Dune 2 has a big problem

Denis Villeneuve’s movie may be politically much more explosive than intended when it finally releases

Damien Walter
2 min readNov 9, 2023

Dune 2 has a big problem.

Frank Herbert was partly inspired to write Dune by The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence AKA Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence, as a remarkably young British officer in the first world war, lead an uprising of of Arab tribes in revolt against the Ottoman empire.

To achieve this Lawrence exploited messianic myths and the Islamic concept of “Jihad”. In short, Lawrence allowed himself to be seen as a Messiamic tribal leader, in order to topple an Empire.

Very much like Paul Atreides.

Denis Villeneuve made what must have been a deliberate decision in his Dune movie to replace Jihad with Crusade. But it’s still inescapable that Arrakis is Arabia, and the Fremen are a representation of the Arab tribes. Arab literally means “desert people”.

Herbert is a brilliantly intelligent writer. Dune begins as a “disinherited prince” story following Paul Atreides on his Hero’s Journey to recover his kingdom. But the second half of Dune twists into an exploration of the dark side of that heroism. Messianic Heros are not heroic. The psychology of a person who can murder millions of people to gain power is always psychopathic.

I’m fascinated to see how Villeneuve handles the theme of heroism vs psychopathy in Dune 2. Part 1 definitely laid groundwork for the idea that we will see Paul descend into psychopathy in a very, very dark telling of Dune.

Add to this that that Dune 2s delayed release means it may hit cinemas in the midst of a renewed war with Jihadism, an issue that seemed somewhat more distant even a few months ago. Dune 2 may be politically much more explosive than intended when it finally releases.

Watch on the Science Fiction channel



Damien Walter

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.