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The Sleeper has Awakened: The Dune Trailer Breakdown


The trailer for director's Denis Villeneuve adaptation dropped recently, and I've spent the last couple of days rewatching it, and now I'm ready to break it down and take a look at it. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to my readers (all five of you) that Dune is one of my favorite books. My introduction to this fantastic universe is going to differ from most people's. I was exposed to this in sixth grade when the mini-series Frank Herbert's Dune aired on the Sci-Fi channel back in 2000. I distinctly remember watching it with my dad and being so enthralled that I wanted to go read the book right away. My dad wanted me to wait a couple of years, so I'd be better able to understand the book. So, I read it two years later when I was in eighth grade, and like The Lord of the Rings, it's one of the books that has always stayed with me. This is the third attempt at bringing Dune to the screen, the first being the infamous Lynch version from 1984; which was panned upon release but has gained a cult following over the years. I happen to quite like the extended edition, despite its flaws. The second attempt was the mini-series I already mentioned. The mini-series was well received enough that it got a sequel, Children of Dune, which adapted the next two books in the Dune Saga, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, respectively. It even starred a young Professor X (James McAvoy) as Leto II. But that's enough rambling from me, let's get to the trailer.

We start with Paul (Timothee Chalamet) giving a voice over while he has a vision/dream of Chani (Zendaya) calling his name, he wakes up. Cut to a brief shot of Paul and someone else (their back is turned and we can't see them) overlooking what seems to be a burning city. Next, we jump to the famous scene of Paul talking to the Bene Gesserit mother and facing the Gom Jabbar test. The pain box is green, like in the Lynch film. Paul screams in agony. Cut to a brief shot of Caladan (the Atreides home planet) before we get a few seconds of Paul training in knife combat with Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), the Atreides weapon master. A few more shots of Caladan and then we get out first look at Paul's Father, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and Mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). We see the Atreides family and their attendants land on the desert planet Arrakis while a cover of Pink Floyd's Eclipse starts to play. Next, we get a shot of the Atreides sword master Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) running up to give Paul a big hug, next to Paul is Gurney. Behind them is several men. We don't get a good look at them, but one is wearing different clothing from the rest and has stained lips, so I'm pretty certain that's supposed to be Thufir Hawat, the Mentat (human computer) that serves House Atreides.

Quick cut to Stilgar (Javier Bardem) taking his mask off. A voiceover says "Arrakis is a death trap" as we cut to legions of soldier being overseen by the beast Raban (Dave Bautista), the violent (and fairly stupid) nephew of Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard). He's wearing dark armour and his skin is completely pale. There appears to be a burn scar on the top of his bald head. Speaking of Baron Harkonnen, we get a very brief glimpse of him in the shadows. He says, "I'll kill him." Presumably he's referring to Duke Leto. Then we see a bunch of fires, another shot of Jessica and Paul, and our first look at Dr. Yueh (Chang Chen). Another group of soldiers lands, ready to face the Atreides. I'm almost positive these are the Emperor's Sardaukar (Space Marines on cocaine). Several of them rush at Duncan Idaho, and he cuts all of them down. Again, we see Chani. The music picks up and we get a bunch of quick cuts.

  • Ships flying

  • An explosion in front of Gurney Halleck (presumably from the Harkonnen attack)

  • The Baron coming out of a bath.

  • Jessica looking worried.

  • Duncan saluting.

  • Paul saluting.

  • Paul and Gurney escaping on an ornithopter as a spice production hauler is swallowed by a sandworm (we only partially see the worm).

  • Dr. Yueh being escorted by soldiers and looking pretty guilty.

  • Brief shot of Dr. Liet-Kynes, although I wouldn't be surprised if some people don't realize who that is. In the books he's the father of Chani. In the film the character is a woman, so I assume it's now Chani's dad who will be Fremen. That said, Liet-Kynes is a minor character and I don't think it's a big deal.

  • Ornithopters!

  • Raban leading Harkonnen soldiers.

  • Duke Leto holding someone as they die (we don't see who)

  • Paul says "The future. I can see it."

  • Stilgar!

  • Paul holds a knife to a Fremen's throat.

  • What looks like a sandstorm, but the clip is so quick I'm honestly not sure what it is.

  • Duncan Idaho looking badass.

  • Chani.

  • Paul yelling.

  • Paul piloting a ship.

  • Paul picking up sand.

  • Duncan kneeling in front of Paul and saying, "My lord Duke."

  • Paul in a stillsuit.

  • Sand moving!

  • Paul and Jessica being chased by a sandworm.

  • The Sandworm in all its glory!

  • DUNE.

A handful of thoughts: This is an absolutely fantastic cast. This looks to share some visuals with the Lynch film and I'm okay with that. For all its flaws, I always felt the Lynch film got the look of the Dune right. They got the sandworms right. And finally, I can't help but notice that Duncan Idaho kneels to Paul and calls him "My Lord Duke." This is interesting, because Paul only becomes Duke when Leto dies. In the book Duncan dies in the Harkonnen attack, so if this scene takes place after that (and I suspect it does), then that would mean Duncan either doesn't die in the film, or he dies late. My theory is that Gurney Halleck is going to die instead, and Duncan will take on his role. Now WHY they would make that change I have no idea. But in all fairness, I'm only speculating. So, what do you guys think? Are you excited? I am, and my Dad is at least cautiously optimistic. Sound off, after all, the spice must flow.

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