Dune 2 Movie Controversy Explained

Dune 2 Movie Controversy Explained

Dune 2 Movie Controversy Explained

 

 

 

Dune 2 is the subject of controversy following the release of Denis Villeneuve’s science fiction epic.

Picking up the story mere moments after the events of 2021’s DuneDune: Part Two follows Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides as a foreigner who rises to Messiah status on his new planetary home of Arrakis.

The movie has been called a gripping take on “religious fanaticism at points,” going deep into the consequences of blind faith and the origins of religious dogma. But that story direction rubbed some fans the wrong way in this sweeping tale.

Dune 2 Colonist Controversy

Dune 2 Movie Controversy Explained
Dune 2 Movie Controversy Explained

While Dune 2 has gripped audiences, starting things off with a bang at the beginning of its box office run, some are levying complaints against the film.

This controversy mostly comes from moviegoers calling the film blind to its contradictive nature in portraying a predominantly white colonizer coming in and exploiting a foreign land and its people.

This plays out in Dune‘s story as Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides has been lined up as a religious messiah figure for the Fremen – a race of desert-dwelling nomads – providing the long-oppressed natives to the planet of Arrakis a path to freedom.

Some have taken issue with this colonial imagery in the movie, calling it tone-deaf that a Western film take on this sort of subject matter. This comes with many seeing the West as spreading propaganda and exploiting nations all over the world for centuries, especially in the Middle East (of which there are parallels culturally to the Fremen).

One X (formerly Twitter) user summed these complaints up succinctly by saying, “For decades the West has attacked Islam, spread propaganda, and now they are making money from a movie inspired by it.”

Others believe that, unlike Frank Herbert’s original 1965 Dune novel, Denis Villeneuve’s take on the franchise has sanded down the diversity of the source material.

In Herbert’s seminal sci-fi classic, the Fremen are even more heavily implied to be inspired by real-world Arabics, speaking a language that more closely mimics dialects of the Middle East.

That has instead been largely stripped from the big-screen adaptation – as well as much of the Fremen’s power seen in the original book.

According to detractors of Villeneuve’s interpretation of the Dune universe, this turned Dune 2 into one of white saviorism with these sanded-down Persian and Arabic-inspired edges.

Instead of a feeling of revolution amongst the evidently Persian-inspired Fremen, the arrival and rise of Chalamet’s Occidental hero comes off to some as yet another instance of Western society coming to the ‘aid’ and ‘saving’ a foreign land.

Dune 2 Called Propagandist By Audiences

Another interpretation of Dune 2 that has kicked up some dust has to do with the filmmaker behind the movie himself, Denis Villeneuve.

Villeneuve hails from the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, with some taking Dune 2 to be an allegory for the struggle of Quebecois living in Canada.

A few particularly dismayed viewers have gone as far as to call the movie Quebecois Nationalist propaganda. Those fans see the film as an assumed metaphor for a state separating and rebelling against a larger governing power (something that has been a hot-button issue in Quebec for decades).

While that is up to the viewer to decide for themself, Villeneuve has talked about how his French Canadian upbringing inspired the movie.

In a conversation with Cult MTL mentioned how he was born during Quebec’s Quiet Revolution where “Quebec had just separated from the church” and “he intellectuals of the province were working to separate church and state:”

“I was born in 1967, when Quebec had just separated from the church, and the intellectuals of the province were working to separate church and state. Before that, the church had a hold on politics in Quebec that was very unhealthy. Artists and young politicians, with the Réfus Global and what follows, decided to break with the church and create a secular state.”

He continued, saying, of course, those things bled into his work on Dune and Dune 2, shaping his take on Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi world:

“That idea helped me in my adaptation of and my approach to the people of this world (in ‘Dune’), which is to say, I didn’t want them to be homogenous, that they’d have different sets of beliefs, different processes of thought and that we have a youth movement that puts into question established dogmas that are still being embraced by an older generation.”

So while the politics of his homeland and the world may have had some influence on Dune: Part Two, to call it propaganda would be considered a bit of a stretch to most.


Dune: Part Two is playing in theaters now.

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