3 Ways the New Dune Movie Hit Differently From the Book

Even in the future, white people reign supreme

Khalid Birdsong


Image created by PopCultArt on Pinterest.

Warning: Dune spoilers ahead.

Why is the chosen one always a white guy?

This thought never entered my mind when I took on the challenge of reading Frank Herbert's mega-sized “Dune” novel.

For years, I wanted to read the book and pushed it away, thinking it would be full of complicated details, songs, and descriptions similar to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy—which I also haven't read.

Early previews of the new Dune movie directed by Denis Villeneuve looked pretty darn sweet, so I was compelled to grab a paperback brick version of the book.

The story was a slow mover initially, but it came to life when the Atreides family got to the planet of Arrakis, and we learned more about the Fremen and sacred sandworms. As the main character, Paul Atreides, bobs and weaves his way into becoming Maud Dib—a messiah, I was excited for him with the help of his mother, Lady Jessica.

You learn to respect the Fremen of Arrakis in the book and their ways and also understand how a fifteen-year-old ex-pat from another planet could end up taking charge.

Sure, the book's comparisons to the Middle East with battles over their version of oil, melange (spice), is clear. Even as a Black man, casting people of color in the live-action movie surprised me.

The new film was gorgeous but didn't feel how I hoped it would for several reasons.

1. I didn't visualize Black characters in the book, but they were in the movie

Dune the book felt more like a story of a family from planet Caladan coming in like a fish out of water and eventually melting in with the people and culture of planet Arrakis. The idea that the Atreides family is white and the Fremen are Black and brown crossed my mind but didn't linger.

You would assume people who live in the heat of the desert would be brown skin from the sun, and maybe because I'm a Black man, I just saw all the characters as brown or pale white in my head. No one felt Black to me.



Khalid Birdsong

Visual artist, teacher, and world traveler. Writing articles to make you smile. Join my newsletter- https://khalidbirdsong.substack.com/