Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), son of the Duke of Caladan (Oscar Isaac), dreams of a distant planet called Arrakis. He sees endless waves of sand and spices floating in the air of this dry and desolate place. He also sees the cruelty of the Harkonnen, who ravage the land and abuse the native Fremen, their greed growing in their desperation to control the trade in spice, the most valuable substance in the universe. Paul sees the Fremen warriors try and fail to rid themselves of their oppressors, and he sees a beautiful, mysterious warrior (Zendaya) leading him through these dreams.
When the Emperor sends word that the house of Atreides has been tasked with bringing peace to Arrakis, Paul hopes to help his father govern respectfully on the oppressed planet. Little do Paul and his father know that they have been sent to Arrakis to fail, because people are jealous of the respect and success they’ve had on Caladan.
When the Imperial Army joins forces with the brutal and ousted Harkonnen, the Harkonnen return to Arrakis with the intention not only of killing off the last of the house of Atreides but also of exterminating all the Fremen as well.
Meanwhile, with the help of his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and her witchlike powers, Paul finds himself at the centre of an ancient prophecy about a young man who’ll come to Arrakis to save the people and lead the universe into a time of peace.
Genocide; intergalactic politics; subjugation of a nation; war; betrayal; witchcraft and prophecies
Dune has some violence. For example:
- Paul has repeated visions of a man being stabbed with a knife.
- Spaceships and people explode. Fiery debris rains down on people still on the ground.
- Paul has a vision of his friend falling in battle. It later comes to pass.
- Paul and a trainer have a sword fight to the death. They use protective shields so that neither one of them is actually injured, despite repeated stabbing and slicing.
- To see whether he has true inner strength, Paul is tortured by a powerful witch who trained his mother.
- It appears that the Imperial Army has scarified several men, who hang limp while blood runs down a stone channel. The warriors are anointed with blood before leaving to invade Arrakis.
- Three guards are shot and collapse.
- A maid is stabbed through the chest and dies.
- Paul’s father, the Duke, is killed when he checks on the maid and is stabbed by a poisonous hunter-seeker bug.
- A city is bombed by hundreds of invading ships that fire on them from above and launch soldiers to destroy the city from the ground. The Duke’s people are caught between 2 armies that are both intent on destroying his people. There is fighting and hand-to-hand combat with swords. The city is on fire, and many men are beheaded.
- Paul and his mother are kidnapped and are about to be dumped in the desert for the sand worms. They overpower their captors and kill them with their own knives.
- A doctor’s throat is slit.
- Soldiers fight on all sides. They stab, slash and kill each other.
- A pile of bodies burns.
- Imperial soldiers plan an ambush in the sand, and a friend of Paul’s is killed while trying to protect Paul from the onslaught. He fights desperately until he’s stabbed through the chest and collapses. When the remaining soldiers try to get through the door with a laser, he rises again and tries to finish the rest of them off before he falls to the ground and dies.
- A woman is stabbed in the back with a knife. She pounds the sand. A worm approaches to finish her off and kill her assassins as well.
- Paul and his mother fly a plane into a sandstorm, trying to escape soldiers. They crash in the desert and are nearly killed by sand worms before finding a tribe of Fremen.
- Paul is forced to fight and kill a man to secure their place in Fremen society.
Dune has some sexual references. For example, some Harkonnen kidnappers say that they ‘have never had a highborn before’. This is a reference to raping Lady Jessica in front of her son.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Dune shows some use of substances. For example:
- Some of the characters take sleeping tablets.
- The Duke is given a poison tooth, which will kill him and anyone close by. He bites down on it, and everyone in the room is gassed to death with him.
Nudity and sexual activity
Dune has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, the Duke is paralysed and close to death. He’s stripped naked and positioned at the end of a dining table while the Harkonnen leader feasts on chicken feet. He’s clearly naked, but his genitals aren’t visible.
There’s no product placement in Dune.
Dune has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Dune is a science fiction, fantasy, adventure movie with an excellent cast and a well-developed storyline. It does have some violence and disturbing themes, so it’s best suited to teenagers, mature audiences and science fiction and fantasy fans.
These are the main messages from Dune:
- We must rise above fear.
- Dreams are messages from the deep and that we shouldn’t underestimate their power or influence.
- Greatness isn’t a destination you achieve but rather a journey you undertake.
- The most powerful asset a kingdom can possess is the unified strength of its people.
Values in Dune that you could reinforce with your children include friendship, loyalty, honour, helpfulness, ingenuity, resilience and determination.
Dune could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like:
- persecuting and oppressing societies and civilizations
- using violence to solve conflict
- trying to control the minds and free will of others
- plundering a planet for its resources.