Dune 2’s First 10 Minutes Restores a Classic Scene From The Book — With a Twist
Which character’s narration opens Dune?
When Dune: Part One hit in 2021, fans immediately noticed one change from both the original 1965 novel and the 1984 feature film. Instead of an opening narration from Princess Irulan, Dune: Part One began with a voiceover from Chani (Zendaya). This inversion smartly centered the story of Dune: Part One from the perspective of the Fremen, at least partially. And now, with Dune: Part Two hitting in 2024, the opening of the film will honor the opening of the original book. But this time, the content of the narration will be decidedly different.
Minor spoilers ahead for the first 10 minutes of Dune: Part Two.
At CCXP 2023 in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 3, 2023, during a Dune: Part Two panel, audiences were treated to several preview scenes, including the first 10 minutes of the movie. Back in 2021, the first 10 minutes of Part One were also teased in special screenings, so this kind of preview seems to now be a tradition ahead of the launch of a new Dune movie.
Dune 2’s first 10 minutes, revealed
So what’s actually in this footage? Well, interestingly, like the novel itself, we start with a narration from Princess Irulan. According to DuneNews.Net, here’s how this all goes:
“The movie starts on Kaitain [with the scene glimpsed in the first official trailer], where Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) is narrating into her dictation device. She covers the destruction of House Atreides and ponders secrets that still surround those fateful events.
Later, we see the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Christopher Walken) himself in a garden, playing chess with his daughter [as seen in the second official trailer]. The Princess remarks that her father hasn’t said anything in a while. Irulan appears to be frustrated with the Emperor’s passivity, and contemplates how House Harkonnen may be behind this.”
After this scene, the action switches back to Arrakis with Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) and Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista). But let's linger on this cold open on the planet Kaitain. In a sense, what director Denis Villeneuve is doing is not only expediting the narrative of this part of the story but also honoring Frank Herbert and David Lynch at the same time.
Princess Irulan's opening narration explained
At this point in the Dune timeline, we’re roughly halfway through the first book. So, having Princess Irulan explain the events of the first movie — from the perspective of the ruling aristocracy on Kaitain — makes sense. If you haven’t read the books, or seen any previous movies, this is simply a great way of getting everyone back on board with the plot, while also introducing two very important players to the Dune saga, Irulan and her father, the Emperor.
However, for fans of the book, the future-tense destiny of Irulan is not-so-subtly hinted at here. The first lines of Dune are in the form of an epigraph from a history book written by Princess Irulan, which chronicles the story of Dune after the fact. Herbert does this throughout the six original Dune books; peppering each with information from narratives that tell the history of the quasi-present tense of what you’re reading. Irulan is, of course, an actual character in the present tense of the first novel too, albeit a minor one. By the end of Dune, Irulan and Paul begin a political marriage of convenience, while in Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, Irulan plays a much, much bigger role.
In David Lynch’s 1984 movie version of Dune, Virginia Madsen’s Irulan also opened the film with an opening narration that borrowed from aspects of the book, too. This famous monologue, which starts with the words, “A beginning is a very delicate time,” and, essentially, is one of the most elegant and effective infodumps of all time. Although Madsen’s Irulan doesn’t play a big role in the 1984 movie, having Pugh’s version of the character open a new Dune film feels like an intentional reference to Lynch, as much as Herbert.
On top of all of this, Denis Villeneuve is also adding something to the Dune mythos here, while also not violating book canon at all. While it’s true we read many of Irulan’s quotes throughout Dune, we never actually see her creating the notes for these books.
Florence Pugh’s new opening narration for Dune: Part Two is the best of all worlds. A nostalgic call-back to 1984, but also a clever way of making sure both these Dune movies sort out the continuity of the original 1965 novel. And, best of all, if Denis Villeneuve does ever get to make a third film based on the novel Dune Messiah, then the pivotal role of Irulan has already been firmly established right here.