Important Shots from The DUNE Trailer Explained
By: Domonique Cox-Salberg
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune trailer has dropped today, and its beautifully dark, cerebral, and intriguing. In the course of a few minutes, the footage revealed bleak sweeping worlds and bewildering gorgeous landscapes, a behemoth worm, a snippet of romance, and tons of characters. Leading the sci-fi drama, Timothee Chalamet is Paul Atreides, the heart of the story. Within his noble family House Atreides, Paul is the last Duke of the Atreides Empire.
Requested by The Emperor, Paul moves with his family to Arrakis, a grim desert planet, known as Dune, pushing the Atreides from the Caladan and into a new home. From there, Paul must tread a perilous path. Each of the Atreides must. So, having read Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel or not, I think we can all agree it is a lot to take in. We shall see if Denis Villeneuve can breathe new life into the complex story and give familiar audiences much more to appreciate and new fans, a memorable sci-fi adventure.
Now here are the critical shots from the trailer and what they mean.
Standing in bright light, we see the dust swirls around the lead Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), in what is most likely the notorious spice, the addictive substance Arrakis is known for producing. It turns out to be his dream.
“There’s something awakening in my mind. I can’t control it.”
This shot has Paul with Chani Kynes (Zendaya) who appears in his prescient visions prior to his arrival on Arrakis. Both are wearing stillsuits; they kiss.
This shot of Paul in his bed and the home planet of Caladan is important because of the headboard, which features fish in motion. A symbol for the planet Caladan that is full of water. More lush compared to where he is headed.
“There’s a crusade coming.”
Foreshadowing a possible conflict to come, the young Atreides sees a future of fire and smoke for Arrakis. He stands with a woman that could be Chani or Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) at a siege.
Back on Caladan, before Atreides depart their home, ominous Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) questions Paul to make sure he is human. Asking specifically about his dreams and administering the gom jabbar test (a meta-cyanide poisoned needle that sat upon a thimble)
Here we get a look at the personal shields, a.k.a Holtzman shields, and see how they work in combat. As a personal protective energy field, it’s easily activated. Training with Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), they both have their shields activated, and when it turns red (3rd pic), it indicates a hit. Within these brief scenes, Paul’s swiftness and fighting capability are illustrated.
Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atreides, saying goodbye to Caladan (Oscar Isaac.) He is an influential figure among the Dune world where he rules an entire planet; however, he is losing it.
Here is an exterior shot of Castle Caladen and an interior shot showing servants packing up. Both show the contrast between Caladen and how it exudes comfort, compared to the unknown and unwelcoming Arrakis.
Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is Paul’s mother, a Bene Gesserit, and Duke Leto’s Concubine. She looks worried as she prepares to leave Caladan. Additionally, she is suspicious of House Harkonnen letting go of the spice rich planet and letting House Atreides come without any repercussions.
Duke Leto Atreides appears in full armor as he, Jessica, and other household women arrive on Arrakis. Then, standing on the sand, we see guide transport ships and troops.
We are introduced to a happy Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) as Paul and Gurney walk towards him. Duncan is an expert fighter and another one of Paul’s teachers. Beating Paul and his crew to Arrakis, he went ahead to ally with the Fremen.
This is Stilgar (Javier Bardem), a respected Fremen leader and an inhabitant of Arrakis desert. You may notice he has striking blue eyes, which are the Eyes of Ibad—caused by spice consumption. All Fremen eyes look like this.
“Arrakis is a death trap.”
In this menacing shot, we see a massive number of Sardaukar, the Padishah Emperor’s elite military force. Being that this army is on Arrakis is not a good look for Paul and his people.
Along with the Sardaukar threat, the primary opposition to House Atreides: House Harkonnen. Played by Dave Bautista, we see Glossu Rabban Harkonnen, a.k.a. The Beast. The oldest nephew of Baron Harkonnen is described as sadistic and terrifying. Baron is in the shot below, played by Stellan Skarsgård; he is cunning, manipulative, and excellent at staying one step ahead of his enemy.
These burning palm trees outside the Atreides call home in Arrakeen, confirm they are not safe. Paul utters, “This is an extermination.”
The Sardaukar crash the party, and as we hear Paul say, “They’re picking my family off one by one.” Shots of Duncan fighting display his superior combat skills, and a flashback of Paul is shown with Reverend Mother giving Paul the gom jabbar test. She says a vague statement that is up for interpretation about an animal caught in a trap will gnaw off its own leg to escape.
Footage shifts back to Arrakis, and we witness Paul’s first in-person meeting with Chani. Unlike Chani, he has seen the Freman woman in his dreams before, so he is not startled when he recognizes her.
Explosions ensue, and its never more evident than now the trouble the Atreides face.
Duncan Idaho and Paul salute one another. Paul’s knife appears to be a crysknife, a weapon used for an important duel.
One of the many perils Arrakis has to deal with is the sandworm. They pose the threat of death and make traveling on foot to harvest spice a challenge since the worms reside in the desert. In this shot, Paul and Gurney look on while the sandworm devours a spice harvester whole.
Dr. Yueh, who happens to be Duke Leto’s doctor, is now walking along with his enemy Harkonnen’s troops.
Now introduced is Dr. Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster). She is the planet’s Imperial ecologist and also a Freman leader.
Rabban appears again, only this time leading Harkonnen troops, signaling an increasing threat for the Atreides. We see Leto and Paul in the next few photos with blood, Paul in a duel using the crysknife, and another with his mother appearing to be hastily fleeing in pilot ornithoper from something to somewhere else.
Here is a close-up of Paul picking up the valued spice from the desert planet of Arrakis.
During this shot, we hear Paul say, “Fear is the mind-killer” as Duncan Idaho kneels in front of Paul and says, “My lord Duke.” Probably the most quoted Dune passage, what Paul recites is from the Bene Gessert Litany Against Fear.
The big finale shot—a behemoth sandworm. With its mouth agape, ready to consume whatever in its way, it looms over Paul and Jessica.
So, there it is, the newest Dune trailer shot breakdown. Paul and the Atreides are in store for a horrible ride and hopefully an epic bounce back.
All Images: Warner Bros./Legendary