Dune Messiah
2 min read

Dune Messiah

Reflections of Dune Messiah

I've spent the past few days rereading Dune Messiah after watching the second film in theaters. Villeneuve's films has made the books more enjoyable since I can clearly picture the scenes within his visual framework.

I'm curious to see how they adapt Messiah to the screen. Unlike the frenzied pace of Dune, this book is slower and more methodical. The plot is simple, with lots of dialogue revolving around philosophical discussions of government tradeoffs.

One of my favorite scenes, Alia's sermon, provides a representative sample:

"There will be sadness," Alia intoned. "I remind you that all things are but a beginning, forever beginning. Worlds wait to be conquered. Some within the sound of my voice will attain exalted destinies. You will sneer at the past, forgetting what I tell you now: within all differences there is unity." […]

He sensed the restlessness about him. Abruptly, a woman in the mob, someone far down in the nave to Paul's left, cried out, a wordless noise of anguish.

Alia lifted her head and Paul had the giddy sensation that the distance between them collapsed, that he stared directly into her glazed eyes only inches away from her.

"Who summons me?" Alia asked.

"I do," the woman cried. "I do, Alia. Oh, Alia, help me. They say my son was killed on Muritan. Is he gone? Will I never see my son again never?"

"You try to walk backward in the sand," Alia intoned. "Nothing is lost. Everything returns later, but you may not recognize the changed form that returns."

"Alia, I don't understand!" the woman wailed.

"You live in the air but you do not see it," Alia said, sharpness in her voice. "Are you a lizard? Your voice has the Fremen accent. Does a Fremen try to bring back the dead? What do we need from our dead except their water?"

This stuff makes for a good novel, but I suspect that Spaihts will need to take creative liberty with the screenplay to make it palatable for viewers. The introduction of the Bene Tleilax, Spacing Guild, and Face Dancers will give the creative team a monumental challenge. I'm sure they're up to the task.

I'm excited to see how the rest of the franchise turns out. Dune 2 ended slightly prematurely, pitting Chani against Irulan in a conflict that will escalate into the main conflict in Messiah.

I've always thought about the series having two acts. Act I includes Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune. Act II includes God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune.

The books in Act I are contemporary with each other and focus on Paul. Act II is focused on Leto and the timescale of an empire, rather than a single man (...errrr worm).

If the movies can successfully capture the spirit of Act I I'll be satisfied. Seeing Alia's arc will be magnificent, as she is an incredibly tragic and deep character. Like Daenerys Targaryen or Tony Soprano, she inspires both pity and horror; a potent combination.

Until then, we're left rewatching the films and rereading the novels. Or, as Frank Herbert said: “I told him that to endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe.”