Tag Archives: Dune

The Importance of Dune: Part 1 – The Sleeper Has Awakened, by Tom Luongo

One of the main themes of Dune was the concentration of power, which is certainly relevant today. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Last year I wrote two editorials for the Newsletter in sympathy with Denis Villeneuve’s film, Dune, originally suppose to come out last December. This one was published in the September 2020 issue when the election was the dominant issue of the day. The movie is now out but won’t come to the U.S. until next month and I think it appropriate to publish it now with everything happening in the world today. It’s been edited slightly to bring it up to date.


There are few things I’m more looking forward to than the first of two films by Denis Villeneuve bringing to life Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel Dune.  And it isn’t just because I’m a big fan of the book, which is an intricately-plotted treatise on religion, gender, power and politics, but because its ideas are perfected suited for this period of history.

Because this story, unlike a lot of recent blockbuster films, should scare the pants off our political leaders as they will see themselves onscreen in their various guises.  And that fear may be enough to waken the sleeper, in the parlance of the book, the silent majority now staring at a bleak future post COVID-19.

In the hands of Denis Villeneuve, a film-maker perfectly suited to the material, we could be looking at a movie which becomes a turning point in the culture war.   Villeneuve is one of the few people working today who can marry bold visual storytelling with complex narrative while not browbeating his audience. Watch The Arrival, Sicario or, my favorite, Blade Runner 2049 (see my original thoughts/review here) to get a sense of what we’re in store for.

He reminds me of Ridley Scott at his best, which Scott hasn’t been at for decades.

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The Importance of Dune Part 2: The Jihad, by Tom Luongo

Tom Luongo sees many similarities between Frank Herbert’s classic and the present day West. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

In 2020 I wrote a pair of editorials for the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Newsletter in sympathy to the movie’s original release for last December. This one appeared in November after the (s)election of Joe Biden as U.S. president. I’ve written a lot about the ideas contained in this essay but I felt it appropriate to revisit it now that we’re in the window of seeing our story play out on the big screen, where art still has the possibility of moving us to action.


The Jihad

“We Fremen have a saying: God created Arrakis to train the faithful. One cannot go against the word of God.”

— Frank Herbert

In my last editorial I talked about why Frank Herbert’s Dune was even more relevant today than when it was published in 1965.  As we approached the election, after re-reading Dune, I made it into Herbert’s sequel, Dune Messiah.

And having not read it in thirty years I was amazed at how good it was.  The whole book is about a moment in time that Paul, who can see into the future, cannot see beyond.  The 2020 election felt exactly that way to me.

That moment was a singularity, a point we pass through without knowing what lies on the other side.  The parallels were simply too deep for me to ignore.  The trope Herbert used in Dune Messiah has been copied a hundred times since then, but its metaphoric power remains the same.

A moment like that turns everything on its head when it happens.  It shattered Paul’s life and ushered in the next period of chaos far deadlier than the last.

Dune left us knowing that with the victory over the entrenched, sclerotic power structure of the great houses there would be a religious jihad by the Fremen which would sweep across the galaxy like a plague of killer locusts.

That jihad occurred and Paul was powerless to stop it.

And, like Paul, this is what I fear is coming. The results of the election confirm for me that what comes next will be a terrible thing.

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