Frank Herbert’s epic series of space opera novels began all the way back in 1965. Published by a printing house best known for publishing auto repair manuals, the first book in the series, Dune, became an almost instant success, winning the first-ever Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966 and becoming one of the foundations of modern science fiction and fantasy fiction. Herbert wrote five sequels to the original, creating a huge and bizarre world with a colorful array of characters that fans still love.
Since the mid-1980s, the Dune series has been the subject of numerous failed adaptations. Everything from video games to a cult classic from famed director David Lynch’s first novel has been released, but none have lived up to Herbert’s classic. With the release of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation on the big screen and rave early reviews from critics and fans alike, it looks like readers will finally see Paul Atreides’ epic story hit the big screen. However, with a series known for its mind-boggling concepts and sometimes questionable content, fans are left wondering how much of Herbert’s distant future vision will be adapted for what will hopefully be a new franchise of film and television.
Warning! Spoilers for the whole Dune series are imminent.
The First Last Jedi
With the release of 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedic, fans of the classic space opera were divided into two ranks. One side loved writer/director Rian Johnson’s spin on the franchise and applauded his new take on Luke Skywalker, and the other side of the fandom heralded The Last Jedi as the worst movie in the Skywalker Saga. The main problem fans had with the eighth Star Wars The picture was how Luke had been transformed from a hero with a positive outlook on life into a wizened old depressed person who refused to help the galaxy’s battle.
A similar transformation from hero to semi-villain takes place in the second Dune novel, Dune Messiah. After Baron Harkonnen’s triumphant defeat at the climax of the first book, readers assumed Herbert would take his hero on further adventures that would portray Paul in a positive light. Fans were shocked to find that Herbert instead portrayed an oppressed and hopeless man unable to stop the violence he inadvertently caused. For fans of the books, it’s hopeful that future film adaptations will stick to Herbert’s vision, but given the extreme response Star Wars fans had to The Last Jedi can deter filmmakers from going down such a dark path.
The Spice Orgy
Midway through the first book in the series, after a ceremony in which Paul’s mother drinks the poisonous Water of Life to become the new Reverend Mother to the native people of Arrakis, the Fremen, a strange and psychedelic scene ensues. Simply a celebration by the Freemen, the event has been dubbed a “herb orgy” due to the fact that every person present begins to hallucinate and their inhibitions are eased by the narcotic LSD-inspired herbal blend.
The scene itself is not overtly explicit in nature, although Herbert does mention that there is a wild frenzy of sex and dance involved. See like the first Dune movie has a PG-13 rating, it is doubtful whether this orgy scene will be included. It may somehow be portrayed due to the fact that it’s halfway (and because the movie is apparently the first half of the book) in the novel, but it certainly won’t feature nudity or sexual situations.
The Jihad of Muad’Dib
Twelve years after the events of Dune, Paul reigns as emperor and the messiah for the Freemen. The religious extremists by whom he is worshiped have spread across the universe and conquered every planet, killing billions of innocents along the way. Paul is powerless to stop the jihad or to renounce the mythological deity he has become.
There are two reasons why this massive, bloody jihad might not be included in the movies. First, twelve years in one movie or even one montage would be overwhelming for the audience, and an epic, galaxy-spanning war seems better suited for a television series. Second, moviegoers may not like to see their hero powerless and the rebellious Freemen become bloodthirsty fanatics.
In creating a believable science fiction universe, writers must incorporate readers into their work with detailed, layered world construction. This may include the creation of new religions, new languages, other planets and advances in science and/or technology. One of Herbert’s strengths as a writer is his world construction and the universe of Dune is both fascinatingly strange and strangely familiar.
However, a very small piece of world-building probably won’t show up in upcoming movie adaptations due to the fact that it’s completely ridiculous. Introduced in the fifth book in the series, “chair dogs” are quirky furniture pieces that are bio-designed dogs in the form of chairs. They are used as massage chairs for the resident.
Dune Messiah Paul’s pre-born sister (a child still in the womb aware of their existence and past lives) gave Alia a defined character that readers instantly fell in love with. She was no longer the strange child who helped thwart the Harkonnens. Instead, she was a confident, rebellious young woman who would claim the role of Regent of the Atreides Empire by the end of the novel.
May or may not Messiah will ever be fully adapted for the big screen is in the air, but one thing fans can be sure of is the fact that one scene in the second Dune book is not displayed. In a private training room, Alia strips down to her birthday costume and brutally battles a training dummy to prepare for close combat. Her brother Paul interrupts the training and Herbert’s description of the scene reveals some disturbing, slightly incestuous undertones.
Leto II becomes a God
The children of Paul Atreides, like their aunt Alia, are strange creatures with the foresight to see into the future. Leto (named after Paul’s father) discovers through his visions the Golden Path (an ideal timeline of events revealed only to the Bene Gesserit sisterhood and the hero known as the Kwisatz Haderach). Unlike his father, Leto understands the path and the sacrifices required to follow it closely.
To gain such a better understanding of the future and time, Leto undergoes a terrifying transformation. By accepting sand trout on his body, he is slowly mutated into a sandworm/human hybrid that would fit right in with the work of directors like Guillermo del Toro.
The new dune
The planet Dune (technically called Arrakis) is undergoing several environmental transformations throughout the world Dune series. Starting out as a barren, inhospitable world in the first novel and slowly becoming a green place full of life, Arrakis undergoes a drastic and violent change in book five, Heretics of Dune.
In a failed attempt to redeem the universe of Duncan Idaho (who was once a close friend of Paul and his devoted servant/battle trainer), the Honored Matres destroy the planet Arrakis, turning them into a ravaged plain where nothing can grow. The Bene Gesserit successfully escape with the last remaining sandworm and transform their homeworld of Chapterhouse into a new Dune. This is not only far in the Dune timeline, it’s also one of the most over-the-top and campy moments in the series.
The Honored Matres
Herbert is late Dune novels are divisive among fans, with some readers claiming he went over the edge with some of his bizarre concepts and sometimes perverted imaginations. A perfect example is the all-female group known as the Honored Matres. Derived from an offshoot of the Bene Gesserit, this organization believed in gaining total control over everyone else, and their primary means of achieving that hierarchy was through sexual slavery.
During the two thousand years between the death of Emperor Leto Atreides II and their arrival, the honored matres developed intercourse into a form of narcotic, turning men into servants of their cause through addiction. A strange and perhaps outdated concept, it would be easy to see why filmmakers will avoid the Honored Matres in the future.
Clones exist in the Dune universe, though not in the way Star Wars she depicts. In DunePaul’s faithful companion, Duncan Idaho, meets his unfortunate end in battle against a team of Harkonnen soldiers. Later, when Paul takes the throne as emperor, Idaho returns, now a “ghola” created by the Bene Tleilax.
Idaho is killed again (this time by his wife and Paul’s sister, Alia), and he is reincarnated again as a clone of himself. During Leto Atreides II’s reign as emperor, Idaho returns time and again to serve Leto. This constant cloning will most likely not be included in the future Dune sequels due to the fact that Jason Momoa (who plays Idaho in the upcoming movie) probably doesn’t want to play the same role for what could potentially be a dozen more movies – never say never, though.
The Butlerian Jihad
It is currently unknown how many of the Dune expanded universe Warner Bros. plans to include in their new cinematic universe, but one piece of history in the books that most likely won’t be included is Butlerian Jihad.
Mentioned only a handful of times in Frank Herbert’s original series (and later expanded upon by Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and famed sci-fi writer Kevin J. Anderson), this conflict between artificial intelligence and humanity is much more action-packed. than the rest of Dune and for some fans, it just doesn’t feel like it fits into the rest of Herbert’s world.
UP NEXT: 10 Movies To Watch To Get Excited For Dune
Letitia Wright Denies Black Panther 2 Set Behavior Reports
About the author