Arrakis is so beautiful… Dune guide part two!
My planet Arrakis is so beautiful when the sun is low. Rolling over the sands, you can see spice in the air. I am days away from my premiere screening of Dune in IMAX. I don’t feel ready emotionally, but tonight I want to make sure that you are ready content-wise for that special night! Ready for part two of Dune survival guide?
Dreams make good stories. But everything important happens when we’re awake?
You know what is actually funny? It’s DAYS to the polish premiere, and not once have I seen the Dune trailer in the movie theater. Not a single time. Which is funny, because The Rise of Skywalker blessed us with the teaser in January. And just a reminder, the premiere of the latest Star Wars movie was in December. But maybe that’s a good thing, you know?
Don’t get me wrong, maybe that’s a good thing – people will be hungry for it. On the other hand, I watched these trailers millions of times and I still feel the hunger. The excitement, the hype. I cannot wait, even though it is so close.
But there are still plenty of things to know about the beautiful world of Arrakis. Are you ready for the ride? Buckle up!
#11 HOUSE ATREIDES
One of the House Major (and there are PLENTY, but just for the sake of sanity, I will describe three of them. Other houses that you can look up are: House Fenring, House Ginaz, House Halleck, House Metulli, House Moritani…), and in the settings of the current Dune world – the good guys. Nobel, honorable and always up for a challenge. Even if it’s a lethal one.
House Atreides maintained the planetary fief of Caladan (or what I like to call “Water planet” and had their center of operation on the planet. They had also ruled it for twenty generations. House Atreides had perfected a form of government that resulted in a well-organized society and a spiritually satisfied people. Again – the good guys. At the request of Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, Leto moved the entire House to planet Arrakis, to take over mining operations of the Spice from House Harkonnen
In Dune we will meet Duke Leto, Lady Jessica and Paul – the byproduct of their love. For me, the two conflicting yet so perfectly fitted personalities of Duke and his lady transferred into Paul. He is 100% Duke Leto and 100% Lady Jessica. But my thoughts on that? Next week, after I watch the movie.
#12 HOUSE HARKONNEN
Another of the great Houses involved in the power struggle on Arrakis. They originated in Giedi Prime, another planet in the Dune universe. Unlike Caladan, Giedi Prime was heavily industrial. House Harkonnen is most famous for its underhanded and sinister political tactics. Cruelty, wicked games and plans within plans. House Harkonnen had a reputation for ambition, malevolence, hatred and brutality.
According to my sources, in the Dune House Harkonnen was absolutely terrifying. And let me tell you, after reading Dune, I was feeling restless and… Scared? Just by reading the description of their cruelty. The everlasting feud between Harkonnens and Atreides has just moved to Arrakis – after the latter took over the planet.
#13 HOUSE CORRINO
Third House Major that I would like to introduce to you. The one that I actually truly hate, for being the conspirator from behind the scenes. They felt slippery to me through the entire book. They used to be the deadliest and most powerful House. And that’s within the Known universe. For many thousands of years the imperial family of the Imperium. The official planet of the Imperial House Corrino was the planet Kaitain while their personal fief was the ancestral exile planet Salusa Secundus.
During their Imperial times, House Corrino maintained (debatably) the most powerful army, the Sardaukar. We will witness the beginning of the downfall of this great House.
Arrakis finest, safe to say. Local people, who witnessed a lifetime of oppression – mainly by the indirect hands of the Emperor. When Arrakis was under the governance of House Harkonnen, they were treated as slaves, an obstacle. The unspeakable cruelty lied upon them.
Fremen considered Arrakis their home. Even though they were fighting to survive almost their entire life. Some of the Fremen were born into this oppression. They do nothing more, except how to stay alive. They were born to fight. Throw in the brutal environment of Arrakis that necessitated the prudent use of energy and resources, especially water. Also, their history with cultural persecution instructed the need for combat knowledge.
The Fremen typically lived in patriarchal collectives (but I think new Dune has a potential to shift the patriarchy for the glory of women), known as sietches, which were led by a Naib. Each sietch resides within one of the numerous rocky formations that dot the sands of Arrakis.
Most cryptic term, right? And first thing I can tell you is that one of the most famous Mentats is Duncan Idaho. The whole “process” is a profession or discipline that was developed as a replacement to the computers and thinking machines following the Butlerian Jihad. And you remember that one, right? After the events of this war, the creation of machines in the human mind’s image was banned.
Human computers (so, Mentats), are trained as replacements to the mechanical thinking technology, just as the all-female Bene Gesserit and the Guild of Navigators took up the same functions that had been previously covered by the Thinking Machines prior to the Jihad.
#16 MISSIONARIA PROTECTIVA
I think this is my absolute favorite term used in this book. The ring of it is so… Great. But the meaning is something else than you think. For Bene Gesserit it was the “black arm of superstition”. Its main “task” was to sow the seeds of superstition in primitive cultures, so then the Sisterhood could take advantage. Advantage of them, when those seeds grew to become legends…
So, not exactly an optimistic or noble term, right? Bene Gesserit used religion to spread superstition and thus opening these societies to abuse. For Arrakis and their Fremen it was a “promise” of Bene Gesserit son, who will lead them to freedom.
Lady Jessica and Paul used that myth to survive after the events on Arrakis and attack on House Atreides. Paul’s rise to power is one of my favorite subjects and themes in the series. It’s not about white savior, it’s about toxic leadership.
#17 TOXIC LEADERSHIP
While Dune shows that one of the most important qualities of a leader is to be a part of the team… I am more interested in the dangers of charismatic leaders. The ones you follow blindly into holy war. And I’ve been thinking about this and the only thing I can say: charismatic leaders should always come with a warning label.
And I can tell you that from experience! Charisma is so dangerous, so seductive. Frank Herbert said: I wrote the Dune series because I had this idea that charismatic leaders ought to come with a warning label on their forehead: „May be dangerous to your health.” One of the most dangerous presidents we had in this century was John Kennedy because people said „Yes Sir Mr. Charismatic Leader what do we do next?” and we wound up in Vietnam. And I think probably the most valuable president of this century was Richard Nixon. Because he taught us to distrust government and he did it by example.
Paul was thrown in the middle of a power struggle, with blurred vision. But he chose to be their leader, as he used the advantage spread by Bene Gesserit. That means that his leadership has religious grounds. His ability to see the future, gained him knowledge about how to win the battles ahead. And that resulted in endless, pure, unquestionable worship. When is that ever good?
Besides, he has seen ways to avoid jihad – like joining the Spacing Guild. Yet, he’s also seen that even his death will not prevent war, so… He chose the war, because it was his path to vengeance on House Harkonnen. Wouldn’t that mean that these “build” leaders… Are not trustworthy at all? More to come!
#18 LOVE (DUKE + LADY, PAUL + CHANI)
Among leadership, religion, politics and ecology, Dune is about love. Powerful, wonderful and deep love. When I was reading about Duke and Jessica’s relationship – love but without marriage… Marriage was considered to be very important, especially among Houses Major. Duke Leto loved his concubine so much! The softness, oh dear Lord, I cannot.
And even though the circumstances of how Leto and Jessica came to be were not so romantic, she went against the Bene Gesserit way. She was supposed to conceive a daughter. Jessica gave the Duke son he always wanted. Son, he loved more than anything. Having Paul changed Duke into a more domestic type. He wanted to make sure, he brings up the best in Paul.
Even though Jessica was conditioned by Bene Gesserit, I think she loved her Duke very deeply. And I think Paul felt that love too. With that quality, he could give the same (or even bigger) love to Chani Kynes. We are introduced to Chani as Paul’s dream girl. And even though their actual meeting was a “stand-off”, even though Paul knew Chani, he was a stranger to her.
But their love was so deep, so pure. Again, Chani wasn’t his legal wife (that was princess Irulan Corrino), but a concubine and the only partner. Rock, foundation and shield. And honestly, I cannot wait to see that chemistry, the undeniable emotions flowing like the spice on the big screen.
#19 CLIMATE AND THE “BEHIND THE SCENES”
Why “BTS”? Well, the power struggle is just one thing that we see. There is plenty going on in the background – the leadership we already talked about. But one more important subject Herbert touched upon is ecology. The shortage of water on Arrakis – making it almost impossible to survive. Environment and human culture are extremely visible in Herbert’s rich and compound world-building skills.
Dune also suggests that the relationship between environment and culture is “give-and-take” x – that is, human culture can also influence the environment. Herbert pays exceptional attention to the relationships between physical environments and human culture. Paul recognized the importance of Arrakis and its landscapes in benefitting human development. He integrated himself into Fremen culture, further developing his own physical and cognitive abilities.
But Herbert touched on the universal subject of humans and machines destroying the world (Arrakis) for their own profit (the Spice).
Last but not least, the vocabulary of Dune! It takes some time and patience to understand the true meaning of this novel. And (un)fortunately, Herbert was kind enough to create some new words for us to enjoy this spicy ride even more. Here are the ones you will find most useful:
- Abomination – term used by Bene Gesserit for one who acquires full consciousness in the womb as a result of being exposed to the spice agony
- Arrakeen – the first settlement on Arrakis; long-time seat of planetary government.
- Baliset – nine-stringed musical instrument, lineal descendant of the zithra, played by strumming. A favorite instrument of Imperial troubadours.
- CHOAM – a corporation which essentially controlled the economy of the Known Universe.
- Fedaykin – Fremen death commandos, personally trained by Paul Atreides.
- Gom Jabbar – Precise poison needle tipped with meta-cyanide used by the Bene Gesserit in their ‘death-alternative test of human awareness’.
- Ibad – “Lost ones”; originally a tribe of the Nilotic al-Ourouba. Later the term “eyes of Ibad” was used figuratively for the deep blue eyes of the Fremen or other spice addicts, caused by the spice-saturation of the addicts’ blood.
- Kanly – Official feud or vendetta under the rules of the Great Convention carried on according to the severest limitations.
- La, la, la – a Fremen cry of grief.
- Maker – Fremen term for the Sandworms.
- Stillsuit – body-enclosing clothing of Fremen. Its design accomplished the functions of heat dissipation and filtering bodily wastes, as well as retaining and retrieving moisture.
- Usul – a Fremen word meaning “the strength of the base of the pillar”.
- Weirding Way – Particular martial art component of Bene Gesserit prana-bindu practices.
- Wind trap – a facility used on Arrakis to trap moisture from the air, usually concealed in the warren rock.
A great man doesn’t seek to lead. He is called to it.
Next week I will be finally able to share my review of Dune – all of the emotions and moments that my heart skipped a beat. My only wish for you is to enjoy this movie. It has a great potential to change the cinema industry, sci-fi genre and the way we approach the movie-making process.
I am beyond excited to be a part of that movement, the hype. The spice will flow! I mean it is flowing already in some countries, which is something I won’t understand, but screw it. If it means that some of you got the chance to witness this movie – I am here for it.
I hope this two-part guide helped you just a bit to understand this complex world – then my job is done. And once again – I couldn’t be happier. Just imagine my hype and excitement and you should be set for your screening!