Dune will end abruptly.
It’s no longer a secret that director Denis Villeneuve will not complete the story of Frank Herbert’s first Dune novel in his upcoming blockbuster take on the material. Instead, Villeneuve and his cast members have repeatedly confirmed that the new film is only the first part of a two-part epic.
That’s right: though Dune: Part Two is not yet confirmed, Dune: Part One leaves the journey of Paul Atreides unfinished.
Now that the first Dune has officially debuted at the Venice Film Festival, we know exactly where it ends relative to the book. Spoilers ahead for Herbert’s novel. Light spoilers follow for Dune: Part One (2021). You have been warned.
Inverse can also confirm that the runtime for the film is less than a previously rumored three hours, clocking in roughly at 155 minutes. (This means that Dune: Part One is a little shorter than Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi epic, Blade Runner 2049, which ran 164 minutes.)
So, where does Dune: Part One end, exactly? And what does the ending of the film mean for the fledgling Dune: Part Two? Here’s the breakdown. Again, spoilers for Dune are below. This also includes spoilers for how the events of the book are used in the ending of the new Dune film. If you don’t want even vague spoilers of how Dune: Part One ends, stop reading now! This is your final warning!
How does Dune: Part One end?
The ending of Dune: Part One depicts the pivotal moment in which Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), are accepted into the Fremen sect living in the deserts of Arrakis. And, to win the Fremen's trust, Paul must fight the Fremen leader Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun).
Previously, this ending for the new film was leaked as one of two rumored endings; now, it appears this is indeed the real ending.
The original Dune novel does not feature chapter numbers or chapter titles. As such, depending on the edition, you might identify the exact “middle” of the novel as being a slightly different page. However, from the 2010 Ace Premium edition, Paul’s fight with Jamis starts around page 487 and ends around page 496.
Without spoiling the specifics of the fight or its outcome, you need to know Paul agrees to fight Jamis to demonstrate his willingness to abide by Fremen traditions and culture. In other words, Paul’s fight with Jamis is not his idea, nor is it about him imposing his will on the native peoples of Arrakis.
In David Lynch’s 1984 version of Dune, most of the arc with Jamis is absent from the movie's final cut. As several fans have noted, this is a major flaw within Lynch’s adaptation. Paul fighting Jamis is partly motivated by Paul’s desire to avoid a larger galactic war, proving to the Fremen he is one of them. Whether or not Paul is successful is pretty much a matter of opinion. Dune is not Star Wars. There aren’t really heroes.
What does the ending mean for Dune: Part Two?
Essentially, if Dune: Part Two is never made, the ending of Part One will likely bewilder both casual fans and hardcore spice-heads alike.
Paul’s acceptance into the Fremen culture is the catalyst for the rest of the story, which is partially linked to the eventual arrival of his baby sister Alia Atreides. Essentially, Paul can’t become Muad'dib or the Kwisatz Haderach without this fight.
The bigger space politics of the story can’t happen until Paul ascends within the Fremen culture, and that means the story can’t eventually “end” (in Part Two) without this big fight first. It’s not the only domino in Paul’s story, but it’s one of the biggest ones.
So, when you watch Dune: Part One, and you feel like Jamis's fight is a strange way to end the film, and you want a preview for what will come in the sequel, all you have to do is finish the novel.
And, if you want to see more of the guy who plays Jamis, meanwhile, Olusanmokun will star in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in 2022.
Dune: Part One hits theaters and HBO Max in the US on October 22, 2021.