This article contains potential spoilers for Dune 2.
For longtime fans of Frank Herbert‘s most famous novels, the new Denis Villeneuve films are a kind of gift. As he made clear in 2021, Villeneuve is a Dune fan first, and a filmmaker second. “To me, reading Dune is like a paradise,” he said two years ago just before the launch of Dune: Part One. “The book stayed with me all these years.” Now, with Dune: Part Two just around the corner, we’ve been given a tantalizing new trailer for the film, one that showcases just how much of Herbert’s original work Villeneuve has managed to get into the second part of his sci-fi epic.
But if it’s been a while since you’ve read the original novel, it might feel like this trailer is almost giving too much away.
We see what appears to be the Fremen and Atreides forces attacking the Harkonnens while riding a trio of sandworms. We get glimpses of Feyd-Rautha, played with horrifying perfection by Austin Butler. We see Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) grappling with the myriad futures glimpsed in his various prescient visions. We even see an expanded role for Chani, which seems to address the fact that in the first novel, and most adaptations, the character is tragically underdeveloped. We even get a glimpse of a moment when Paul bellows “silence,” and uses the Voice to best Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling.)
At a glance, even if you’re familiar with the broad strokes of the book, it might seem that nearly everything is covered in this trailer. We see the Emperor (Christopher Walken), Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), and even good old Gurney (Josh Brolin.) What’s left? Well, this is what is brilliant about the rollout of Dune: Part Two so far; arguably, the biggest twist from the latter half of the book has been kept entirely secret. And that secret is — Alia Atreides, Paul’s baby sister who is pre-born with the memories of all her ancestors.
Played by Alicia Witt in the 1984 film, and by Laura Burton, and then later, Daniela Amavia, in the 2000 and 2003 miniseries, the character of Alia Atreides is absolutely pivotal to the entire Dune mythos. Because Lady Jessica takes the water of life, Alia is accidentally imbued with all the memories of her ancestors before her. This means she’s a baby who can talk right away and a toddler who can wield a knife. In the book, it’s Alia who kills Baron Harkonnen in the end, and by the time of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, she wields even more power.
But Alia isn’t just relevant because she’s a badass super-baby. The deeper importance of her character is connected to the revelation that both she and Paul are not only descended from Atreides blood, and Bene Gesserit breeding programs, but also…related to the Harkonnens, directly. The Baron is secretly Alia and Paul’s grandfather, a fact which becomes super relevant in the ending of the original Dune, and later, looms large in the events of Children of Dune. If you’ve never read the books, the idea that the Baron is Alia and Paul’s grandfather isn’t too different from the revelation that Rey is a Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. It changes the context of the story, tightens the stakes for the first book, and sets several things in motion for the two books that follow.
Villeneuve has made it clear many times that he hopes to make one more film based on Dune Messiah, the second novel. In that book, Alia is a teenager and a major player in the politics and intrigue of Arrakis. To be clear: there’s no version of Dune: Part Two, or a movie version of Messiah in which Alia doesn’t appear. In fact, because we’re now so close to the release of Dune: Part Two, it feels possible that WB will keep how Alia is depicted in the movie a secret right up until the films actually opens. We know this story has to end with Alia at Paul’s side after she slays the Baron. But, how Alia will appear this time, how she’ll talk, and what she’ll be like, will remain, at least for now, a refreshing surprise.
Dune: Part Two hits theaters on March 1, 2023.
The post Dune 2’s Trailers Are Still Hiding the Book’s Biggest Twist appeared first on Den of Geek.