Minimum Vocabulary of Dune The Post

Minimum Vocabulary of “Dune” The Post

What is the Bene Gesserit, the Kwisatz Haderach, and what other words and concepts should you keep in mind before watching part two?

Dune – Part 2, the film by Canadian Dennis Villeneuve that follows the film released in 2021, will be in cinemas on Wednesday, February 28th. It is the second of three parts of an ambitious and so far much appreciated film adaptation of the famous 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, considered one of the masterpieces of science fiction literature, read and loved by different generations and which was followed by several other titles .

Throughout the thousands of pages of the Dune cycle, Herbert created a complex universe full of characters, concepts, organisms, historical events, and various planets, developing an epic that drew strong inspiration from Arab and Muslim culture, ecological ideas, and Oriental philosophies and from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Cycle, among others. Dune is a world where politics are complicated, science is deep, and gender dynamics are complex. In the film there is only a small part of this world, but in any case there are many words, names, characters and concepts that you need to know to understand the plot. Some are as follows.

Arrakis: It is the planet on which the film takes place, completely deserted, and the only one where the precious “Spice”, the psychedelic substance that enables interstellar travel in the Dune universe (see next entry), is found. Arrakis is slightly smaller than Earth, for comparison: it is the third planet orbiting the star Canopus (which really exists, 312.7 light-years from us) and has an incandescent surface. The native population is the Fremen (see next entry), but the planet was subsequently colonized by the Galactic Empire, which entrusted its administration to the Harkonnen (see next entry), who despotically exploited its population and resources. Huge and very dangerous sandworms also live on Arrakis. One of its two moons, Krlln, has a huge crater in the shape of a mouse, which the Fremen associate with the figure of Muad'Dib (see next entry).

Atreides: It is the main house of the film, one of the ten houses that make up the assembly of the Galactic Empire known as the Landsraad. The patriarch at the time of the events in the film is Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), whose official concubine is Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Leto is the cousin of Emperor Shaddam IV and is beloved throughout the galaxy for his charisma and righteousness. For this reason, his house is feared by the others. The family's eldest son is Paul (Timothée Chalamet).

Bene Gesserit: It is a religious and political community that exerts enormous influence over the Galactic Empire and dominates it in many ways. It is a sisterhood whose members, after long and rigorous training, develop paranormal powers of various kinds, including the ability to control people by modulating the tone of their voices. They are led by a Reverend Mother (Charlotte Rampling), who has the ability to trace her lineage to learn more about the memories and experiences of all the women in her family. The Bene Gesserit plan, manipulate, ally, pretend to ally, betray, all with the goal of selecting a superior human, the Kwisatz Haderach (see next entry). Lady Jessica is a member of the Sisterhood and is destined to have a daughter with Duke Leto Atreides and then marry her to the Harkonnen heir in order to pacify the two houses and found the Kwisatz Haderach. However, she rebels out of love for Leto and conceives a son with him, which ruins the Bene Gesserit's plans and enrages its members.

Minimum Vocabulary of Dune The Post

The Reverend Mother and Paul Atreides in “Dune – Part 1”.

Cryss: It's the typical Fremen weapon, a dagger made from the tooth of a sandworm.

sand dunes: It is the other name of Arrakis, and it has always raised a question here: is it pronounced dune or diun? There's no real right answer, but fans of Frank Herbert's novel usually pronounce it the Italian way. However, English diction is widespread and probably the most common at present. But everyone is free.

Fremen: They are the people who had been living in Arrakis for many millennia at the time of the events of the film, originally arriving after an interplanetary diaspora. Constant contact with the spice has turned their eyes bright blue, and in general they have a very close relationship with both the melange and the worms, which they can avoid and even ride. They are phenomenal fighters, the only ones able to move in the desert of Arrakis thanks to their special stillsuits, and bitter enemies of the Imperial colonizers.

Space Guild: It is the organization that manages transportation between the various solar systems of the galaxy in which Dune is set. His spaceships are able to make these journeys thanks to special navigators who, by taking the spice, develop a kind of foresight and thus manage to plan safe routes. Without the spice, it is impossible to control these spaceships at the required speed, faster than the speed of light. The guild is theoretically neutral and the Emperor exercises some control over it by managing the spice harvest. But it remains a very powerful entity that also manages the galaxy's banking system and is also the only system that can move soldiers from one solar system to another.

Butlerian Jihad: It involves a pivotal event in the history of the Dune universe that took place thousands of years before the events of the film, in which humans essentially successfully rebelled against thinking machines.

Harkonnen: It is the enemy House of Atreides, due to a fierce feud that began during the Butlerian Jihad. In the times in which the film is set, they are ugly and evil and are taking care of the collection of the spice on Arrakis when the Emperor decides to give it to the Atreides: not out of any goodwill towards them, but in the hope of winning them over to weaken war that would inevitably break out. The patriarch is Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), who runs the house along with his nephews Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) and Rabban (Dave Bautista).

Minimum Vocabulary of Dune The Post

Baron Vladimir Harkkonen in Dune – Part 1.

Kwisatz Haderach: He is the Messiah whom the Bene Gesserit wish to genetically select in order to create a sort of male alter ego for the Reverend Mother, capable of both foresight and access to the memories of all of his ancestors, male and female. His titles are “The One Who Shortens the Way” and “The One Who Can Be in Many Places”, alluding to the unique psychic abilities he is said to have.

Mentat: They are humans trained to become a kind of living computer, and they are the entities with which it was decided to replace artificial intelligences after the Butler Jihad. They are able to analyze vast amounts of data to form hypotheses and theories that are inaccessible to ordinary people but still retain human emotion and fallibility. One of them is Thufir Hawat, a loyal ally of Duke Leto and one of Paul's teachers.

Muad'Dib: It is the name the Fremen associate with the mouse-shaped crater on the moon Krlln and a mythological figure capable of surviving in the desert of Arrakis.

Sardaukar: It is the Imperial troops who secretly intervene in the war on the Harkonnen side at the end of the first film.

Shai Hulud: This is the name given by the Fremen to the sandworms, which can grow up to 400 meters long and have a huge mouth full of sharp teeth and are virtually impossible to kill. They move underground and are attracted to the regular vibration of the ground, which is why the Fremen learned to walk with irregular gaits. They do not have to eat humans, but they are extremely aggressive and very dangerous to humans. The Fremen revere them and have learned to dress them and ride them when necessary. It is their larvae that produce the spice.

In the Face of the Sandworm |  DUNES 2021

Spice up: More formally known as “melange,” it is essentially a narcotic substance, a waste product of the life cycle of sandworms in the larval stage. The Fremen harvest it by hand, the Harkonnen with huge harvesters that also attract the worms, making the operation very dangerous. Those who become addicted to the spice develop the typical blue color in their eyes, but regular use brings with it a whole range of benefits: it extends life by hundreds of years and gives some people powers of foresight. The Bene Gesserit and the Fremen have a special initiation rite that consists of ingesting a certain amount of “spice essence”, a derivative of the spice, but which is poisonous. Those who ingest it, which in the Bene Gesserit are those destined to become Reverend Mother, must alter their metabolism to render the substance non-toxic and survive.

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