Children of Dune Pt 1 “Dune Messiah”
First a short disclaimer: This is an adaptation of Frank Herberts Dune Saga from Book2 “Dune Messiah” to the end of book3 “Children of Dune. Part 1, deals primarily with Dune Messiah. John Harrison naturally re-wrote and condensed events to fit this into a 6-hour epic.
And Epic it is. We last left the Atreides family back on Arrakis, also known as *Dune*. Paul had dispatched the last of the Harkonnen: his family mortal enemy and replaced Emperor Shaddam IV, the 82nd Padishah Emperor of House Corrino. Paul has become the first God-Emperor, sending a Jihad (Holy War) out among the Universe. With a “Convert or Die” philosophy, the Saudakar and Fremen overrun the Universe killing billions. Paul continues to have visions of the future, but the futures all end with the death of humanity a LONG time from now. He see’s only one path, once, and only briefly through his son. A “Golden-Path” of Humanity, the one path that leads to survival. Throughout the movie we see these visions and while not explained, Im explaining it, sorry 🙂 These events will lead to the removal of Paul as a deity.
The movie starts at such an event. We find an old bodyguard of Pauls named Farok, mourning his son’s lost eyes. In their society a blind Fremen is given as a gift to the desert, to the Worms also called Shai-Halud. Instead Farok hides his son, and thus begins the conspiricy.
Little too pretty for a Fremen
The next scene is a re-write to introduce Wensicia, the eldest daughter of the ex Emperor Shaddam IV. She is conspiring to bring down House Atreides once and for all. She is working with Reverand Mother Mohium of the Sisterhood of the Bene-Gesserit to bring down Paul. She introduces Mohium to Scytale(Remember this guy!) a Face-Dancer of the race known as the Bene Tlielax. This race’s expertise is in cloning and biology and as such have created an identical clone, also called “Ghola” from the dead flesh of Duncan Idaho, swordmaster of the Ginaz school, and best-friend to Emperor Paul Atreides. Duncan was originally killed protecting Pauls escape from the Harkonnen.
He may be pretty ladies, but he can also kill you in a second flat!
Duncan is the greatest fighter in the Galaxy, and the single most loyal person to the Atreides. Duncan originally forged the friendship between Fremen and Atreides, and as such the Fremen are appalled by Duncans return. They believe him to be a devil. Regardless, Paul accepts the gift from “Edric” the new ambassador from the Spacing Guild.
The Spacing-Guild is a seperate faction who is supposedly neutral in ALL dealings. They are a strange Fish-Like being that has been mutated by massive overdoses of the Spice-Melange. They live in tanks filled with Melange gas and are generally pretty creepy beings. I dont have a photo but just imagine a big gold-fish dabbled with someone’s daddy and created a freak of nature.
Something unexplained in the movie that is quite important is that Edric can blind Paul’s vision. Paul “Maud-Dib” Atreides can literally see all aspects of the future. But whenever a Guild-Navigator is around his vision becomes blocked, and thus Paul cannot see the conspiricy against him. Just a little side-note to those wondering…
Meanwhile Scytale visits our old friend Farok and sympathizes with the plight of his blind son, well that is until Scytale sends a poison dart into the throat of poor Farok.
Scytale both Face-Dancer and Master to the Bene-Tlielaxu, the greatest enigma of the Dune series. The face he uses is a living mask, their species is actually grey-skinned, tiny, and utterly evil. He can be either Sex at will. EWWW!!
Scytale assumes the form of Lichna, the daughter of a close friend to Paul.
What a difference a day makes!!! BTW Lichna is a fancy way of saying “Dead Mask” or “Person once dead reanimated”. A little Herbert easter-egg.
Meanwhile back at the Ranch, Pauls sister Alia, sometimes referred to by the Fremen as “Saint Alia of the Knife” is doing her name justice. She is training in a combat game and going way too far. She surpasses the limits and uses 11 discs (In the book its considered insane to go above 3-5, Paul did 9 once) then she strips naked before her brother walks in. Are we watching Oedipus Rex or Dune here!!??!
Im told Saddy spilled his beer at this point!!
After the well recieved gratitious nudity, Alia is sent with Duncan to investigate the death of an unknown Fremen girl in the desert (Remember Lichna!?!). Meanwhile Scytale in the form of Lichna visits Paul and gives the ultra super secret Fremen pass-word. She informs Paul that her father has urgent news of the conspiricy and he must come quick!!
Paul of course see’s through the mask of Scytale but knowing his vision of the Golden Path, he must continue. In the interim we find that Pauls wife in name, the Princess Irulan Corrino, youngest of the Corrino daughters is administering a contraceptive to Chani, the Fremen wife and true love of Paul. Chani figures this out and warns Irulan that if she bears any child she will die. Irulan argues it is her right to bear the royal heir at which Chani just scoffs.
It’s good to be the King!! or Emperor
The Fremen are growing more and more upset at Paul. They have lost their old ways and have grown “Water-Fat” from their wealth. They have begun to transform Arrakis from desert into Paradise. The conspiricy continues to grow and will lead into Parts 2 and 3. However the Royal Conspiricy between the Guild, Bene-Gessirit, Bene-Tlielaxu, and House Corrino continues as Paul visits his old friend Otheum. He is presented with a dwarf named Bijaz from a faraway world (Actually a Bene Tlielaxu construct) that holds the names of the conspiritors against Paul.
“Oompa Loompa, Loopidy Doo!”
Bijaz is a cryptic little dude who speaks in riddles and poems, he tells Paul they must leave immediatly! At which Paul realizes why, BANG!!! A Stone-Burner, kind of a pocket-Nuke detonates, blinding Paul immediatly (Remember Farok!?)
“My eyes!! MY beautiful Eyes!! I knew this was Oedipus!”
Now blind, Paul must obey the Fremen law and walk into the desert to die. Stilgar, Pauls old boss is distraught at this situation until Paul starts commanding troops around, explaining his eyes are gone, but his sight is not. And thus grows the legend of the God-Emperor…
Alia meanwhile is being visited more frequently by guests in her head. Alia while in the womb was exposed to the Spice-Melange concentrate called the Water of Life. This gave her the memories of her bloodline, and as such they pester her constantly from birth on, creating a possessed mad-woman eventually, but for now she still struggles. And in comes Duncan to ease her worries, he misinterpretes her possession for distraught. And as she falls asleep in his arms, in comes our favorite dwarf Bijaz.
“Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm” goes the humming of Bijaz. This is what I love about the movies, they actually got the Bene Tlielax right, whereas Lynch never even bothered to discuss them, anyways….
Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm
the buzzing of Bijaz is actually a subliminal program, setting Duncan up as a trigger to kill Paul. Little does ANYONE know its actually a ruse, the Bene Tlielax never expected to kill Paul, but it would’ve been a nice bonus. They have something else in mind….
Bijaz programs Duncan to kill Paul the moment he uses the words
“She is gone Duncan”
The movie fails to explain the Irulan is also in on the conspiricy, I can understand why. In 6 hours Irulan must go from bad guy to good guy and there’s not enough time for that. She will later become the most loyal of all Atreides and willing to die for his children is the reason why her being a traitor now is too hard to believe in movie format. Irulan’s contraceptive is killing Chani, Chani is forced to go on an all Spice diet just in order to live long enough to give birth. For those wondering, this is why Bijaz knows Chani will die soon. The movie NEVER explains how its connected, the one downside to this film.
Anyways, Duncan has no memory of the meeting and a now blind Paul is leaving to meditate while his wife leaves to give birth in Sietch Tabr, home of Maud-Dib. He leaves instructions to Alia to
“Time to settle old accounts”
And the Godfather responds. They round up the members of the conspiricy, Edric, Mohium, some Fremen and murder them in a fantastic montage of scenes with great music. Meanwhile Chani gives births to twins, something Paul did not see in his visions. He names the daughter Ghani which means “Spoil of War” as she was an unseen birth.
Chani dies during the birth and never see’s Paul again, but for the movie they have one last tear jerking scene in which she tells Paul: “In this Universe nothing is as great, as my love for you”
Then she promptly dies, leaving Paul in tears with only Duncan to console him. Duncan hugs Paul as Paul claims
“She is gone Duncan”
Duncan immediatly responds unsheathing his Crysknife to slay his master. At this point the ultimate Bene Tlielax plan comes into play, a plan no one knew about except Bijaz and Scytale, and even Bijaz is just a backup for Scytale. You see the Bene Tleilaxu are very much like the Brunnen-G in some ways, they are so advanced that they can do things no one else can do, but one thing has always escaped them: Immortalilty.
When Duncan responds his mental compulsion to kill is counter to his blood-oath of protecting the Atreides. (Imagine you had amnesia and someone told you to kill your mum) Because of which Duncans Ghola amnesia is broken for the first time in all history, and Duncan reclaims his old memories. At this we see great filmwork as Harrison understands how important this scene is for the future of the Dune Saga, Lichna who is Scytale almost faints and a smile comes to his face. Most people probably were wondering why is he smiling he is supposed to kill Paul!!! Well this is why 🙂
Duncan refuses to kill Paul and Paul knows from his visions that this was the moment his real Duncan comes back. However Paul is now upon the Golden Path utterly and his vision is truly gone. Lichna morphs back into Scytale and goes to backup plan 12845, he tells Paul very emotionally that Duncan is now truly Duncan. And its a secret the Bene-Tleilax have searched for decades for (Actually more like thousands of years, since the Butlerian Jihad) and he is exhaultant saying over and over
“We did it, we did it!”
(Fans note: Scytale goes from Face-Dancer (less than human to the Masters, possibly another race entirely from the normal BT) to Master (one of the inner circle of leaders, fanatically religious) in the series, its presumed his discovery of immortality is why. From this day foward the Bene-Tleilax become the only race that is clinically immortal. The constantly re-grow themselves and retrigger their memories. It doesent come into play until the final 2 books in the series though so just a little editors note for now)
Paul however is miserable, and Scytale is ruthless. He offers Paul one last chance to have Chani back, they will regrow her and give her back her memories and she will be just like Duncan. And this is the real trap. The gift of Duncan was NOT to kill Paul, it was simply to show Paul how REAL these gholas are, and now with memories they are no different from the real thing. But Paul deep inside knows when he accepts he will become a slave to the Bene Tleilax, what he doesent know is they already have his cells anyway and probably would replace him too.
Scytale threatens to kill Pauls children if he refuses or if Duncan attacks Scytale he will also kill his children. Paul is in agony, blinded there is nothing he can do, but his children like Alia are preborn and Leto his son sends a vision to Paul of what he is currently seeing, and using this….
Dont worry bout ol Scytale, he comes back in later books, even worse than before!!
Paul using the vision of his son, slays Scytale saving his children and walks off into the desert to die, leaving his insane, possessed sister to rule his Empire. Meanwhile Wensicia is still plotting, and the Fremen are getting angrier….
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This Dune review is © 2003 Greg Frantz.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission.
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