The South African

First official look – Watch the trailer here


The first trailer for Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune was released earlier this week, and response has been overwhelmingly positive.

The upcoming film is based on the eponymous novel. It was adapted for screen by David Lynch back in 1984, with a miniseries released sixteen years later. Here’s what you need to know about the epic fantasy.

Dune plot and storyline

Dune tells the story of the House Atreides, who are granted rule over the desolate desert planet Arrakis. However, House Atreides is secretly being targeted for elimination.

The House Atreides, Left to Right: Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Stephen Mckinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho. Photo: Chiabella James via Vanity Fair

The story is set in the distant future “amidst a feudal interstellar society”. We meet Paul Atreides (portrayed by Timothee Chalamet) on a journey to understand strange powers he can’t comprehend.

Noble houses control planetary fiefs as Duke Leto Atreides accepts the stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. It is also the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe.

The drug, commonly known as “the spice”, extends human life and provides superhuman levels of thought. It also makes faster-than-light travel possible. Leto takes control of the spice mining operation, but a bitter betrayal awaits.

Watch: ‘Dune’ trailer

Dune cast and characters

  • Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, the scion of House Atreides
  • Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Paul’s Bene Gesserit mother and concubine to Duke Leto
  • Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Paul’s father and a nobleman newly bestowed with the stewardship of the dangerous planet Arrakis, source of the spice
  • Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, the weapons master of House Atreides and one of Paul’s mentors
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the sworn enemy to Leto and former steward of Arrakis
  • Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban, the brutish nephew of Baron Harkonnen
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, a Mentat loyal to House Atreides
  • Zendaya as Chani, a mysterious young Fremen woman and Paul’s love interest. This is a minor role that only required four days of filming.
  • David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, a twisted Mentat loyal to the Baron
  • Chang Chen as Dr Wellington Yueh, a Suk doctor in the employ of the Atreides family
  • Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr Liet-Kynes, Chani’s mother and the leading ecologist and peacekeeper on Arrakis
  • Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam, a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother and the Emperor’s Truthsayer
  • Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, the swordmaster of House Atreides and one of Paul’s mentors
  • Javier Bardem as Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen tribe at Sietch Tabr
Dune film 2020
Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Liet Kynes. Photo: Chiabella James via Vanity Fair

If you’re still not convinced about the upcoming film adaption of Dune, remember that it was the story which inspired Star Wars. To quote Noah Berlatsky from The Observer:

“‘Dune’ is a towering prog concept album, it’s woozy environmental messaging blurring into its woozy colonial nostalgia as ambient background for the guitar crescendo heralding the arrival of…well, you know”.

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