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Dune Explained (by Someone Who Has Never Read or Seen Any Version of It)

Timothée Chalamet in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune angst

The trailer for Dune came out yesterday, and the Internet went wild with articles explaining in minute detail every single frame and reference gleaned from those dense, dark, artsy three minutes. I, however, have never read Dune. I have never seen any adaptation of Dune. All I know about Dune is that there is something called “spice,” that it must flow, and that the old movie version involved Trey from Sex and The City and Sting in a weird floating blastic speedo thing.

So here’s my take on what’s going in Dune.

First off we meet Paul. We know his name is Paul because Zendaya says it in a dream. I cannot fault him for dreaming about Zendaya because who wouldn’t, honestly.

He’s what in fiction is called a “sad boy.” I’m not sure why he’s sad. He seems to have a nice life given that his dad rules a planet. But Timothée Chalamet always seems a bit sad so, I guess that’s where we’re at? Paul is having magic dreams maybe? I can’t tell if this stuff about him seeing the future is a metaphor or not. And some woman with a bead curtain on her face is making him put his hand in a pain box? So, yeah, I guess he’s got a few reasons to be sad.

Also, Oscar Isaac is (I think) his dad which shouldn’t be a reason to be sad because Oscar Isaac, but maybe Paul is depressed because he will never reach his father’s level of bearded, brooding, badassery. Sorry, Paul.

Paul lives on (or is visiting??) a very sad planet that is totally not Tatooine. Apparently it’s called Arachnid? Which is weird because their bug problem does not seem to be spiders. It’s not clear from this trailer why anyone would want to be on Not!Tatooine, but one of the few things I know about Dune is that there is something in that universe called “spice” and that is must flow. I think that’s the sparkly stuff in the sand? So … magic space glitter?

zendaya looks sad in dune

I think Zendaya lives on space Arizona, and she and Paul have to do … something? There are lots of people that look very cool and angry, but it’s not clear why. Aquaman is there. So is Drax the Destroyer and Thanos (but not purple!) There’s a lot of stuff going on here and I think that someone wants to kill Paul or his family, probably the people from the planet they seem to be brutally exploiting? But he’s gonna fall in love with one of them because … that’s how these things go.

And also there is this thing:sandworm from dune

The giant space sphincter is apparently a sandworm, and I’ll admit to doing a little bit of research on this, on accident, and this piece from Atom tickets tells me that: “The giant, nigh-indestructible creatures with their tripartite mouths lined with razor-sharp teeth appear to guard the melange, which is actually a waste product of the worms.”

So apparently the planet is called “Arrakis” and everyone is on it because they are fighting over … magic worm poop? The magic glitter is poop? Or dead skin??? Still gross! I know a lot of you guys and gals are really into this but … um… “Sad boy fights many people over worm refuse” is not the first pitch I’d go with for a major blockbuster. But what do I know? I mean, obviously nothing which is the point of this.

Okay. Well. It still looks cool!

(images: Warner Brothers)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.