The official trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has been released, and we can actually see what is going on! While this trailer is longer than most top-40 songs, I enjoyed it. While the previous teaser leaned on the artistic imagery, this one was more plot-driven, allowing us to see hints of the character relationships and the central conflict that takes up the first novel.
As a book reader and someone who genuinely does love Dune, I was impressed with the trailer because I felt like it gave a lot of what mainstream audiences are looking for—without completely spoiling the story.
We see Paul is having dreams of a woman on Arrakis (also known as Dune), which ends up being the planet his family is sent to “bring peace to” by the Emperor. That brings them into conflict with the Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, and their longtime political rivals, the Harkonnens.
Here are some of the exciting things that stood out to me, without any book spoilers:
 Environmental Politics Front and Center:
I really enjoyed that the trailer opens with Chani discussing the destruction of her planet by colonizing/imperialistic forces. At the forefront of Frank Herbert’s Dune series is a lot of political conversation about empire, ecology, and the harm we do in the name of good. The novel is deeply political, so I like that it doesn’t shy away from putting the language and imagery of conquest and dislocation at the very start of the narrative.
 Bond Between Duncan & Paul Highlighted:
One of the most important relationships in the Dune saga is that between Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) and Paul. Duncan is swordmaster in the service of House Atreides and one of Paul’s mentors. Without going too much into it, Duncan will become one of the most important players in Dune, and that is tied to the affection, loyalty, and love he has for Paul/House Atreides. So, seeing Momoa and Timothée Chalamet’s Paul have some soft banter was charming and great. Also, Jason Momoa looks great in the role.
 Baron Harkonnen Looks Intimidating:
One of the aspects of the 1984 Dune that is very meh for me is how they depict Baron Harkonnen. There are already some fatphobic issues with how Harkonnen’s vile aspects are tied to his weight, but he is still an intimidating, powerful figure. The ’84 version makes him seem more comical than intimidating, but the little we see of Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen here brings the epicness back to that character. I’m excited to see more of him.
 Foreshadowing About Paul’s Eventual Fate:
“Dad, what if I’m not the future of House Atreides?” Paul asks his father, the deliciously salt and peppered Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto I. I love this scene because the reality is that Paul is a baby. Timothée Chalamet’s casting as Paul has been memed because of his popularity, but I think he sells looking like a 16-year-old boy who is about to be flung into greatness and will be greatly unprepared. For book readers, this line certainly hints a lot about Paul’s fate and what the future of House Atreides will be like, with a giant sandworm hovering over them during part of the voiceover. I see you.
 Trailer Doesn’t Actually Give Everything Away:
Despite the length, the trailer doesn’t give away much besides the central conflict at the beginning of the novel. Since this film is technically Dune: Part One, there is a lot this movie will do, but it can take its time. The ’84 movie had to stuff a lot into one film. Without those constraints, I’m interested in how Villeneuve will balance out the story from the first book with the rest of the series. One of the hardest things about making Dune in a world where Star Wars has dominated the space opera epic is that it can be hard for Dune (which is older than Star Wars) to stand out visually. What makes the book series so good are the themes.
With two movies to tell this story, I’m looking for it to lean into the themes, since that is the heart of Dune.
Dune will be theatrically released on October 22, 2021 by Warner Bros. Pictures, with a simultaneous release on the HBO Max streaming service for 31 days. I will be seeing it in theaters.
(image: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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