What happened at the end of Dune and what it all means. The open conclusion clearly states that there is more to come, and it certainly is: Dune changes only the first part of the novel by Frank Herbert, and Warner Bros. and director Denis Villeneuve have agreed to change the story into two films. However, there are a number of questions the audience will ask about the end of Dune and where the characters and story follow.
Dune follows Paul Atreides of Timothée Chalamet, son of the venerable House Atreides, in the galaxy of the feudal system controlled by Padishah Emperor Shadam IV. When Paul’s family, led by Oscar-winning emperor Leto, is summoned by a well-known universal ruler to take control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), Leto feels trapped but can do nothing to stop it. When they arrived on the planet, however, they encountered a powerful force.
The Governor must work closely with the natives of Arrakis, Fremen, to dig up the spice melange, a popular resource throughout the Dune region. The planet’s former rulers, the Harkonnens, are mortal enemies of the House Atreides and their relationship with the Fremen was strained. Although Duke Leto tries to rectify this, it is too late and the governor and Harkonnen troops attack Arrakis. Duke Leto and many other House Atreides died in the altercation, prompting Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), to flee into the desert. There they have to seek safety with the Fremen.
Dune Movie Ending Explained
Director Denis Villeneuve concludes his familiarity with Frank Herbert’s novel in a quiet moment than ever before. After being chased into the wilderness by Harkonnen and Sardaukar’s troops, Jessica and Paul escaped the onslaught of a worm just to meet the seemingly hostile group Fremen. While Dune spent a lot of time introducing various bands playing in the movie world, Villeneuve’s movie did not clash when it came to exploring the indigenous people of Arrakis. However, a solid foundation had already been laid with the likes of Liet Kynes and Stilgar that it was obvious to choose the ending before Paul and Jessica moved to Fremen’s Sietch.
As for fate itself, Paul and Jessica found themselves desperate for help to survive in an empty desert. Fremen know better than anyone else how to survive in the area, but not everyone is quick to accept outsiders. Jamis of Babs Olusanmokun is one of those who hesitated to welcome Paul and Jessica to Sietch and asked to fight Paul in the hope that he would prevent them from coming.
Paul and Jami’s duel and young Atreides are reluctant to kill Fremen – as Jessica says, she has never killed anyone before. In this, however, life or death and Paul chooses life, finally defeating Jamis and gaining respect from the Fremen who saw the duel.
In recognition of Fremen, Paul and Lady Jessica were welcomed to Sietch. This puts Paul in charge of their young messiah down the road, who will follow him into the vast galaxy war. It also earns the respect of Chani, her future lover and the mother of her children. Most importantly, but it prepares him for what is to come.
Finally, the story in Dune’s novel is twofold, the next story of the years as Paul comes to his own as a leader and the criticism that is part of the hero’s journey. Paul making the difficult decision to kill someone not only proves that he can be a good leader when it comes to protecting those he loves, like his mother, but it also shows a sign of maturity.
Earlier in the film, in an interview with Oscar Isaac’s Duke Leto, Paul expressed his displeasure at being the leader of House Atreides. At the end of the film, however, Paul is clearly ready to be the leader, welcoming Dasonan Idaho of Jason Momoa when he calls Paul, “My Lord Duke,” and looks at one person in his surviving family, Lady Jessica.
However, the death of James in Paul’s hands is also a negative sign of Paul’s future. The duel was largely out of control and Paul was forced to enter a murder scene. This shows his journey as Kwisatz Haderach – the prophesied Messiah of Bene Gesserit. Some decisions that Paul was forced to make will eventually lead to a war in his name, which has resulted in the loss of billions of lives worldwide. Jamis’ death is the first of many.
After a fight between Paul and Jamis, Fremen’s team led him and his mother into the wilderness. They are likely heading for the Sichch Tabr, one of Fremen’s largest fortresses in the barren desert where the great story of Dune 2 will take place. The harsh conditions of the desert make the environment dangerous for anyone unfamiliar with it. Living in Sietch will not only give Paul and Lady Jessica protection from worms but will also protect them from any other enemies, including House Harkonnen.
Much of the movie’s marketing leaned heavily on the dreams and premonitions of Dune’s Paul Atreides, but most of what he sees doesn’t yet come to fruition in the movie. While he does meet Chani and Jamis in the final scene of the film, much of what is shown in his dreams is actually still a while off from happening. Paul’s meeting of the Fremen is also crucial to the realization of these dreams. The young Atreides is destined to become a messianic leader for the people indigenous to Arrakis, inspiring their bloody crusade.
This crusade is teased in two pivotal dreams. One is when Paul and a group of soldiers stage an attack in the desert. Paul can be seen wearing gold armor as he and other soldiers come up from under the sand, a known Fremen guerrilla fighting technique. Another shows Paul, Chani, and some of their followers looking down from a ship at soldiers on Caladan. They are waving Atreides banners and cheering for their leader. The rest of Paul’s dreams merely hint at the importance of Chani in his story and how their relationship will be pivotal in the future.
With the Atreides’ rule over Arrakis now diminished, the Harkonnens will now return to rule over the desert planet. The underlying malevolent plan in the Dune 2021 movie was actually about reinstating the Harkonnens and eliminating the Atreides. The emperor was threatened by Duke Leto’s popularity within the Landsraad, the political body representing all of the Great Houses. The political maneuver of putting the Atreides in charge of Arrakis was a two-pronged effort, one that would eliminate a threat to the emperor’s rule while currying favor with the brutal and powerful House Harkonnen.
Dune is only half the story and that’s ultimately for the best. Herbert’s novel is dense and complex, setting up a world that is entirely unfamiliar. Much of Villeneuve’s film accomplishes this, but it barely touches on the complexity of the Fremen people. Dune 2 will rectify that. As Paul and Lady Jessica become further entrenched with the Fremen, they will earn their support, as Paul did in Dune’s ending during his duel with Jamis.
By gaining their support, Paul will be able to rally the Fremen against the Harkonnens and while he has his own motivations for doing this, so do the people of Arrakis. Prior to the Atreides’ arrival on the planet, the Harkonnens were brutal overseers of the spice trade, inciting the rage of the Fremen. Paul will capitalize on that for his own gains, leading to his messianic role as Muad’Dib and setting up much of what’s to come next for the people of Arrakis.
With the Dune adaptation split into two parts, it truly only explores the themes of the novel halfway. Paul goes on a typical hero’s journey in the first part of Herbert’s novel and that is intentional. Herbert plays into this archetype only to deconstruct it in the second half of Dune and the rest of the series.
Villeneuve seems to be on a similar track. While Paul comes into his own as a leader in Dune’s ending, he also is forced to kill someone. Not only does this paint a picture of the type of difficult decisions leaders have to make in this brutal world, but it also drives home the point that Paul’s “hero’s journey” isn’t necessarily a heroic tale at all.
Paul’s leadership will result in the death of billions, but it will first start as a revenge mission against those who harmed his family – the Harkonnens and the emperor. Dune’s ending isn’t a happy one nor is it meant to be. Paul has brought his mother to safety, but he has also set in motion events that he is powerless to stop. It also sets up the underlying message that those with vast power can never be heroes as brutal, sometimes ruthless decisions will always have to be made by anyone with that much power or influence. This drives home Herbet’s idea that there are no true heroes – just those who see themselves as the heroes of their own stories.
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