Dune is not messing around.
The highly anticipated second trailer for Dune: Part One just premiered online, showcasing a gritty aesthetic and solemn tone for the upcoming science-fiction epic.
The new footage delivers one real message about what audiences can expect from Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the beloved Frank Herbert novel: namely, that this is a deeply serious space opera, unflinchingly faithful to the most brutal elements of the source material.
Here’s why the new Dune trailer proves this movie will be a far cry from the galaxy far, far away of Star Wars. Spoilers ahead for the second Dune trailer.
First up, let’s watch that new trailer!
Dune’s take on imperialism is more realistic
In the far-flung sci-fi worlds of Star Wars and Dune, empires rule and crush their opposition underfoot. In Star Wars, the Empire is purely fascistic, an evil government spearheaded by a lunatic and maintained through fear and cruelty. Dune, however, takes a more realistic approach to this premise, noting that the sprawl of an Empire requires many “good people” to be complicit in upholding its rule.
As the new Dune trailer opens, Arrakis native Chani (Zendaya) details how the villainous House Harkonnen has laid siege to her planet, oppressing and enslaving the Fremen. The crimes of the Harkonnens, and the broad degree to which other characters in the film are implicated in those crimes, will clearly play a major role in Dune.
Paul is no Luke Skywalker
Although Paul (Timothée Chalamet) has numerous mentors — Gurney (Josh Brolin), Duncan (Jason Momoa), and his dad Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) — his journey isn’t really anything like Luke’s. Superficially, you might think Paul’s transformation into a revolutionary hero is similar, but the difference is that Paul gets his hands dirty in ways that Luke never really did. In Star Wars, Luke kills some people on the Death Star and elsewhere, but the audience generally feels that Luke keeps his innocence. As the new Dune trailer proves, Paul’s loss of innocence is basically the arc of the movie.
No happy endings
Just because Paul will end up fighting back against the villains, that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily succeed. The story of Dune is dark, and it’s not just about fighting back against forces of evil to win the day. In many ways, this world is more realistic than that.
Paul isn’t simply trying to protect his family; at the end of the day, his mission will be to form a new Empire. The new trailer introduces some heroes of House Atreides (like Jason Momoa’s Duncan Idaho), but don’t get too attached to any of them. The storylines of Dune have more in common with Game of Thrones than they do with the galaxy far, far away.
Dune is out in US theaters and on HBO Max on October 22.