Decoding The Lores Of ‘Dune’: A Brief Guide To The World Of Factions, Sand Worm & Spice
Get yourself up to speed ahead of the Oscar-nominated film’s release on Amazon Prime Video on March 25
“Let the spice flow” was one of the biggest buzzwords last year, when Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated magnum opus Dune hit the screens in October. Since the release, the movie has garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, with Oscar nominations in 10 different categories, including a nod for Best Picture, Cinematography, Visual Effects and more.
In case you missed out on watching the sci-fi classic on the big screen, fret not. Amazon Prime Video will be bringing the Oscar-nominated movie to our screens this Friday, on March 25, 2022.
That said, getting to know the world of Dune can be a little intimidating. Hence, we’ve created a brief guide on the intricacies of Frank Herbert’s tangled, yet thrilling work of art.
The world of Dune is set thousands of years into the future, where humans have colonized a major part of the universe and banned all types of Artificial Intelligence. Each of these worlds is ruled by an aristocratic house, which has its own set of rules and culture. All of the houses are united under an umbrella and ruled with an iron fist by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.
Our story starts when Duke Leto, played by Oscar Isaac of the House Atreides is given the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. The planet of Arrakis is a far cry from the Atreides’ home planet, Caladan, a green and lush eutopia.
Instead, Arrakis is an incredibly hostile desert planet, with deadly sandstorms and colossal sandworm attacks being the everyday norm. However, it serves as a place of extreme importance for the Emperor and humanity both. It is the only planet where ”Melange” or “Spice” is found and processed.
What Is Spice?
Spice is an extremely important commodity in the world of Dune. The consumption of it allows the Spacing Guild Navigators to conduct interstellar travel. But its uses don’t end there. Spice can also give you psychotropic abilities and can extend youth, vitality and lifespan.
The way Spice is produced is also interesting in its regard, but we won’t spoil it for you. What’s important to know here is that collecting it is a difficult task. Due to its explosive nature and hazardous properties, Spice can only be collected through a Harvester.
However, not only the Harvester has to handle this volatile material but also have to avoid surface-shattering sandworms. To do this, Aircrafts known as Carryalls lift Harvesters are employed. But as is expected of such an inhospitable world, things go south very quickly. As you’ll find out when you watch the movie.
Without Spice, the whole Dune universe, or Duniverse, would come to a grinding halt. Hence, whoever holds the keys to Arrakis thereby becomes one of the most powerful and wealthy houses in the empire. Before the arrival of House Atreides, the production of it was handled by House Harkonnen, a historic rival of the Atreides clan. This brings us to…
Different Factions In The Dune Universe
House Atreides: Arguably, one of the very few good guys in our story, the House Atreides is led by the benevolent Duke Leto Atreides. He along with his son, Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet) and partner Lady Jessica (played by Rebecca Ferguson) see their life uprooted when they are unceremoniously moved to the desert planet by the Padishah Emperor.
The Emperor also sees House Atreides as a threat to his reign. Now, you may be wondering why would the Emperor put Duke Leto in a more powerful position? We’ll save that one for when you watch the movie.
House Harkonnen: The House Harkonnen is a direct contrast to the House of Atreides. They are also one of the wealthiest members of the Empire, thanks to their cruel and sadistic rule over Arrakis. They are led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (played by Stellan Skarsgård), who is outraged over losing control of Arrakis to his generational rival.
The Bene Gesserit: The Bene Gesserit are an all-female religious group, that is focused on acquiring power and influencing humanity. The members of Bene Gesserit are often referred to as “witches” due to their supernatural abilities, made possible by spice consumption.
In the movie, their leader Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam is obsessed with producing an all-powerful Bene Gesserit superhuman, called the Kwisatz Haderach. Think of it as their version of the “chosen one.” To accomplish this, she tasks Lady Jessica to form a romantic alliance with Duke Leto and produce a daughter. Instead, Jessica has a son, Paul Atreides, who’s plagued by a dream of mysterious women and is slowly coming to terms with accepting his destiny.
The Fremen: These are the natives of Arrakis. Under the rule of House Harkonnen, they were subjected to unimaginable brutality and inhuman treatment. However, they have extensive knowledge about their planet and often use it to their advantage to survive. They are waiting for the arrival of their chosen one, “Lisan al Gaib.” The Fremen are a nomadic tribe led by Stilgar (played by Javier Bardem). One of the members of this tribe is Chani (played by Zendaya), who plays the role of narrator and acts as a guide to Paul.
For now, we’ve barely scratched the surface. The Dune lore is brimming with ingenious science fiction and political elements. We’ll be covering more about the Duniverse, but until then don’t forget to check it out on Amazon Prime Video.
(All image credits: Legendary Pictures)