The Most Confusing Moments In Denis Villeneuve’s Dune Explained

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Written By Sedoso Feb

There are five tribes in “Dune” one needs to know: House Atreides, House Harkonnen, House Corrino, the Fremen, and the Bene Gesserit. It is the year AD 10,191, and humans have mastered space travel and colonized other planets in the galaxy. Most of our story takes place on the planet Arrakis, a hotly contested desert world that modern citizens have nicknamed Dune. Arrakis is hotly contested because it is the only known location of a spice called melange.

The spice is a handy resource. It’s essentially a drug that, when consumed, expands consciousness and can grant the user mild psychic powers. It’s also required for space travel, as only someone with a spice-expanded mind can accurately pilot much-faster-than-light spacecraft through vast distances in the cosmos. Overconsumption of the spice causes its users to mutate, and the navigators from the Spacing Guild — the organization in charge of space travel — tend to be large, fleshy creatures. A member of the guild appeared in an outsize glass tank in Lynch’s “Dune,” but they haven’t yet been seen in Villeneueve’s version.

Naturally, whoever controls the flow of spice is going to have a great deal of power. One can easily see a metaphor between the spice-rich deserts of Arrakis and the real-world oil-rich deserts of the Middle East.

The story begins when House Atreides — led by Duke Leto — is ordered by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (of House Corrino) to take over control of Arrakis. Leto moves from his comfortable, watery planet of Caladan, taking his partner Jessica and his son Paul. Paul Atreides is the protagonist of the story. In Villeneuve’s film, he’s played by Timothée Chalamet.

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