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Dune: Part Two - We Recap the Story So Far

12/29/2023 • 4 min read

It has been two years since we visited the planet Dune. Now, as Dune 2 is in theaters, we thought we would remind you of some of the key story points in the original movie, and give you a sense of what's to come in the second movie.

The Most Important Thing to Know

DUNE PART TWO tells you nearly everything you need to know as the movie goes on. But one fact is useful to know or remember. The first movie ended with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) dueling with Jamis, a Fremen warrior, and killing him. 

PART TWO begins shortly after that duel, which explains why the Fremen are mostly mad at Paul, and why they do not trust him. There are exceptions, such as the Fremen leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem), who believes the prophecy which suggests that Paul might be a messiah.

Dune: Part Two | Cinemark

Let's Talk About Spice

Spice is the ultimate currency in the universe. That is because it is the only substance which enables interstellar travel. Those who use Spice skillfully can "fold space and time,” allowing ships to travel from one point to another almost instantaneously. The economy and social web of the universe depends entirely on Spice.

Problem is, Spice is found only on the planet Arrakis, aka Dune. The planet is therefore a hotly-contested chunk of rock. Whoever controls the planet is particularly powerful.

Enter the Emperor

Not just anyone can take control of Dune. That honor is handed out by the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, played in DUNE: PART TWO by the legendary Christopher Walken. He has a vested interest in control of spice, because that directly relates to his own control of the universe.

There's also the X-factor of the Emperor’s daughter, Irulan, played in part two by Florence Pugh. We won't tell you too much about her goals, but they are not always aligned with those of her father.

Why Did the Emperor Send the Atreides to Arakkis?

The Emperor sends the Atreides to Arrakis to destroy them. Duke Leto (played by Oscar Isaac) is becoming powerful enough to potentially challenge the Emperor. The Emperor likes his position and wants to shut down any potential challenge to his power.

Sending the Atreides to Arrakis achieves two goals. One is setting up the Atreides family for destruction by the Harkonnens, with a little help from Imperial forces. Another is reminding the Harkonnens that they still need the Emperor’s help.

Why Do the Atreides Go to Arrakis?

Dune: Part Two | Cinemark

Duke Leto isn’t stupid. He knows the Emperor is “giving” him Arrakis as a trap. But he knows the Arrakis natives are important, and that an alliance with them might create a power base strong enough to challenge the Emperor. “Desert power,” as the Duke says, might be the way to rebuild a less oppressive governing structure.

Don’t Forget the Fremen

A key aspect of life on Arrakis is that the native Fremen population has been deliberately marginalized by Imperial forces that colonize and control the planet. Duke Leto’s plan to work with the Fremen rather than subjugating them is a break from Imperial patterns.

The Fremen understand how the planet works — more specifically they know more about where Spice comes from, and whether or not the gigantic sand worms that burrow across the planet have anything to do with it.

As DUNE ended, Paul Atreides and his mother, Jessica, have taken refuge with the Fremen.

How Do the Bene Gesserit Fit In?

The Bene Gesserit is an organization of women who are spiritual leaders, advisors, academics, and consorts. They employ deep strategy and planning, and manipulative and observational techniques, to achieve their goals.

Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers are particularly powerful, as they have ingested the Water of Life, a sort of ultra-concentrated Spice which conveys clairvoyance and generational memory.

Jessica, the consort of Duke Leto Atreides and mother of Paul Atreides, is a Bene Gesserit. For centuries, the group has controlled royal blood lines in the hopes of producing the Kwisatz Haderach, a sort of powerful messiah figure. Jessica was ordered to bear only daughters to the Duke, but she believed her son might be the Kwisatz Haderach, so she bore Paul. Men who drink the Water of Life always die. The Kwisatz Haderach will supposedly be able to drink the Water and live — and gain incredible power in doing so.

What’s Next?

As DUNE: PART TWO opens, House Atreides has been smashed, the Harkonnens have retaken Arrakis, and Paul and Jessica are with the Fremen. The Emperor thinks the situation is more or less over, and the Harkonnens believe they’ve won their war.

But there are more Fremen than anyone thought. The Fremen’s connection to the Spice and sand worms could make them a strong fighting force, especially if they are united by a strong leader…


DUNE: PART TWO opens on March 1.




All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

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