Breaking Down the Latest DUNE Trailer Shot by Shot

·8 min read

In September of last year, we got our first look at Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. That initial trailer set up the epic world based on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel. And we see even more of the scope in the second trailer, which debuted early Thursday morning. This footage here highlights the journey and dangers a young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) faces after his family moves to Arrakis, a seemingly desolate planet. It… doesn’t look great for House Atreides. After you’ve watched the trailer, hang out with us for a shot by shot breakdown.

And if you consider details from a 1965 novel to be spoilers, then you may want to hop aboard a ‘thopter and get out of here.

Small ornithopters flying over the Arrakis desert
Small ornithopters flying over the Arrakis desert

Warner Bros./Legendary

The trailer opens with a trio of ornithopters winging above the deserts of Arrakis. These lightweight transport vehicles are a common method of transport on the planet, ideal for human transport or light cargo.

Zendaya's Chani in front of the desert landscape of Arrakis
Zendaya's Chani in front of the desert landscape of Arrakis

Warner Bros./Legendary

“My planet Arrakis is so beautiful when the sun is low.”

We hear Chani’s (Zendaya) voice. She’s a Fremen, natives of Arrakis. She has the blue within blue eyes indicating prolonged use of the spice melange. Fremen call this Eyes of Ibad. The spice is a drug and the most valuable substance in the Dune universe. Found only on Arrakis, the presence of the spice has meant trouble for the planet. We see it glitter across the surface of the sand.

Harkonnens landing on Arrakis
Harkonnens landing on Arrakis
Armored Harkonnen troop in swirling sand
Armored Harkonnen troop in swirling sand

Warner Bros./Legendary

Chani discusses the beauty of her planet, but also its hardships. Outsiders come to ravage the world, plundering it for spice. There’s the arrival of House Harkonnen, our story’s villains. We see glimpses of Harkonnen troops harvesting spice and attacking a detachment of Fremen commandos clad in stillsuits, desert clothing designed to preserve moisture on a planet where water is in short supply.

Dave Bautista as Beast Rabban
Dave Bautista as Beast Rabban
Corpses burn in a fire
Corpses burn in a fire

Warner Bros./Legendary

We briefly glimpse Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista) surveying a sea of Harkonnen forces. A pile of burning corpses indicates that perhaps the Fremen’s attack on the Harkonnen spice harvester wasn’t successful.

Someone holding a crysknife
Someone holding a crysknife

Warner Bros./Legendary

And that sure looks like a bloody crysknife. The weapon, forged from the tooth of a sandworm, is sacred to the Fremen.

 Timothée Chalamet looks concerned as Paul Atreides
Timothée Chalamet looks concerned as Paul Atreides
Jason Momoa's Duncan Idaho reassures Paul
Jason Momoa's Duncan Idaho reassures Paul

Warner Bros./Legendary

But then Paul wakes up in his bed on Caladan. So as with the first trailer, Paul is dreaming of Chani and Arrakis. The young Atreides tells Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa), House Atreides’ swordmaster, of his dreams. Idaho brushes off Paul’s concerns. He says, “Dreams make good stories, but everything important happens when we’re awake.” However, Paul is the son of a Bene Gesserit. He has the gift of prescience, and these dreams are not only dreams.

Duke Leto Atreides looks stern with Gurney Halleck in the background
Duke Leto Atreides looks stern with Gurney Halleck in the background
Lady Jessica and Paul in formal dress
Lady Jessica and Paul in formal dress

Warner Bros./Legendary

Next we hear Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) talk about House Atreides. “”We are House Atreides. There is no call we do not answer.” We see Leto gathered with Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) in Bene Gesserit robes and Paul in full dress uniform.

Gurney Halleck and Paul fight while their shields flicker
Gurney Halleck and Paul fight while their shields flicker

Warner Bros./Legendary

During Leto’s voiceover, Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), House Atreides’ master of war, spars with Paul. Holtzman shields flicker around their bodies. The defensive shields surround and protect those wearing them. But the attacks have to be over a certain velocity for the shield to work. Slow attacks can get through. The shield turns blue when the attack is too fast and red when a blow lands.

Gurney Halleck, Duke Leto, and Thufir Hawat in front of the Atreides troops
Gurney Halleck, Duke Leto, and Thufir Hawat in front of the Atreides troops
Spacing Guild behind the Emperor's envoy
Spacing Guild behind the Emperor's envoy

Warner Bros./Legendary

And here’s an envoy of the Padishah Emperor in full dress uniforms. The Padishah Emperor is the ruler of the universe. He’s instructing the Atreides to take stewardship of Arrakis. This sparked Leto’s words about House Atreides’ loyalty. Because no, they really don’t get a choice in the matter. Leto explains they will do as the Emperor says.

At the foreground of the above image is the Judge of the Change, an Imperial officer charged with presiding over the change of planetary Fiefs, among other things. It looks like he’s holding an Imperial contract for Leto. The Spacing Guild, a.k.a. the Guild of Navigators, stands in the background. They have the monopoly on space travel and rely on spice to navigate. In fact, they have to breathe spice gas to survive, hence the helmets.

Lady Jessica with Fremen script over her face
Lady Jessica with Fremen script over her face

Warner Bros./Legendary

The subsequent shots jump ahead to Arrakis with Paul in desert garb and also Lady Jessica standing in a cave with Fremen scripture. Jessica and Paul both go on to spend time with the Fremen. We think this particular shot is from when Jessica takes the Water of Life as part of the ritual to become the Reverend Mother of the Fremen. The substance is actually a toxic bile from young sandworms. If it doesn’t kill the person who drinks it, the bile converts into a narcotic that grants an expanded awareness and conscious. Prescience, Other Memory, enhanced awareness and sensory abilities—those are just some of the effects.

A Fremen in a stillsuit
A Fremen in a stillsuit

Warner Bros./Legendary

Hello, Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun). Paul encounters Jamis, a Fremen of Sietch Tabr, early on and engages him in combat. Here he tells Paul, “Come with me.”

Someone marking a bloody thumbprint on a forehead in a ceremony
Someone marking a bloody thumbprint on a forehead in a ceremony
Upside down bodies in a series of pods in Dune
Upside down bodies in a series of pods in Dune

Warner Bros./Legendary

Then… we think this is Salusa Secundus, a prison planet. This looks like a ceremony of some kind. Maybe prisoners “graduating” to the Sardaukar, the Emperor’s elite military force. And by elite we mean brutal and absolutely awful. However, this could also depict the Harkonnen soldiers on Geidi Prime.

While training Paul, Gurney notes to the youth that he’s never fought anyone like the Harkonnens before. Gurney practically growls about how brutal they are.

Jessica stands with Paul and Dr. Yueh
Jessica stands with Paul and Dr. Yueh

Warner Bros./Legendary

We hear Dr. Yueh (Chang Chen) say, “The Duke’s son sees too much.” This glimpse of Yueh with Jessica and Paul on Arrakis is likely after an assassin failed to kill Paul.

Baron Harkonnen in his harness
Baron Harkonnen in his harness
Piter De Vries clasping his hands
Piter De Vries clasping his hands

Warner Bros./Legendary

We get another peek at the horrendous Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) and also Piter De Vries (David Dastmalchian). The latter is House Harkonnen’s Mentat, basically a human computer. They can use their sharp and powerful minds for good and evil, and if De Vries is aligned with Harkonnen well…

A thopter in front of an explosion
A thopter in front of an explosion
An explosion triggering a shield
An explosion triggering a shield

Warner Bros./Legendary

And disaster. Arrakeen, the city where House Atreides resides, appears to be under attack. Including the destruction of their shield wall. You can see the glow of the shields in the above image. Paul states that the Harkonnens are exterminating them one by one.

Harkonnen troops escorting Dr. Yueh
Harkonnen troops escorting Dr. Yueh

Warner Bros./Legendary

Harkonnen troops escort Dr. Wellington Yueh, and if you’ve read the book, you know what that means. Yueh is the Atreides’ personal physician and a trusted friend.

Lady Jessica in desert garb
Lady Jessica in desert garb
Paul Atreides piloting a thopter
Paul Atreides piloting a thopter
A sandworm looms over Paul and Jessica
A sandworm looms over Paul and Jessica

Warner Bros./Legendary

After we watch Duncan Idaho take on a Sardaukar trooper, we get the most striking shot in the trailer: Paul and Jessica wandering through the desert. They’ve fled the danger in Arrakeen, but in the desert they face something potentially worse: a sandworm. The massive creatures call Arrakis’ desert home and can sense vibrations on the surface as part of hunting prey. Hey, even sandworms gotta eat.

Paul fighting a Fremen
Paul fighting a Fremen

Warner Bros./Legendary

This looks like Paul’s first encounter with the Fremen. Perhaps even his scuffle with Jamis, who has zero patience for outsiders. Particularly not Paul.

A Fremen with maker hooks
A Fremen with maker hooks

Warner Bros./Legendary

Here’s something incredibly cool: a Fremen with maker hooks. They use the hooks to ride sandworms across the surface of the desert. It looks like this Fremen is only waiting for a ride.

Liet Kynes in a stillsuit
Liet Kynes in a stillsuit

Warner Bros./Legendary

Plus a look at Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster). Kynes serves as Arrakis’ Imperial Planetologist. She helps the Atreides get settled and understands the ecology of the desert planet. But something’s happening beyond the surface…

Jessica threatening Stilgar
Jessica threatening Stilgar

Warner Bros./Legendary

While we see these scenes, we hear a conversation between Paul and Leto. Paul asks about his future, doubting that he can be the leader House Atreides needs. Leto, a very good dad, reassures him: “A great man doesn’t seek to lead. He’s called to it.”

We also hear Leto ask Jessica to protect Paul, which she vows to do. While those words ring out, we see this image of Jessica holding Fremen leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem) at an extreme disadvantage. She bests Stilgar in combat.

Duke Leto taking a hit to his Holtzman shield
Duke Leto taking a hit to his Holtzman shield

Warner Bros./Legendary

And big yikes, this shot shows Duke Leto Atreides in custody. His personal Holtzman shield flashes red, which honestly, not the best sign. Nor is the bloody handprint on his left shoulder.

Paul and Jessica with Stilgar and Fremen
Paul and Jessica with Stilgar and Fremen
Paul and Chani kissing
Paul and Chani kissing
Chani and Paul with blue within blue eyes
Chani and Paul with blue within blue eyes

Warner Bros./Legendary

A handful of shots illustrate Jessica and Paul settling into Fremen life. We see Chani and Paul go in for a kiss.

Paul's vision of a religious war
Paul's vision of a religious war

Warner Bros./Legendary

The trailer ends with a jaw-dropping moment. We see an image of Paul in full battle armor, his eyes the same blue within blue as the Fremen. This is a vision of the future that lies before Paul as Muad’Dib, the prophesied leader of the Fremen people, leading his death commandos in an intergalactic crusade against all who stand in his way. While we will likely only see this teased in the form of a prescient vision in Dune: Part One, it is incredible to see it brought to life like this.

Dune arrives in theaters on October 22, 2021.

Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.

Additional reporting by Dan Casey and Matt Caron.

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