Dune (1984)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Based on Frank Herbert’s first novel in the classic book series and directed by David Lynch, Dune is the epic story of Paul Atreides journey from simple boy to leader of a desperate resistance. Dune takes place on the desert planet of Arrakis, the only known source of the most important substance in galaxy, mélange or spice. Paul battles the corrupt Emperor Shaddam and the evil forces of House Harkonnen over control of the spice. Along the way, Paul discovers that he may have a much grander destiny.

‘Dune’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Dune (1984)In the future, the Dune universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (José Ferrer), and the most important substance in the galaxy is a drug known as mélange or spice. Spice can extend life and expand consciousness. The most important use for spice is to allow the Spacing Guild to fold space, which allows ships to safely travel from one side of the universe to the other.

The Guild has sent an emissary to meet with the Emperor due to the Guild’s fear of a war that could jeopardize spice production. The Emperor explains that he is placing the spice production rights into the hands of House Atreides and the popular Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow). The Emperor is concerned that the Duke’s popularity will soon overtake his own, and fears the Duke is amassing a secret army. Fearful that House Atreides will overthrow him, the Emperor has conspired with House Harkonnen to destroy the Atreides rule. The Guild emissary approves of the Emperor’s devious plan but insists that the Duke’s son Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) must be killed as well.

The request to kill Paul draws the attention of a Bene Gesserit priestess who was eavesdropping on the conversation. The Bene Gesserit sisterhood has been involved in a centuries long breeding program to produce a super being known as the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul is a product of the program, although Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica (Francesca Annis), who was a member of the sisterhood, was ordered to only produce girls. Nevertheless, the sisterhood wishes to test Paul abilities and sends Reverend Mother Mohiam (Siân Phillips) to conduct the test. The test could be lethal to anyone who fails, but to the Reverend Mother’s surprise, Paul passes.

Meanwhile, on Giedi Prime, the home planet of House Harkonnen, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan) tells his two lethal nephews Glossu “Beast” Rabban (Paul Smith) and Feyd-Rautha (Sting) about his plan to destroy the Atreides family by using someone from within the House Atreides who will betray the Duke.

Duke Atreides and his family leave their home world of Caladan for Arrakis. Arrakis is a desert planet where there is never any rain and is populated by gigantic sandworms. Arrakis is also called Dune. Dune has a human population called the Fremen. The Fremen are a mysterious people who believe in a prophecy that says a messiah will lead them to freedom. When the Duke lands on Arrakis, he meets with his lead soldier, Duncan Idaho (Richard Jordan), who was dispatched to Dune early to prepare for the Duke’s arrival. Duncan informs Duke Leto that the Fremen are numerous and could be powerful allies for them in a conflict with the Harkonnens.

Duke Leto works to build an alliance with the desert dwellers, but before he can accomplish it, the Harkonnens launch their attack. The Harkonnens’ traitor within House Atreides is Dr. Wellington Yueh (Dean Stockwell), Leto’s personal physician. Yueh disables the defensive shields around the compound and sonic weapons the soldiers use for defense. This allows Harkonnen forces to catch House Atreides nearly defenseless. Yueh also incapacitates Leto and places a hollow tooth into the Duke’s mouth which will allow the Duke to get close enough to the Baron to kill him with poison gas from his tooth. Yueh apologizes for his betrayal and swears that he will protect Lady Jessica and Paul. Yueh’s purpose for his betrayal is to kill Baron Harkonnen, the man who killed Yueh’s wife.

Duncan is killed in the attack, and Leto is captured. Nearly all of House Atreides is wiped out. Lady Jessica and Paul are bound and sent out to the deep desert to be left for dead, so their bodies will never be found. However, they escape their captives and with the assistance of Yueh, they are able to survive the desert with survival suits. The Baron has Yueh killed, and Leto is killed in the failed assassination attempt on Baron Harkonnen.

While seeking shelter in the desert, Lady Jessica and Paul encounter a large group of Fremen, known as a sietch. Lady Jessica and Paul agree to teach the sietch the Weirding Way of fighting in exchange for shelter within the sietch. Lady Jessica becomes the spiritual leader of Fremen when she drinks the water of life, which gives both her and her unborn daughter special abilities. Paul takes the Fremen name Muad’Dib and eventually emerges as the leader of the Fremen, possibly the one that has been prophesized. He teaches the Fremen to build and use the sonic weapons that House Atreides once used. Paul learns to ride the giant sandworms, and leads the Fremen in a fight to stop all spice production on the planet.

Paul’s campaign against the Harkonnens, the Emperor, and the Guild goes on for a couple of years. Desperate for spice, the Guild warns the Emperor that he needs to stop the deteriorating situation on Arrakis. The Guild is also fearful that Paul may drink the water of life himself, something no male has ever survived. Paul is aware of the Guild’s fears due to his prophetic dreams, something he has had his entire life. However, when his dreams suddenly stop, Paul believes he has no choice but to drink from the water of life. He goes out into the desert and drinks, going into a deep trance. When he awakens, he gains psychic powers and the ability to control the sandworms.

Paul’s ability allows him to see the huge invasion fleet that the Emperor is amassing above Arrakis. The fleet has one purpose, to wipe out the Fremen resistance and regain control of spice production on the planet. When the Emperor lands on the planet himself, Paul leads a final attack against both the Emperor’s forces and the Harkonnens. Riding sandworms and using their Weirding weapons, Paul’s forces easily defeat the off-worlders. Paul’s young sister Alia (Alicia Witt) allows herself to be captured so that she can kill the Baron herself.

After defeating the Emperor and his allies, Paul attempts to dictate his terms to the defeated. He is challenged to a duel in hand to hand combat by Feyd-Rautha. Paul kills the Harkonnen with ease, ceasing any further resistance. Paul demonstrates his new powers and fulfills the Fremen prophecy by causing rain to fall on the Dune, something that has never happened before. Alia’s declares him to be the Kwisatz Haderach.

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Universal Pictures released Dune on December 14, 1984. David Lynch directed the film starring Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, and Francesca Annis.

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