfere with Atreides mining operations so long as they stay out of the deep desert. Since the Atreides are hamstrung by the poor equipment the Harkonnens have left them, and cannot afford losses due to raids, this is already a huge victory for the Duke, and a good first step in securing an alliance. Still, Leto looks very uncomfortable flinging a loogie onto his own desk.
    • Paul offends the Fremen when he demands Jamis yield during their duel. Those watching vocalize their displeasure, but Stilgar brushes it off by pointing out that Paul is unfamiliar with their traditions. The Fremen also voice their displeasure at Paul taking his time killing Jamis, thinking he's playing with him, though Jessica explains it as the first time Paul has had to kill someone.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Atreides troops put up a solid fight against the Harkonnen soldiers. Then the Sardaukar join in and the Atreides force is dead in seconds.
    • When Stilgar decides that Jessica cannot learn Fremen ways and is to be killed rather than become a liability to the tribe, Jessica promptly proves otherwise by effortlessly putting Stilgar in an inescapable chokehold.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Several examples are shown.
    • As the Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis opens, the Atreides retaliate instantly despite having been surprised in the middle of the night. Their anti-aircraft batteries immediately open fire at the approaching landing craft and manage to destroy a few.
    • Given the standard of their training and being true to their reputation as "the finest in the Imperium," the Atreides ground forces are capable of easily outfighting the Harkonnens man to man even if they are eventually overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Shown especially during the Atreides' final stand during which a small number of barely-armored soldiers who had been jostled from their sleep still fight in perfect coordination and manage to kill enough Harkonnens to make the rest temporarily stop their advance.
    • Unlike the Atreides soldiers, the Fremen are more than capable of readily besting the Sardaukar. They are alerted to the Sardaukar's already-silent approach and in the time it takes them to reach the Fremen position, the Fremen have already hidden themselves in an ambush. They catch the Sardaukar completely by surprise and kill a disproportionate number of them until as with the Atreides, the Fremen are overcome by the far larger Sardaukar force.
  • Cyanide Pill: Doctor Yueh replaces one of Leto's molars with a poison tooth that will release a deadly gas if he bites down, saying if Leto chooses an opportune time, doing so can kill a roomful of people including himself.
  • Cyborg:
    • The Baron's anti-gravity suspensors are grafted to his spine in this version.
    • Various members of House Atreides, including Leto and Thufir, have communication devices just behind their right ears.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: After This persists after the dying attempt on his life by Leto, the Baron must be submerged in a pool of brownish-gray goop to recuperate from the attack. Possibly previously to this as well, if his moisture-filled sauna is not merely for hygiene and pleasure.
  • Darkest Hour: The Harkonnens taking control of Arrakis and killing Leto, forcing Paul and Jessica to go on the run and hiding with the Fremen.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: After Leto blows poison gas on Baron Harkonnen and his circle, the next we see of this room is a shot of the former's limp hand, indicating his death.
  • Decomposite Character: Dr. Yueh's speech about palm trees is said instead by a native gardener who tends them.
  • Deflector Shields: Shields based on the fictional 'Holtzman effect' are widely used in the movie, from a training duel between Paul and Gurney, to open warfare between the Atreides and the invading Harkonnens. While the personal devices were worn on belts in the books and earlier adaptations, in this film the Atreides wear them on the wrist, while the Baron carries one on his finger. Shields are also prominent on craft from small ornithopters to massive orbital landers. When in use shields flicker when activated but are invisible until struck, glowing blue when repulsing a blow and red when penetrated.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The Fremen are desert dwellers to whom water is incredibly precious and have developed technology to recycle water to a ludicrous degree. Stilgar spits in front of Duke Leto when meeting him and the Atreides men nearly attack him for what they assume is an insult before Duncan hurriedly thanks Stilgar for gifting them some of his body's moisture and reciprocates.
    • When Stilgar encounters Paul and Jessica in the desert, he refuses what would have been a rich reward for aiding them in favour of killing them for the water in their bodies, agreeing to spare Paul only because he's young enough to be retrained in their ways. Jessica's hand-to-hand combat skills convince him she's also worth saving.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • In the book, Thufir Hawat is Paul's Mentat teacher and has an extended subplot where he tries to suss out The Mole. Neither of these aspects are present in the film, leaving him with a handful of scenes where he advises Leto; his fate after the coup is unrevealed.
    • The Baron's right-hand Mentat Piter de Vries appears but is never named, and his unique personality and role in the plot have been stripped away.
    • Dr. Wellington Yueh only appears briefly in the film prior to betraying Leto, fitting him with the poison tooth and being killed. In the book, he has a number of scenes throughout the early chapters, including multiple focused on his perspective (which out him as The Mole before the characters learn of it, and describe his motivation for betraying the Atreides much earlier); as noted in Decomposite Character, some of his dialogue is instead given to a native gardener.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the novel Dr. Yueh is stabbed by Piter de Vries in the back at the Baron's nod, and has time for a few last spiteful words. In the movie the Baron himself beheads Dr. Yueh.
    • In the novel Dr. Kynes is left to die in the deep desert without a stillsuit by the Harkonnens, and he's caught in a naturally-occurring spice explosion while ruminating in his delerium. In the movie, she's mortally wounded by Sardaukar pursuing Paul and Jessica while she's calling a sandworm to ride, and she pounds on the sand to summon it faster and lets herself and them be consumed by it.
  • Divided for Adaptation: The film covers only half of the book with the planned sequel covering the other half. It aims at solving the problem of the 1984 version condensing too much of the story and abusing narration Time Skip.
  • Draw Sword, Draw Blood: After the Fremen stand down from their standoff with Paul and Jessica, they scratch their arms with their crysknives before resheathing them, indicating this trope is at play. In the book, when Jessica was given a crysknife by Shadout Mapes, Jessica chastised her for sheathing the blade unbloodied, making this serve as a Mythology Gag.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Paul answers a blunt "yes" to the Reverend Mother's question about often having dreams of things that end up happening.
    • While still at Caladan, Paul begs Duncan to bring him along with the advance force to Arrakis, as he had a dream where he saw Duncan die, and he is desperate to save his friend. Ironically Duncan dies because he's there, to Hold the Line so Paul and Jessica can escape.
    • Paul receives a spice-vision of a great holy war he will lead, and sees himself and Chani standing above his forces who have just conquered Caladan. He also sees a tattooed Jessica holding a baby - possibly Alia.
    • Paul's visions show a number of possible futures, including one where Jamis wins the duel, one where Jamis becomes a mentor, and one where Chani stabs him to death. None of these come true.
  • Dreaming the Truth: The first verse of the Sardaukar throat song apparently translates as "dreams are messages from the deep," which suggests this incarnation of them share their literary counterparts' penchant for dream interpretation, as mentioned in Children of Dune.
  • Drone of Dread: Can be heard on the soundtrack whenever a sandworm is nearby.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • In the trailer (and only the trailer), Reverend Mother Mohiam is completely dismissive of Duke Leto Atreides, one of the most powerful men in the universe.
      Mohiam: You have proven you can rule yourself. Now you must learn to rule others... something none of your ancestors learned.
      Paul: My father rules an entire planet.
      Mohiam: He's losing it.
      Paul: He's getting a richer one.
      Mohiam: He'll lose that one too.
    • In the movie, there is a similar but shorter interaction before the gom jabbar test. When the Reverend Mother orders Jessica out of the room, Paul angrily calls her out for dismissing his mother in her own house, which the Reverend Mother responds to by making him kneel in front of her with the Voice. He takes offense at that too.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: Duke Leto Atreides has three vehicles trying to rescue a crew of 21 spice harvesters from an approaching Sand Worm, but each vehicle has room for only six more people, so they calculate they would need to leave three behind. Fortunately, Leto's son Paul tells them to dump the vehicles' shield generators, which makes enough room to rescue them all.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: The Baron helps himself to the Duke's food across the table from a drugged naked Duke.
    Vladimir: You have a wonderful kitchen, cousin.
  • Energy Weapon: Lasguns present in the movie, from man-portable equivalents of real-life anti-tank weapons, to ship-borne versions. Their continuous beams can cut through thick metal doors, or even whole sections of Arrakeen city. Contrary to the book, no instance is shown where a lasgun hits a shield, where this leads to a "microfusion" followed by a kiloton-range sized explosion destroying the shield bearer, the gunner, and most of the immediate battlefield (though in the battle where Duncan fights the Harkonnens to keep them from catching Paul and Jessica, the soldier with the lasgun notably doesn't take part).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted when Piter realizes the Baron lied to Mohiam and intends to defy the Bene Gesserit's orders to spare Paul and Jessica. Oh, Piter's dismayed...but not out of any concern for Paul and his mother's lives. Rather, Piter's alarmed that his liege is prepared to make an enemy of the Reverend Mother herself, let alone the entire Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, just to get Leto and his family. However, Piter's concerns are (more or less) ameliorated once the Baron explains the loophole he carefully inserted into his pledge to Mohiam.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: House Atreides' arrival on Arrakis is heralded by a single bagpiper marching ahead, soon joined by the rest of the house's pipers. They build up until the sound almost drowns out everything else on the soundtrack.
  • Evil Counterpart: Salusa Secundus is presented as somewhat of an evil reflection of Caladan. Both have rainy, blue-colored landscapes, but while Caladan houses a noble family whose ancestors sacrificed bulls, Salusa harbors a creepy blood cult that sacrifices people.
  • Evil is Petty: In a single stroke, Baron Harkonnen has reclaimed Arrakis, destroyed House Atreides, killed its heir and his mother (or so he thinks), and captured his arch-enemy Duke Leto. The baron cannot resist rubbing it in by forcing the Duke to watch the Baron eat his food and gloat on his house's fall, while being drugged, paralyzed and stripped of all of his clothing.
  • Exact Words:
    • Occurs twice with Baron Harkonnen:
      • First he promises Reverend Mother Mohiam that he "will not harm" Jessica and Paul. Instead, he orders Rabban to have them dropped in the desert, where they'll be exposed to the harsh elements and the desert will kill them.
      • He apparently promised Dr. Yueh that he'd "deliver [his] wife from her agony," that he would "set her free" and that Dr. Yueh "could join her." Cue him chopping off Dr. Yueh's head.
    • This is directly invoked by some Harkonnen soldiers, with one telling another they can't simply cut the throats of Jessica and Paul because they might end up in front of a Truthsayer and so need to be able to honestly say they didn't kill them. Instead, they will put their captives in a situation where they will surely die.
  • Facial Markings:
    • Mentats have a black squared mark on their lower lip.
    • Sardaukar, for their part, have a line of black dots tattooed on the right side of the forehead, and they additionally anoint themselves with sacrificial blood in a bindi-like manner over the eyes (a detail that also echoes the Christian practice of priests marking the foreheads of churchgoers with ashes on Ash Wednesday, fitting the Crystal Dragon Jesus flavor of their rituals).
    • Dr. Yueh has a diamond-shaped tattoo on his forehead. In the book, this was a sign of his having graduated the Suk school of Imperial Conditioning, rendering it impossible for him to harm or betray anyone under his care as a physician. Said conditioning has been broken by the Harkonnens, and Dr. Yueh is their mole.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In the middle of a desert, Sardaukar manage to sneak up and stab Liet Kynes, who was waiting for a ride. Paul later discovers that Chani has done the same to him; she only stays her blade because Stilgar orders it.
  • Fan Disservice: There are several instances of near-full nudity with only a Scenery Censor, but they're either of the grotesque Baron Harkonnen, or, in the case of the far more attractive Leto, when he has been captured by Harkonnen, subjected to a Shameful Strip, and is about to commit a suicide attack with the false tooth Dr. Yueh gave him.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Standard guns are rare-to-nonexistent aside from a small pistol Paul takes off a Fremen and uses in the ensuing standoff. Shields, which block fast-moving projectiles and melee strikes, have rendered most such armaments worthless on the battlefield. The rest of the projectile weapons we see are specially designed to break through shields by drilling through them slowly, as darts from a handheld projector, or as a large anti-air missile that freezes in place when it hits the shield and slowly pushes through. The Fremen developed their maula pistol specifically because shields are worse than useless on Arrakis; their frequency vibrations drive sandworms into a killing frenzy.
  • Fooled by the Sound: Discussed after Duncan leaves for Arrakis. Paul is practicing his knife fighting on a dummy when Gurney Halleck strides in for their training session and admonishes him for standing with his back to the door.
    Gurney: Don't stand with your back to the door!
    Paul: I could tell it was you by your footsteps, Gurney Halleck!
    Gurney: Someone might imitate my stride.
    Paul: I'd know the difference.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Chani's opening monologue ends on the note of asking who the next people to oppress her people will be. The next character shown is Paul Atreides, hinting at his dark future as their Emperor.
    • Paul has several encounters with desert mice on Arrakis and after learning of them with holographic encyclopedias. His Fremen name will canonically be "Muad'Dib", the Fremen name of these rodents.
    • Duncan's debriefing about his hunt for the Fremen and becoming accepted by them. Duncan starts to recount how a Fremen warrior was sent out to kill him, hesitates, and hurriedly ends by saying he's never come that close to dying. Initially, it seems that even the Ginaz Swordmaster was spooked by the martial skills and ferocity of the Fremen. It's only later when Paul duels Jamis that it becomes clear why Duncan was uncomfortable: To pass the test and be accepted by Stilgar and his people, Duncan had to kill the warrior — just as Paul now has no choice but to kill Jamis.
    • When Mohiam visits Geidi Prime, her shuttle passes a small flotilla holding position in a stationary orbit. While it can be seen as a home guard for the Harkonnen homeworld, or an honor guard meant to greet and escort a representative of Shaddam, it's also presumably the fleet the Baron is assembling for the attack on Arakkis. That he's assembling it out in the open (which would be a security concern given Thufir's spy network), combined with Mohiam's orders, all indicate the planned strike is immiment.
    • When the Herald of the Change arrives on Caladan, Thufir uses his Mentat abilities to calculate the estimated travel cost for the Emperor's delegation. It turns out to be a very expensive bit of Imperial pomp and pageantry, thus establishing that Spacing Guild travel ain't cheap. This plot point comes back into play towards the end of Part One where the Baron reveals to Rabban the rough financial cost of launching a full military strike on Arakkis. Unsurprisingly, it turns out to be a far more expensive bill than the Herald's political theater and the entire operation has thus essentially left House Harkonnen completely broke.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: While Paul and Jessica are walking toward where they think is the sietch that Duncan lived, the film cuts to a group of Fremen before focusing on one - it's one of Paul's waking dreams, and the one it focuses on is Duncan.
  • Funny Background Event: During Paul's vision of his holy war. One of the Fremen jumps hitting a Sardaukar's head with his crotch.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: Paul has never killed anyone before his duel with Jamis, and seems to think subduing his adversary repeatedly without killing him will suffice. Then Stilgar makes it clear that it's a Duel to the Death, and so Paul ends the duel by killing him.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Paul first sees Chani in his dreams right at the start of the film and also at other points before finally meeting her at the end.
  • Going Native:
    • Liet-Kynes initially denies being part of the Fremen and claims the prophecies of a deliverer is just native superstition. Later she acknowledges that she's Fremen and the movie shows that she is an actual believer.
    • When Duncan reports his findings on the Fremen and their ways, Gurney jibes that Duncan's "gone native". He brushes that off but doesn't deny it.
    • Paul's vision reveals he and Jessica will likewise go native. This is revealed to be true after Paul kills Jamis. Stilgar considers him "one of us now." Paul accepts, despite Jessica's plea to Stilgar to smuggle them to Caladan.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Many fatal blows throughout the film are entirely obscured from the audience's view, such as Dr. Yueh's beheading or Paul's final blow on Jamis during their duel.

    Tropes H - Z 
  • Hand in the Hole: The Reverend Mother's test requires Paul to put his hand into a mysterious box which turns out to be pain-inducing.
  • Hand on Womb: Jessica touches her belly a couple of times near the end of the film to emphasize her being Imperiled in Pregnancy.
  • Hand Signals: Used among House Atreides (identified as a "Battle Language" in the screenplay) to communicate quickly and silently, particularly by Jessica so she can signal guards or send a message to Paul silently in the same room and by Paul himself back to Jessica to encrypt it when the Stilgar and his Fremen ambush them.
  • Healing Vat: Baron Harkonnen barely escapes death from poison gas, but not as unscathed as in the book, requiring him to be submerged in an unspecified liquid to aid his convalescence. The liquid has a black oily appearance with a drizzle of gold, making him appear even more monstrous than he did already when he emerges from it. It's also a good visual metaphor for how he is, of course, an oil baron.
  • Heir-In-Law: While on the run Paul briefly considers marrying one of the Emperor's daughters, since the latter does not have a male heir. Liet-Kynes is aghast that he would make such an unabashed play for the throne.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: well, face-masks in this case. A character in the original novel insisted that everyone wear their stillsuit masks, and going without would result in unnecessary loss of water; yet people are constantly seen out in the open with bare faces — particularly Dr. Kynes, the character who did the insisting.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Paul and Dr. Yueh have a private conversation by speaking in Mandarin in Jessica's presence. Also the Hand Signals noted above.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: When Paul and Jessica escape from Kyne's Sietch in an Ornithopter, they're followed by Harkonnen troops in three other Ornithopters until they all bump into a sandstorm. Paul and Jessica go straight into the storm, the Harkonnens stay outside and launch three homing missiles against them, and Paul maneuvers to dodge the missiles and have them all be destroyed by the storm.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The Atreides troops make their stand in the courtyard of their fortress palace, instead of making use of its thick walls, or the roofed, narrow streets of the city. As a result, the jetpack-equipped Sardaukar envelope them from behind with ease.
  • Honor Before Reason: When a Harkonnen assassin nearly kills Paul, Thufir feels honor-bound to turn in his resignation over having not prevented the attack. Duke Leto asks if he really means to deprive the House of his service right after it's been proven they are in danger and tells him to redeem himself by catching the rest of the Harkonnen spies.
  • Human Notepad: In a vision, Jessica appears with scripture all over her skin.
  • Human Resources: Stilgar and his Fremen band wanted to kill Paul and Jessica to extract the fluids from their bodies until the ducal pair beat them down.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: After the Atreides forces have settled on Dune, Leto notes how quiet things have been. Gurney Halleck agrees and adds that it's worrying him.
  • Instant Death Stab: During their Duel to the Death, Paul strikes Jamis once with his crysknife and the latter falls over and dies within half a minute.
  • It's Raining Men: The Sardaukar use some sort of suspensor device to arrest their falls, gently descending to rapidly cross-vertical terrain or attack from unexpected angles, like when they dropped in behind the Atreides soldiers defending the palace from the Harkonnen, or when they entered the ecology station via the cistern.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Paul has the gift of prophecy. Or rather, the curse of it. He is horrified to see visions of himself leading a terrible crusade that will drag the universe into mass bloodshed and chaos, when he's not seeing visions of his own death instead.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Not exaggeratedly, but the Baron burps audibly and masticates noisily while at Leto's table (and eats with his hand, which might or might not be a custom in this setting).
  • Just Toying with Them: Stilgar asks Jessica if this is the case with Paul during his Duel to the Death with Jamis as Paul was repeatedly within death blow's chance. Jessica replies that he's never killed anyone before. Paul finishes Jamis shortly thereafter - after another vision.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: Duke Leto Atreides mentions that House Atreides commands Caladan with airpower and seapower. On Arrakis', House Atreides must gain desertpower in order to survive.
  • Last Stand: Several are shown in the movie:
    • During the climactic battle, Gurney Halleck leads all the troops he can muster in a desperate charge against the overwhelming Harkonnen forces landing on the airfield.
    • Minutes later, the surviving Atreides, numbering barely twenty, face down the oncoming Harkonnen battalions at the top of a staircase. Bonus points for bravery- the Atreides not only prepare to fight but advance down the steps to meet their enemy. They manage to cut down the first two rows and cause the Harkonnens to stop their advance until the Sardaukar jetpack in from behind them and they are promptly slaughtered.
    • Duncan Idaho gives his life to buy enough time for Paul and Jessica to escape.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: As this is just the first part of the story, it's fitting the movie ends with Chani saying, "This is only the beginning."
  • Lecture as Exposition: Paul repeatedly listens to audio material and reads books about the Fremen which helps the audience to get to know them better.
  • Let's Get Out of Here: Line said by Paul to Jessica in the desert when they sense a sandworm close by.
  • Lighter and Softer: Downplayed; while it still has plenty of grim moments and an ominous tone, this version is more accessible to those who have not read the book. It is not as dark, brooding, and nightmarish as the Lynch version. There is also a downplaying of gratuitous weird and bizarre elements in favor of focusing on the characters' personalities and relationships, with more warm-hearted interactions and bonding moments between the characters. Denis Villeneuve is much more of a sober filmmaker than David Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky, both of whom are noted for their eccentricities.
  • Lodged-Blade Recycling: During his Last Stand, when Duncan is stabbed by Sardaukar soldiers, he removes the blade and kills several soldiers with it before dying.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Harkonnen ships rain down missiles on Atreides soldiers during their assault, firing off dozens at a time.
  • Menacing Hand Shot: Employed for this shot of a Sardaukar approaches wounded Liet-Kynes in the desert to deliver a Coup de Grâce.
  • Million Mook March: During Chani's Opening Monologue, there is a shot of the massive Harkonnen army waiting for their departure from Dune.
  • The "Mom" Voice: In a bit of a meta joke, Paul is told to demonstrate The Voice, an ability passed down by the Bene Gesserit to more-or-less mind-control people, by his mom in a naggy-mom kind of tone.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: That thing in the Harkonnen throne room, with far too many human-like limbs at improbable angles. The Reverend Mother sending it off by using the Voice implies that it may actually once have been human.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: The trailer features a cover of Pink Floyd's "Eclipse". This may also be a shout-out to Jodorowsky's abandoned adaptation, as the director had wanted to have Pink Floyd provide the score to that film.
  • Mordor: The film shows us two such locations.
    • Giedi Prime, homeworld of House Harkonnen, is a lightless, polluted hell of gigantic, toxic factories and stark, angular palaces where the vast majority of the population labor as diseased slaves for their feudal masters. The atmosphere is so saturated with toxic fumes that the sun can't penetrate through the atmosphere, and as a result people born on the planet are almost invariably hairless albinos. The Harkonnens are furthermore shown to keep at least one bizarre, spiderlike creature as a pet, which, judging by its humanlike hands and susceptibility to the Voice, means it's probably not native wildlife and more likely somebody who displeased them.
    • Salusa Secundus is an utter Death World that, due to its inhospitable environment, serves as both a prison planet and as training ground for the Sardaukar, the Emperor's most elite warriors. The one scene that takes place there shows it to be a barren, storm-wracked place where the Sardaukar practice blood sacrifices to the Emperor under the watch of sinister priests.
  • Mysterious Veil:
    • Reverend Mother Mohiam wears a bizarre spiderweb-like veil when she meets Paul.
    • Upon landing in Arrakis, Jessica and the rest of Atreides women are shown covered in see-through veils resembling Indian ghoonghats, probably to keep desert sand and dust out of their faces.
  • Mythology Gag: Enough to deserve its own page.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The 2020 trailer contained a handful of elements that aren't in the film, such as Paul's and Mohiam's longer dialogue, Paul screaming in the pain box, and the Sardaukar uttering a war cry where in the film they are silent.
    • In the 2020 trailer, the Baron is shown saying "Kill them all" as part of the montage about the Harkonnens' attack on the Atreides. In the actual film, he says it after the Atreides are all (believed to be) dead, and is referring to the Fremen.
    • In the 2020 trailer, a key scene is shown occurring in broad daylight; in the actual film, the scene takes place at night.
    • The trailers show multiple scenes from Paul's visions with no context, as though they were actual current events of the story itself rather than possible dreams of the future.
    • Much of Paul's dialogue in the trailers doesn't appear in the final movie: "There's something happening to me. There's something awakening in my mind, I can't control it"; "There's a crusade coming" (he says "holy war" in the movie instead); "This is an extermination. They're picking my family off one by one." Paul recites the Litany Against Fear in the trailers, while in the movie only Jessica is heard saying it.
    • The July 2021 trailer confuses Harkonnen and Sardaukar thanks to a montage featuring a scene where Gurney tells Paul about Harkonnen brutality, immediately followed by footage from the Sardaukar ceremony.
    • In one trailer, Duncan says "Let's fight like demons" just before scenes of him fighting the Sardaukar. However, in the actual scene in the movie, he says "They fight like demons" when describing the Fremen during his report to Leto after House Atreides arrives on Arrakis.
  • Nobody Poops: In this adaptation, Kynes doesn't mention how urine and feces are processed during her explanation of how stillsuits work.
  • No Ending: Due to this being the first part of the story, the movie abruptly ends when Paul and Jessica are accepted by Stilgar's Fremen tribe, while none of the plot's threads have been resolved.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Rabban assures his uncle that Jessica and Paul are dead since nothing could survive a Deadly Dust Storm like that. Naturally, he is wrong.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Baron keeps a horrific spiderlike creature, with human hands at the ends of its arms, as a pet; and when the Baron claims it doesn't understand what they're saying, Gaius Helen Mohiam commands it to leave and retorts that "It understands." What this creature is (or who it might once have been) is never revealed, leaving the audience to wonder.
  • Nuns Are Spooky:
    • The Bene Gesserit are an all-female religious order with a shadowy agenda whose long black robes and face veils resemble the habit of nuns. Their scenes are set in darkness and backed up by ominous music, giving them an aura of mysticism and menace.
    • Sardaukar are shown to have female officiants that wear nun-like headscarves and chains resembling rosary beads in their sleeves. Those women assist them in their human sacrifices, retrieving the blood and applying it to the warriors' foreheads.
  • Off with His Head!: The Baron decapitates Dr. Yueh in one stroke with his knife.
  • Odessa Steps: During the Harkonnen attack on Arrakeen, the Atreides soldiers walk down the steps in a shot lifted almost exactly from Battleship Potemkin.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Gurney sees the monstrously sized Guild Heighliner in low orbit, signifying a massive Harkonnen invasion has come.
      Gurney Halleck: ...God in heaven...
    • The look on Jamis' face when he notices that he just managed to maneuver himself into a Duel to the Death with an opponent he expected to kill with ease, but who turned out to be far superior to him.
      • Stilgar also gets a minor one during the duel when he asks Jessica if Paul is toying with Jamis...only to learn that Paul's actually hesitating because he's never killed a man before. Stilgar's reaction can be interpreted multiple ways (shock that someone who's never spilled blood is dominating one of his best fighters, horror at having thrust this boy into a life-or-death situation where, even if Paul wins, he'll never be the same...and finally perhaps realization that Paul is fullfilling one of the terms of the Freman's messianic legends.
    • The Atreides soldiers get this when they get flanked by the Sardaukar on their backs.
  • One-Woman Wail: A significant part of the soundtrack, bordering almost on Leitmotif.
  • Orbital Bombardment: The combined Harkonnen and Sardaukar attack on Arakeen opens with a devastating series of orbital strikes (that, or very high altitude ones) that takes out the Atreides fleet before they can really mobilise.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A varitation with Duncan when he's recounting his time with the Fremen to Leto, Paul, and company. While Duncan recounts the duel with the Fremen Warrior, he omits that he had to kill the Warrior in order to be accepted by Stilgar and his people. This nearly ends up biting Paul in the ass during his duel with Jamis in the climax. Paul (who's never killed another man) doesn't initially realize he has to kill Jamis for him and his mother to receive the same welcome that Duncan got.
  • Portal Network: Heighliners seem to be essentially mobile portals, as planets and stars can be seen through their mouths when smaller ships go in and out.
  • Practically Different Generations: Paul is around fifteen years old, if not slightly older note . Using his powers of foresight, Paul realizes his mother is several weeks pregnant with her second child, meaning his future sibling will be over a decade younger than him, potentially bordering on two decades younger.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The book is framed as a historical treatise written by Princess Irulan, whose epigraphs mark chapter titles and provide some exposition. Since it is a very literary way of guiding the story, it is done away with in the film.
    • To emphasize its nigh-supernatural qualities and importance in an audiovisual medium, the Bene Gesserit Voice is monstrous-sounding in the film; in the book it was merely described as altering the speaker's tone.
    • In the book, Yueh is a doctor whose capabilities and loyalty are attributed to graduating from the prestigious Suk school of medicine. This backstory is excised in the film; his skill is instead shown by his ability to discern a patient's vitals simply by touching them.
    • The book features numerous characters saying different things than what they're really thinking, which the first film portrayed with characters constantly whispering their thoughts in voiceover. This film has them using sign language whenever this needs to happen. There are also long scenes (such as the dinner on Arrakis) where the reader's only access to the true intentions of characters are through subtle clues that the enhanced perceptions of characters like Jessica can pick up on, such as subtle speech patterns indicating that a person is associated with the Harkonnens; many of these moments are cut.
    • In the book, Paul has difficulty killing Jamis in spite of their large disparity in skill because Paul's fighting style accounts for shields, which Jamis isn't using. This would be hard to demonstrate with choreography, so Paul's difficulty instead focuses on his reluctance to take a life and visions he's had of them as friends.
    • Only Fremen have the blue-within-blue Eyes of Ibad. This is a sign of spice addiction, which the Fremen have from living on a world where spice is abundant. In the books, most people who live on Arrakis have the Eyes of Ibad, as do a few other characters (notably, Piter). This has been dropped in other adaptations, since explaining the Eyes isn't entirely necessary, and not explaining would lead audiences to wonder why Baron Harkonnen has a Fremen working for him.
  • The Promised Land: As seen in one of Paul's visions, the Fremen believe Arrakis will one day be turned into a water world that's almost as wet as Caladan.
  • Properly Paranoid: A trait that all House leaders are required to cultivate to survive the brutal politics of the Imperium.
    • Baron Harkonnen never fails to use Exact Words when making deals with others that will allow him to exploit situations to his benefit later, knowing that this is the only way to protect oneself from being implicated by a Bene Gesserit Truthsayer. Also shows up during his interaction with Duke Leto — when the man starts whispering prayers through his drug-induced paralysis, the Baron immediately triggers his personal shield (despite the other man being paralyzed and naked) before daring to get close enough to hear them. This is what ultimately saves his life when the Duke triggers his poison gas tooth.
    • Subverted with Duke Leto. He was fully aware that by granting him overlordship of Arrakis the Emperor had maneuvered him into an inescapable trap. He just wasn't paranoid enough to realize that the trap would be triggered by one of his own trusted servants.
  • Prophet Eyes: The Mentats develop these briefly when they are performing calculations. It is the only hint in the film that they aren't quite normal humans.
  • Putting on the Reich: Inverted, as the members of the most honorable house in the galaxy wear snazzy black dress uniforms with jackboots as well as drab grey battle armor. Also played straight with the Harkonnens, who are all pale-skinned, wear black armor and plan to engage in a genocide of the Fremen, and the Sardaukar are dressed in light grey Stormtrooper-esque gear, with the shots of them standing in massive formations possibly referencing Leni Riefenstahl's work.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Harkonnens gain back control of Arrakis, kill Duke Leto and wipe out House Atreides, but Paul and Jessica get away and join up with the Fremen, the Baron is almost killed by poison gas and is left severely weakened, and the Harkonnens are now caught in the same trap that the Atreides were, trying to produce enough spice to satisfy the Emperor at the risk of his severe displeasure.
  • Quality vs. Quantity: On Salusa Secundus, the Sardaukar Bashar questions why they are being ordered to assist Baron Harkonnen, since his soldiers outnumber those of House Atreides. Piter de Vries patiently explains that, thanks to Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho, "the Atreides legions are the finest in the Imperium" (present company excepted, of course). This is fulfilled when the Harkonnens storm the entrance to the Arrakeen Palace, and a single line of Atreides soldiery is enough to hold them at bay, until the Sardaukar intervene.
  • Race Lift:
    • Dr. Liet-Kynes is portrayed by Sharon Duncan-Brewster, who is black. In the novels, Kynes is mentioned to have sandy blond hair and turns out to have a redhead daughter, making him likely either Caucasian or, given the desert theme, Berber (as they can be fair-haired in real life), if not some mix of races.
    • Chani, portrayed here as having a definitely black mother, is played by a biracial actress. In the novels, Chani was described as Ambiguously Brown at most and having tawny red hair.
    • Downplayed with Duncan Idaho, who is played by Jason Momoa (an actor of white, Native Hawaiian and Native American descent). In the books, Idaho is described as looking both Mediterranean and Asian, with dark skin and curly hair (which Momoa has) and epicanthic folds (which Momoa doesn't have).
    • In case you haven't read the books, this was actually averted with the Atreides family - a few parodies cracked jokes that Chalamet (of French descent) doesn't look like he's the son of Oscar Isaac (of Latino descent), but that's actually how they're described in the novel: Paul is said to have his mother's pale skin tone and most of her bone structure, except for his keen eyes, which closely resemble those of his father (Gurney Halleck actually remarks on how much he thinks Paul looks like Leto's father). Otherwise, Duke Leto is described as having olive-toned skin, thus vaguely "Mediterranean" looking - fitting the Greek-mixed-with-Spanish-bullfighters aesthetic of Caladan. Thus Oscar Isaac actually looks a lot closer to how Leto is described in the books than either of the two prior actors who played the role in other adaptations.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: While the Harkonnens succeed in recapture Arrakis, Paul joins the Fremen, and will one day lead a rebellion to defeat the Harkonnens once and for all.
  • Reactionless Drive: Most spacecraft and orbital landers have no visible thrusters, rocket engines, or other signs of propulsion, yet navigate just fine.
  • Real Is Brown: The film is desaturated with the prominent color being brown/orange.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The four-note motif that Hans Zimmer uses as the main Dune theme (heard in "Leaving Caladan", "My Road Leads Into the Desert", and "The Shortening of the Way" in the Sketchbook album) is a slowed-down portion of the bridge from Zimmer's Man of Steel theme ("What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?").
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The little desert mouse that Paul keeps seeing. Also applies in real life, as the audio that was used for the mouse's squeaks came from wildlife photo/videographer Dani O'Connor's recordings of Baby Pear, an orphaned red squirrel she helped raise.
  • Run or Die: Jessica and Paul running from the sandworm and barely escaping it.
  • Sand Worm: Shai-Hulud, of course. Its individual scales are the size of buildings. And the one which attacks the spice harvester crew earlier on appears to be considerably bigger than that. These are creatures you would worship too if you had to live with them.
  • Say My Name: Two instances one in the real world and one in Paul's dreams:
    • The Atreides army likes to repeat the house name as part of their battle cry.
    • The voices in Paul's dreams repeat his name - especially that of Chani.
  • Scenery Censor: Leto finds himself in a very precarious situation while completely naked, although any indecent parts are covered by a large dining table and his chair.
  • Scenery Porn: Villeneuve's artistic depictions of the various worlds, and Arrakis above all, is simply incredible. The visuals are Ridley Scott levels of jaw-dropping.
  • Schizo Tech: As the norm for the franchise, technology levels run the gamut from medieval to futuristic, landing at just about every point in between. Sword combat is juxtaposed with high-tech shields and lasers (high-tech shields actually being the reason blades have come back into prominence). Flying craft with flapping wings and hot-air balloons are juxtaposed with space flight. Paul, meanwhile, learns about Arrakis from filmbooks that display holograms as well as paper books bound in leather.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After killing a couple of Harkonnen guards at an airstrip, Duncan intimidates the remaining guards to run away as he commandeers an ornithopter.
  • Sequel Hook: Paul and Jessica finding and joining the Fremen, along with Paul seeing a sandworm being rode and beginning his connection to Chani as well.
    Paul: Desert power.
    Chani: This is only the beginning.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Two to Apocalypse Now:
      • The Bald of Evil Baron Harkonnen exits a sauna rubbing his head the same way Colonel Kurtz does, both while monologuing.
      • Later, he rises from a pool of oil akin to Willard at the film's climax.
    • The clash between the Atreides line and the Harkonnen Zerg Rush was deliberately modeled on "the iconic Odessa Steps sequence" from The Battleship Potemkin.
  • Show, Don't Tell: In stark contrast with the Info Dump-heavy Lynch film, Villeneuve tried to use as little exposition as possible unless absolutely necessary, focusing on visuals and organic dialogue to present the world and characters. This comes at the cost of leaving some elements ambiguous or unexplained, though the core of the plot remains relatively easy to follow.
  • Single Tear:
    • Paul sheds one while having visions of the holy war that will be waged in his name.
    • One runs down Duke Leto's face as he sits paralyzed and forced to listen to the Baron Harkonnen narrate the death of House Atreides, while waiting to use his poison tooth which will also end his own life.
  • Sitting Duck: After Doctor Yueh disables the palace's shields, a surprise Harkonnen assault destroys most of the Atreides fleet before they can leave the ground.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The Baron's plan to strand Jessica and Paul in the desert after the massacre. As Jessica's a Bene Gesserit, his soldiers are careful to gag her to prevent her from using the Voice. However, the plan fails because the Baron didn't know Jessica had been instructing Paul in the Sisterhood's arts (against Bene Geserit rules), or that he'd be able to (more or less) finally use the Voice himself when it mattered most. It can also be justified in-story as Yueh seemingly did not pass on what intel he saw about Paul's Bene Gesserit abilities to the Harkonnens.
      • The earlier assassination attempt on Paul also fails for similiar reasons: As the Baron didn't know about Paul's home schooling in the Bene Geserit arts, the Harkonnen assassin had no way of knowing that the Atreides heir's reflexes had been honed to the point where he could move faster than a Hunter-Seeker. Since the operative kills himself to prevent being taken alive by Thufir, the Baron doesn't learn why the assassination failed. And again, presumably Yueh did not pass on his suspicions or intel to Geidi Prime.
    • Once Lyet Kynes defects and sides with Paul and Jessica, the plan is for her to contact the Landsraad and expose Shaddam's betrayal and House Harkonnen's complicity. Doing so will allow the House Atreides survivors to rally political and military support against the Emperor. Unfortunately, Kynes is ambushed by the Sardaukar before she can leave the Ecological station. With Paul subsequently choosing to remain on Arakkis rather than flee offworld, the Landsraad is thus left in the dark about what really happened on Arakis.
    • When Paul and Jessica seek out the Fremen following the massacre, the hope was to try and use their resources and contacts to smuggle Paul off-world to safety. What Jessica didn't anticipate was that Paul's visions and the ritual combat with Jamis would change her son's mind and convince him to remain on Arakkis with the Fremen.
  • Spiteful Spit: Played With; Stilgar spits in front of Leto, which the Atreides retainers interpret as an insult. However, Duncan (who has spent time with the Fremen) recognizes it as a respectful gesture; the Fremen (as a desert people) highly value bodily moisture, and so Stilgar is showing respect.
  • Stacked Characters Poster: Several movie posters follow the trend of stacking all main characters into a column.
  • Strange Salute: House Atreides' battle salute consists of holding a blade vertically and touching the fist holding it to the heart, then rotating the blade horizontally and touching the flat of the blade to the forehead. This symbolizes that the heart and mind are a warrior's weapons as much as the blade.
  • Sudden Soundtrack Stop: During the crawler rescue, Paul steps out into the deep desert to direct the workers towards their evacuation ships. He is then engulfed by a wave of sand tossed up by a departing thopter, causing the BGM to cut out. (This then gets Played for Drama when the wave of swirling sand includes spice, which has a galvanizing effect on his senses.)
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    Rabban: Uncle, how can we let this happen? How can the Emperor... TAKE! EVERYTHING WE'VE BUILT! AND GIVE IT TO THAT DUKE?! HOW?!
  • Summon Bigger Fish: After the Sardaukar stab her, Liet-Kynes pounds on the sand to draw the sandworm she called with her thumper in faster, so it will eat her attackers as well as her.
  • Symbolic Blood:
    • The personal Deflector Shield used by most combatants will flicker blue when weapons are being deflected away from the wearer, but will flicker red when something gets through. In massive battle scenes, the red flicker happens a lot, though very little actual blood is seen.
    • When Liet Kynes is stabbed in the back, water dramatically spurts out of her breached stillsuit instead of blood to show how dangerous the loss of moisture is out in the desert.
  • Table Space:
    • When Jessica and Paul are having breakfast at the palace, they sit spread apart on a large table which emphasizes an emotional distance between them.
    • Also the shot of the Baron talking to the captured Leto at the other end of an extremely long table.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Duke Leto bites down on a poison gas capsule in an attempt to take down the Harkonnens. He takes out everyone in the room (including Piter de Vries) except for the Baron himself. Lampshaded; when Yueh tells him about it, he mentions that this breath would also be his last.
    • During his Last Stand, Duncan Idaho takes out multiple soldiers before being fatally stabbed. And then he removes the blade he was stabbed with and takes down more before finally dying.
    • After being stabbed by the Sardaukar, Liet-Kynes pounds on the sand to draw the sandworm she called with her thumper in faster, so it will devour her attackers as well as her.
  • Test of Pain: Paul must pass the gom jabbar test to prove his abilities. Reverend Mother Mohiam puts the gom jabbar (a needle coated in a lethal poison) to his neck, and he must keep his hand in a box that inflicts tremendous pain on it, otherwise he will be killed by the poison. Interestingly, the mental struggle Paul goes through to master the pain seems to help awaken his abilities, which the Reverend Mother reacts to with noticeable unease.
    Paul: Why are you doing this?
    Mohiam: An animal caught in a trap will gnaw off its own leg to escape. What will you do?
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Gurney tries to remind Stilgar of this to no avail, Leto calms things by having him back off.
    Gurney: You will address as "my lord Duke" or "Sire"
    Leto: Gurney, just a moment.
  • A Thicket of Spears: One scene in the Battle of Arrakeen shows Atreides legionnaires using a formation of swordsmen supported by pikemen behind them to defend the palace from Harkonnen soldiers (projectile weapons being mostly useless in the setting because of the ubiquity of Deflector Shields). They easily fend off the Harkonnens' initial charge, but this is only a diversion from the Sardaukar air-dropping in behind them: the ensuing two-pronged attack goes much better for the attackers.
  • Thirsty Desert: While this is nothing new to the franchise, the aspect of how arid and dry Arrakis is expounded upon in great detail. What makes Arrakis more alien in this adaptation is how the three other worlds in the movie all have abundant amounts of water: Caladan has vast oceans and lush vegetation, Salusa Secundus is hit with heavy rain, Geidi Prime has constant humidity leaking everywhere. Arrakis has none of those things. The planet is very, extremely dry, and water is valued as more precious than gold. It further drives just how inhospitable Arrakis really is. The scene of watering the date palms is just one of many examples illustrating the arid brutality of the planet.
  • Title 1: The film's true title is Dune: Part One, since the novel has been Divided for Adaptation. Part Two has been greenlit for release in 2023.
  • Title Drop: Courtesy of Baron Harkonnen.
    Baron: My desert. My Arrakis. My Dune.
  • Title In: All locations (like Caladan and Giedi Prime) are first announced with on-screen labels.
  • Toros y Flamenco: The Atreides family has Mediterranean roots according to supplementary materials, and this is reflected by them having practiced bullfighting up to the previous generation, with artwork in Caladan still representing the sport. No flamenco, as the Atreides musicians favor bagpipes instead, although, fittingly, the gaitas or bagpipes are representative of Spain too, in this case of the northern land of Galicia (and to add another reference, their first piper plays in Arabic scale, possibly referencing Al-Ándalus).
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Viewers familiar with the book will be able to tell from the first trailer that Paul becomes the new Duke of House Atreides, as Duncan addresses him as such. It's only not a spoiler for everyone else because the trailer avoids calling Leto a Duke too.
    • Zig-zagged when the main trailer goes a step further and outright spoils that Leto dies by giving focus to him being stabbed In the Back, and him giving Jessica an "if anything happens to me" talk, regardless of whether or not the viewer knows how it happens in the book. The trailer does not, however, depict the scene from the novel where Leto actually dies attempting to assassinate the Baron by means of a poisonous fake tooth.
    • Even before the trailers, the first wave of promo pics counts as well for book readers since one appears to show Duncan's last stand, confirming it happens more similarly to the book in contrast to prior depictions. The trailers themselves show it, but they and the image in question don't otherwise telegraph his fate.
  • Trial by Combat: Paul has to fight Jamis to the death in order to prove his worthiness to the Fremen.
  • Underwater Base: The Atreides seem to have built bases in Caladan's lakes, as at least one of their frigates is seen emerging from underwater before taking off.
  • Unflinching Walk: During the Harkonnen invasion, Gurney Halleck and his men walk away from the airfield with a Determined Expression on their faces while their airships are exploding in the background.
  • Used Future: But only on Arrakis where everything is subject to the harsh desert conditions, plus Harkonnen made sure to leave only worn-out equipment.
  • Waif-Fu: The film doesn't bother pretending we won't notice Timothée Chalamet's slender frame, with Duncan playfully ribbing Paul about not putting on muscle. Also, his mother looks very classically feminine and delicate. But both are products of selective breeding and well-trained in advanced forms of close combat, and easily trounce skilled and muscular warriors like Jamis and Stilgar, respectively.
  • Warm Place, Warm Lighting: Paul's visions are given a bright, golden hue — the color of spice.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Paul and Jessica crest a dune and see the burning city of Arrakeen after escaping the Harkonnens.
  • We Have Reserves: In the opening scene, the Harkonnen harvester drives off a Fremen attack by indiscriminately firing rockets into the melee, seemingly killing a number of their own men.
  • We Need a Distraction: It might be a coincidence, but right when the Ornithopter carrying Paul and Jessica to their (deniable) deaths takes off, the Harkonnen launch a saturation bombing of the city, ensuring everyone else will be looking over there instead (or dying).
  • We Will Wear Armor in the Future:
    • The film is set in 10191note  and Leto, Gurney and a battalion of the Atreides army (though neither Paul nor Jessica) wear plated suits of armor when landing on Arrakis.
    • In one of Paul's holy war dreams, the suit he wears in battle against the Sardaukar looks more medieval-ish and plated than the usual Fremen stillsuits.
  • Wham Shot: Paul tells Jessica about his spice-induced vision of the future, and we see an army of white-clad warriors led by a graceful Dance Battler. When his mask opens... it's Paul himself, with the blue eyes of a Fremen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Gurney Halleck disappears after the Harkonnen attack on Arrakis, and Thufir Hawat only appears before the film's halfway mark (due to this character's major Sub Plot being Adapted Out).
  • The Worf Effect: House Atreides' troops are said to be among the best in the Imperium and actually do a good job holding back the Harkonnen. Then the Sardaukar appear and demonstrate their own lethality by mowing through the Atreides. And then the Fremen show their own prowess by taking on the Sardaukar and killing a good number of them before being overwhelmed.
  • Wormsign: Created by the Sand Worms, naturally.
  • You Didn't See That: Judge of Change Liet Kynes, the person who is tasked to determine and report whether the handover of Arrakis is done properly, and without foul play, was ordered by the Emperor to not only turn a blind eye to the fact the Harkonnens left the Atreides no good equipment to harvest spice with, but also ignore the blatantly obvious fact that the Emperor's own elite soldiers are openly supporting the Harkonnen attack against the Atreides.
    Liet: I am commanded to say nothing.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: When the Harkonnens' troops march into the Arrakeen Palace, a thin blue line of Atreides soldiers blocks the entrance to the foyer. They are holding their own quite well against the Harkonnen Zerg Rush, until the Sardaukar appear behind them.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: On Arrakis, lighter-than-air dirigibles are used alongside other modes of flight, in particular the Carryalls that deploy balloons when lifting one of the massive harvesters. Also, the Harkonnen troop landers.

Alternative Title(s): Dune Part One


The Voice

Reverend Mother Mohiam uses the Voice to command Paul Atreides to approach her and kneel.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CompellingVoice

Media sources: