10 Ways The New Dune Movie Is Nothing Like The Books

fans of the dunes novel series have been waiting for a well-done adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic tale for almost 60 years—and thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 sci-fi epic, they finally have it. As the best-selling science fiction novel of all time, dunes follows a young Paul Atreides as he rises to his destiny on the titular sand planet in a cautionary tale of power, politics, and religion.

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While tweaks and alterations are a given for movie adaptations, like swapping the gender of certain characters or dropping storylines to make the narrative more cohesive, these are some of dunes‘s most significant changes from page to screen.

spoiler alert: The following article contains major spoilers for dunes, both the new film as well as the book series.

10 A Lot Of The Dialogue Is Altered From The Book (But In A Good Way)

One aspect of the dunes novel that makes it difficult to properly adapt is its many inner monologues. David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation relied heavily on voice-over narration which ended up being a disservice.

In Villeneuve’s dunesthis problem was solved by altering a lot of the dialogue and exposition in a way that gets Herbert’s words across in a more fluid and direct way, like visual cues of Duke Leto’s fate as opposed to the Reverend Mother’s cryptic words towards the beginning of the book.

9 The Baron’s Attraction To Young Boys Is Barely Hinted At

Baron Harkonnen using his suspensor in Dune

Unfortunately, Herbert’s original 1965 novel depicts the Baron Harkonnen as “The Depraved Homosexual,” a harmful trope that explicitly links being gay with being evil. The Baron is the only character in the book who is shown to be gay and it’s always in a predatory way as the Baron assaults slave boys and fantasizes about 15-year-old Paul.

Villeneuve wisely cut this from the movie but does have Duke Leto shown naked in his death scene, which could be interpreted as a subtle hint to the books.

8 No Mention Of Paul Being Trained To Become A Mentat

Timothee Chalamet as Paul in Dune

In the world of dunes, artificial intelligence has been banned for centuries which created the need for training people called Mentats to have computer-like minds. In the book, Paul is told that he had been secretly trained to be one.

Paul surmises that his newfound awareness and visions of his “terrible purpose” may refer to becoming a Mentat and it’s implied that this, along with his Bene Gesserit training, lays the groundwork for Paul being the Kwisatz Haderach. However, Paul’s Mentat training is dropped from the film entirely.

7 Gurney Doesn’t Sing Or Play The Baliset

Josh Brolin in Dune

In the books, Gurney Halleck is renowned for his fighting skills, his loyalty to House Atreides, and his musical talents. Gurney plays a nine-stringed instrument called the baliset and sings many songs throughout the book.

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Since dunes is such an epic film that fits only half of the first book, it’s understandable for these scenes to be cut. The only reference to Gurney’s music talents is in his training scene with Paul on Caladan and some scenes where Gurney recites a song like it’s a poem.

6 Thufir Hawat’s Suspicions Of Lady Jessica Are Barely There

In dunes, there is a traitor to House Atreides, and suspicion is put on Lady Jessica by the Harkonnens which is a lie that Duke Leto sees right through. Leto’s Mentat Thufir Hawat believes it to be true, however, and even tries to confront Jessica on it but is shown just how powerful the Bene Gesserit is.

There is little mention of this in the film but, since these suspicions are important in the last half of the book, it may come up in the possible sequel.

5 The Sardaukar Don’t Disguise Themselves As Harkonen Soldiers When They Attack House Atreides

The Saudaurkar attack in Dune 2021

This is a detail that was likely changed due to constraints of the movie’s runtime but it is a significant one for book readers of Dunes. When the Harkonnens and the Sardaukar attack House Atreides on Arrakis, it’s of the utmost importance that the Sardaukar be disguised as Harkonnen soldiers so as not to link the attack to the Padishah Emperor, whom the Sardaukar fight for.

In the film, however, the Sardaukar are instead dressed in their distinctive armor, implying that the Emperor expected no survivors.

4 Kynes’ Death Is Way More Cinematic

Doctor Liet Kynes was gender-swapped for the film, but a more notable change was actually Kynes’ death. In the book, Kynes was stripped of his stillsuit and forced out into the desert by the Harkonnens, who wanted Kynes silenced. During this chapter, Kynes was killed by a natural explosion of deep underground spice.

But in the 2021 movie, Kynes tries to make her escape via sandworm but is stabbed by a Sardaukar and has the worm come to take them down with her, making for a heart-stopping scene.

3 Paul’s Part In The Sandcrawler Scene Is Given More Spice (Literally)

One of the most exciting parts of Dune is the Sandcrawler scene where Paul first sees a sandworm. Kynes is showing Leto, Gurney, and Paul how the spice melange is harvested on Arrakis when a worm approaches to devour the spicecrawler machine.

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In the book, Paul stays on the ‘thopter and watches the worm from the window, but in the movie, he leaves the ‘thopter and, after being exposed to the spice, his prescience begins to awaken and Gurney has to save him from being devoured, too.

two Paul Keeping His Dreams From His Mother

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in Dune

In the film, Paul begins to tell his mother of his dreams but instead confides in Duncan Idaho. These two scenes are not in the book and it’s established that he does tell Jessica of his dreams of her.

While other books in the Dune series give credence to Duncan having a bigger role in the film, it’s curious that it went hand-in-hand with Paul keeping his dreams from Jessica. This may be included to illustrate her mysterious Bene Gesserit powers of her as she secretly knew of her dreams of her.

1 Chani Not Assisting Paul Before His Fight With Jamis

Since 2021’s dunes is the first of a planned two-part adaptation, the movie ends roughly halfway through the book. This is where Paul and Jessica are found by the Fremen and Paul must fight a man named Jamis to the death. There are a lot more in the book, but one noticeable deviation is Chani’s attitude toward Paul.

In the book, she gives Paul detailed advice for fighting Jamis but in the movie, she only hands him a crysknife so that he could die honorably.

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