Beginner’s Guide to Dune: What You Need to Know Before Watching the Movie

Dune is one of the most anticipated films of 2021. Actually, it’s held that title for the past few years since its release date has been pushed back so many times. Excitement has been building for Denis Villeneuve’s film with each delay but, fingers crossed, it looks like we will finally see the sci-fi epic October 22 of this year.

Frank Herbert’s 1965 story tells of the gifted and suspected “chosen one,” Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet), and his family of House Atreides. They travel to Arrakis to oversee the mining of spice and “[a]s malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their own fear will survive.” Epic landscapes, unique battles, and themes on technology, emotions, and so much more are expected.

There’s still a while to wait until October 22, but there’s no reason to idly wait. Instead, you can use this extra time to brush up on your Dune knowledge — because there’s a lot you should know to get the best viewing experience. These are things Dune newbies (and even those who haven’t read the novels in a while) should know before watching the movie.


The Dune Books and Franchise Legacy

The first thing you should know about Dune is that Herbert’s novel is a big deal. I’m not just talking about being popular to a fringe community. Its legacy spans across the geekish and bookish worlds, with approval from the literary crowd and the genre-fiction lovers alike. Basically, it’s been wildly popular and critically acclaimed for most of its history.


The World of Dune

Most sci-fi movies require a little bit of imagination and exposition to understand them. Dune is the same, except there’s more — so much more — of the latter that’s needed to understand its world. Here a few key things to know to understand it’s world.

Time Period

Watching the film, don’t expect to see a story set a few hundred years from now. Dune is set a whopping 20,000 years in the future. It’s an era vastly different than ours, where humans have already settled and colonized many planets throughout the universe.

Technology and Weaponry

What kind of world would you picture so far into the future? If you thought high-tech machinery and advanced weaponry, you thought wrong. Kind of. See, 10,000 years before Dune begins, humans created thinking machines, but it didn’t result in a better world. Instead, these thinking machines became too powerful and war between humans and sentient machines broke out. The war lasted for two generations and left a great hatred for advanced computers.

Now, thinking machines are banned. Enemies often fight in hand-to-hand combat but also use laser beams, force fields, and other technology so long as it isn’t too similar to sentient machines.

Ruling Class

For those still missing Game of Thrones, specifically the feuding houses, Dune‘s ruling classes will be your next fix. Like House Lannister and House Stark, Dune features two rival houses: House Harkonnen and House Atreides. The quick version is that House Harkonnen, the former Great House, are the bad guys and both houses are really after one thing. That’s spice . . .


Words You Need to Know:

Spice

If there’s one thing most people do know about Dune, it’s spice. Spice melange, also referred to as the spice, is a highly valuable and rare drug. It’s the most sought after substance in the Dune universe.

So, what does the substance do? I’ll let the novel explain: “The spice extends life, the spice expands consciousness. The spice is vital to space travel.” The narcotic is only found on the planet Arrakis (the desert planet you’ve seen in the trailers with those huge sandworms). Consuming spice lengthens your lifespan, allows you to see into the future, and affects your mind. It’s also addictive, and those who do become reliant on the drug have blue eyes.

Bene Gesserit and Kwisatz Haderach

Half religion, half espionage, and all-female fronted, the Bene Gesserit are wickedly cool ladies. They’re trained at special schools, and their education grants them unique abilities. This includes the ability to control every single part of their body, even their metabolism which they can use against poison. They’re also equally trained physically and mentally: They’re exceptional in martial arts and can detect lies from those who would deceive them.

These powerful women use their strengths for political gain, but most importantly, their religion foresees and seeks one thing: the chosen one, the Kwisatz Haderach. He is “one who can be many places at once,” and who can see far into the future to help mankind stay on “The Golden Path.”

Fremen

The Fremen are humans that live peacefully on Arrakis, a planet of extreme conditions and gigantic sandworms. Over time, they developed the signature blue eyes that come with constant spice exposure.

Mentat

The war between thinking machines and humans resulted in the ban of advanced computers, but each Great House still wanted the benefits that had come with such high technology. Mentats were a way around this ban. These people are exceptional in calculation, logic, and military strategy.

The Imperium

The Galactic Padishah Empire, also known as the Imperium, refers to the governance of the entire known universe. For thousands of years it was ruled by House Corrino who adopted the title of Padishah Emperor.

Sardaukar

The emperor’s elite military force is known for their ruthless tactics, extraordinary fighting skills, and devout loyalty to House Corrino. They are feared throughout the known universe.


If you have seen Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel at a bookstore, you know this isn’t your average book. It’s a hefty story, both in terms of length and meaning. It’s no wonder it is often referred to as one of the best sci-fi books of all time. Seriously. Numerous iterations have been put out; Herbert’s story includes 14 books, written by himself or his son, not to mention the 1984 film and two television series.

Dune is the space opera you want to read for an epic intergalactic journey. As you can see, people don’t like Dune. They’re crazy for it. So what are you looking forward to most about the 2021 Dune? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!