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Dune Review, Part 3

Exiled into the desert and taken to the Fremen.

In the previous review, we discussed how Duke Leto was betrayed, and how the movie made some smart choices concerning what scenes to cut and leave in from the book. Now, we’re going to talk about the fate of Paul and Jessica. Then we will end with some final thoughts on the first movie, and return to the world of Dune when the sequel comes out in March 2024.

Paul and Jessica wake up on an aircraft being driven by some of the Emperor’s personal guard, the Sardaukar. To escape, they use something called “the voice,” an old Bene Gesserit trick, that compels someone to obey whatever command is given. I’m not a big fan of this power. Whenever you can remove someone’s will entirely, the question becomes why a character wouldn’t use such power all the time, and what would happen if they did? How could you honestly expect there to be a conflict of any kind, when a person can simply talk their way out of a jam?

Regardless, Paul and Jessica use the voice to force the Sardaukar flying the craft to kill each other and escape, but before they go, they find the pack Dr.Yueh, the reluctant traitor who turned the Duke into the Harkonnens, left behind. In this pack, they find various supplies as well as Duke Leto’s signet ring. This ring is enough for them to confirm that the Duke is dead. Paul is now the head of House Atreides. On top of all this, Paul is having an increasing number of visions because of the spice floating around the desert air.

Surprise Attack

The two are found by Duncan Idaho, the man who’d established a working relationship with the Fremen. He takes them to Dr. Liet-Kynes who, turns out, is the leader of the Fremen. Paul insists that if Kynes would be willing to testify about the Emperor’s role in the plot, he can use that information to dethrone the galactic ruler. Kynes is dubious, but Paul utilizes his Bene Gesserit training to, at least, make the doctor hopeful that he might be the promised savior of Arrakis.

But before Kynes can help them, the Sardaukar launch a surprise attack on the Fremen, and Paul, Jessica, and Kynes are forced to flee. Duncan Idaho stays behind and sacrifices himself to buy them more time. In the end, Kynes is killed, while Paul and Jessica escape by hiding in a sandstorm. This storm causes their aircraft to crash, and after climbing out of the wreckage, Paul and Jessica rush to find Stilgar, the Fremen’s second in command. They make a long journey across the desert, and after a close call with a sandworm, find the Fremen.

But Stilgar and his men are even less willing to help than Dr. Kynes. Stilgar agrees to take Paul, but he doesn’t believe Jessica can survive in the desert, so he decides to kill her. This leads to a fight, but Jessica easily overpowers the man, while Paul fights his way to the top of a cliff, where he meets Chani, a woman he’s been seeing consistently in his many visions.

Visions of What Could Be

Having reached this part of the story, I feel now is a good time to address these visions in detail. They are not visions of the future in the strict sense, but rather, they are possibilities, potential outcomes, assuming Paul makes certain choices. This works well enough, but I feel the movie made a mistake during this portion of the film. Throughout these visions in the movie, Paul has been seeing another individual. His name is Jamis. In the visions, Jamis is a friend, and his advice helps Paul navigate the sandstorm he used to escape the Sardaukar. However, when Paul finally meets the man, Jamis insists on fighting either Paul or Jessica. He’s determined to not let them join the Fremen. Frankly, this made no sense. Jamis is so hostile from the outset, that it’s hard to imagine he and Paul ever being friends. Furthermore, the implication is that Paul must’ve made some sort of mistake to create a scenario where he and Jamis fight to the death, but it’s impossible to say what this mistake might’ve been. This is a significant plot hole because it is Jamis’s advice that saves Paul’s life.

But for whatever reason, when Stilgar relents and says the two can, at least, stay with the Fremen long enough to reach their home, where the two’s fate will be determined, Jamis insists on fighting either Jessica or her champion so he can prove they are not worthy. Paul, of course, becomes Jessica’s champion, and the two men fight. Paul wins kills Jamis and is accepted as a Fremen.

The movie ends with Paul and Jessica traveling alongside the Fremen, and on the way, they see one of the Fremen riding a sandworm, which helps explain how they are able to traverse the desert. He then sees Chani at an angle which is similar to a view he’d had of her during a vision and concludes that he is on the right track. Jessica; however, is not happy that this young woman has already attracted her son’s attention.

All in all, I’d say both the movie and the book are worth your time. My greatest complaint with the book is that the ending feels very rushed, and I cannot help but think this is because Vladimir Harkonnen did not die when he should’ve. This choice on the part of Frank Herbert left a loose plot thread in the story that had to be dealt with like an afterthought. I would also add that if you choose to read the book, you should do so more than once because there are a number of details which are easy to miss.

As for the movie, I’d say it’s very well done. With the exception of adding Jamis to the visions, the writers did an excellent job adapting the book for cinema. The cast is strong, and the visuals are impressive, and I’m excited to see how they wrap everything up in the sequel.        

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Dune Review, Part 3