Dune Behind-the-Scenes Look: Feud of Royal Houses

5 minute read
Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) piloting an ornithopter in the Dune movie (2021).

Warner Bros. have released a new featurette for Dune: Part One, revealing more footage from the movie and clips from behind the scenes of its production. Director Denis Villeneuve and the film’s stars—including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, David Dastmalchian, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Javier Bardem—offer insights regarding key characters and the roles they play within their respective factions.

This short video succinctly establishes context of the age-old rivalry between the Atreides and Harkonnens. Their bitter feud began over 10 thousand years ago at the end of the Butlerian Jihad, a galactic conflict that shaped the Imperium into what it is today.

As they walk past the tombstones of their ancestors, Duke Leto Atreides explains to Paul, his son, why they’re being mandated to emigrate from their homeworld Caladan and take over Spice production on Arrakis: “The great houses look to us for leadership and this threatens the Emperor.”

The dimwitted Glossu ‘Beast’ Rabban, former governor of Arrakis, is furious that he’s been removed from power over the coveted desert planet, “How can the emperor take everything we’ve built and give it to that filth!” From the perspective of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, however, this is all according to plan. “Whereas a gift, not a gift,” the scheming ruler knows that his hated rivals are walking into a trap.

“And the Fremen?” Rabban asks regarding the natives of Arrakis that he’s already oppressed for decades. “Kill them all,” the Baron commands. The indigenous peoples are more numerous than either realize however, and they will play a key role in the ensuing battle for control of the desert planet, also known as Dune.

Here’s the full transcript of the commentary from the director and actors:

House Atreides

Timothée Chalamet: Denis Villeneuve has a grasp on character-driven narratives, small in scope or larger in scope. Thanks to Frank Herbert here’s a story that’s on that scale but with characters, and relationships, and stories. You know and if these were the things that made me want to act.

Denis Villeneuve: Dune is the story of the Atreides family, that falls into the trap set by the Emperor, who is getting more and more jealous of their growing popularity.

Oscar Isaac: House Atreides stands as a beacon, where every other house in that galaxy is in reference to that, either as enemies or as friends. [Duke Leto] wants to not only make sure that his people survive, but that his son is the kind of leader that he thinks he should be.

Chalamet: Paul Atreides is the son of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica, and my initial conversation with Denis was simply begging him to, you know, be able to take part in the film.

Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) did feel like big brothers. You know they rip him, especially Jason.

Jason Momoa: [Duncan Idaho] is the protector of the Atreides. I mean he’s definitely the head knight who watches over the family. That’s a sworn duty, I mean it’s what any honorable knight soldier does. I mean that’s his family, that’s who he lives for.

Villeneuve: Gurney Halleck is a combat trainer and he’s a warrior.

Josh Brolin: He’s a very strict, but fun visceral, paternal, maternal—he’s all of those things to Paul.

Chalamet: Lady Jessica is part of the order of the Bene Gesserit. This order that she’s a part of,
we can say make her perhaps the non-traditional partner to Duke Leto.

Rebecca Ferguson: This group of women who carries enormous strength and power: they are bodyguards they are fighters, they can read people. And this is what Jessica is having to deal with; being a mother, a lover, and this Bene Gesserit.

House Harkonnen

Denis Villeneuve: Every movie needs is it’s a bad guys and the Harkonnens are the old ancestral enemies of the Atreides.

David Dastmalchian: The Harkonnen have been a very dark, sadistic family in this galaxy.

Villeneuve: Frank Herbert created a very powerful character in Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Stellan Skarsgård: He just shows up and then his shadow looms throughout the film.

Dave Bautista: He’s the cause of many people’s deaths, he feeds off fear, he feeds off of pain, he’s a vicious, sadistic person.

The Fremen

Denis Villeneuve: The Fremen are native tribes, people living in a deep desert. They have the capacity to adapt to the toughest environment: deep heat, massive sand storms, dangerous predators all around.

Javier Bardem: Stilgar is is the leader of the Fremen. He is a powerful character as a warrior, but also he’s a worrier. He worries about the future.

Sharon Duncan-Brewster: Dr. Liet Kynes on the surface was seemingly just somebody who’s an ecologist, someone who cares about the Fremen, but then you start to understand how much pressure she is actually under.

Villeneuve: Paul is dreaming about this strange young woman, that keeps talking to him in his dream. She feels like an old friend again and someone that like wants to guide him.

Zendaya: Chani is native to Arrakis. She’s used to this hostility between her people and the people that are trying to take from her land. She’s a fighter at the end of the day.

A Conflict of Houses

Oscar Isaac: House Atreides and the Harkonnens have an ancient grudge and the forces that they’re up against are much greater than [Duke Leto] had anticipated.

Timothée Chalamet: They’re on a path of conflict and it’s the moral catalyst to Paul’s arc, towards
something greater.

Source: Golden Screen Cinemas YouTube channel

Marcus Gabriel

Marcus is the lead editor for Dune News Net, on top of his marketing role at a major player in the entertainment industry. Since devouring the first Dune trilogy in primary school, he has been a lifelong fan of all forms of science fiction and fantasy media. He could not be more excited about the current Dune revival and covering the new movies as they release.