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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Stunning ‘Dune: Part Two’ film depicts issues between religion, politics

Courtesy Photo | Warner Bros. Pictures
Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides in “Dune: Part Two.”

In the novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert, nowhere is the danger of combining religious fanaticism and political manipulation more prevalently portrayed than in the 2024 movie adaptation of the second half of the novel, “Dune: Part Two.”

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, “Dune: Part Two” follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), son of Duke Leto Atreus, as he struggles to gain the trust and respect of the Fremen on the planet of Arrakis to wage war against the House of Baron Harkonnen and his followers.

However, as Paul aims to gain trust and respect through hard work and selflessness, his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) plans on manipulating the Fremen through their religious beliefs of a prophecy that a mother and son from beyond Arrakis will save its people and lead them to paradise.

The movie does a good job of portraying the dangers of blind faith and how easy it is to manipulate people by the values and customs that they hold dear. Religions have the power to bring together people from different backgrounds and societal customs and unite them under a shared system of beliefs.

However, religions can and have been abused by people to spread fear, hatred and bigotry. Many wars have been fought, cultures have been destroyed and millions have died throughout history as the result of corrupt leaders trying to mix religion and politics.

This religious abuse makes up the entire plot and backstory of the movie. The Bene Gesserit, a cult-like sisterhood whose goal is on acquiring power while maintaining the illusion of following others, is revealed to have planted the seeds for religions on numerous underdeveloped planets, Arrakis included. It is from those seeds of faith that Lady Jessica and an initially reluctant Paul can manipulate the Fremen to their will, essentially colonizing the planet under their control and convincing its people to commit a pan-galactic crusade.

Chalamet’s performance was a highlight of the film and a brilliant deconstruction of the chosen one archetype. He is aware of his seemingly destined fate as the Fremen messiah and that he can use this power to avenge his family and house, yet he is terrified of the horrors and devastation he would unleash on the galaxy through this holy war. Throughout the film, he is shown to have numerous heroic qualities, from his adoration of the Fremen culture and people to his love for Chani (Zendaya). However, in a true Shakespearean fashion, he is unable to let go of his desire for revenge and his deep-seated lust for power that he tries to suppress. Ultimately, he gives into his dark urges and becomes the Lisan al Gaib, unleashing his army of loyal fanatics onto the galaxy and bringing death and destruction to all.

Ferguson’s role as Lady Jessica in this film is lovingly despicable and steals every scene she is in. She channels the authority and confidence needed for a religious spokesperson, as well as unhinged arrogance and a desire to control others that is often found in cult leaders. Her villainous performance is enjoyable to watch on screen, yet at the same time is disturbingly similar to how many religious cults are formed by extremists.

The worst and most bizarre aspect of the film comes from the third conspirator in the manipulation of the Fremen’s faith, Alia Atreus. While Anya Taylor-Joy does a decent, if not memorable, job of playing the character, the problems arise from depicting a character who has not been born yet but can communicate telepathically.

While this problem could be solved by depicting her through a mysterious voice or psychic visions, they chose to depict her through interior shots of her mother’s womb. As much as this movie tries to make it work, nothing takes a viewer out of a movie’s atmosphere faster than a computer-generated image of a talking fetus.

However, despite the CGI abomination that deserves to be terminated, Dune fans, science-fiction lovers and general audiences should be able to follow the movie’s tragic plot and commentary on politics and religion. “Dune: Part Two” can potentially be one of the greatest science fiction movies of the 21st century.

About the Contributor
Michael Cassidy
Michael Cassidy, Staff Writer
Michael Cassidy is a senior communication major. Michael is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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