If you recently have traveled in a spaceship from Caladan to Arrakis - through the cinema screens - you’re already inside the universe of Dune. Released in 1965, Dune is originally a sci-fi book, written by the north american journalist and writer Frank Herbert (1920-1986). The novel became a huge success among the critics and the public, and was already adapted to the cinema in 1984. But now, 37 years later, Dennis Villenueve directed another screen adaptation of Dune, which was released in October in the cinemas. It has a whole new proposal, since, although the movie has more than two and a half hours of story, it only adapts around 400 pages of the book, which has more than 600 pages.
Either in the movie or the book, it is possible to see some similarities to another great universe that came after the release of Duna’s book. Spaceships? Different planets? An army with well-prepared soldiers made to fight against the ‘heroes’ of the story? A kind of ‘magic’ ability from whom people can control others? Well, all of this may have different names from one plot to another, but they are all elements from Dune and Star Wars saga as well. The first movie from the galaxy far, far away was released in 1977, more than ten years after Frank Herbert’s book. So there are some discussions around the idea that George Lucas used elements from Dune to build the Star Wars universe.
George Lucas himself already admitted using Duna as an inspiration especially for “A New Hope”. So if you want to check it - and maybe make your own conclusions about it - here are 6 parallels we can make between Duna’s book and movie and the Star Wars saga that you can’t miss while watching (and reading) them.
1- Arrakis x Tatooine
Arrakis: a planet full of dunes (and there we have the name of the movie), lack of water and a unique group of native people. Tatooine: native land of Luke Skywalker, a planet also full of dunes, also with lack of water and guess what: also with a very particular native group. The aesthetics are the same and the concept is as well, and it is impossible not to remember Tatooine while watching House Atreides landing in Arrakis. Even the clothes used by the Tusken Raiders on Tatooine remember the stillsuits used by the Fremen in Dune, and they are both native groups which live among the dunes and know the planet better than anyone else.
Also, these are the planets where the “chosen one” from the stories, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), from Star Wars, and Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), from Dune, establish a special connection: Anakin was born in Tatooine, and Paul became basically a native after moving from Caladan to Arrakis in the beginning of the story.
2- Duncan Idaho x Han Solo
In this case, we are talking about two men that are pretty close to the main character of the story and have no fear of facing any enemies, doesn’t matter how many they are, or who they are. And they also have the same kind of “destiny”. If you watched any of the movies, you know what I mean.
We can’t forget the fact that Jason Momoa, who plays Idaho in Dune’s 2021 movie version, also compared his character to Han Solo, during an interview to The Ellen Degeneres Show: “It's a pretty massive film and I get to be this little—he’s kind of the Han Solo-esque of the group. He's this rogue warrior who protects Timothée Chalamet and serves Oscar Isaac.”
3- Sardaukar x Stormtroopers
There is another important element that connects Dune and Star Wars, that is the fact that both of them happen in the political context of an Empire ruling the galaxy. In Dune we have the Emperor Shaddam IV, and in Star Wars there is Emperor Palpatine, known as Darth Sidious, who rules the galaxy and the political system of the planets.
As every good Empire in the movies, they have a special troop of soldiers who serve the Emperor and its beliefs, helping to fight against the enemies of the Empire - who usually are the main characters of the plot. Dune has the Sardaukar, a group of well-trained men who are the elite military force of the Padishah Emperor, very famous among people due to their superior fighting abilities and cruelty in battle.
If you remembered about Stormtroopers and their black and white uniforms from the Star Wars saga while reading this, you are not wrong. They are also the elite shock troops that work for the Galactic Empire, and are under the leadership of Palpatine. In my opinion, the only difference is that they are less qualified than the Sardaukar, especially in the first movies. Let’s agree that their scope was not the best one.
4- Paul Atreides x Anakin Skywalker
No, Paul Atreides is not from “the dark side of the Force”, but he has actually some traits that seem to be used like references to build the path of Anakin Skywalker.
In Star Wars, people believed since the beginning that Anakin would be the Chosen One, because there was a prophecy among the Jedis that someone, someday would restore balance between light and darkness in the Force - and they believed that Anakin’s destiny was to fulfill this goal.
"A Chosen One shall come, born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored."
In parallel, the son of Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) in Dune is seen as an important figure to the natives of Arrakis, the Fremen, and also to the Bene Gesserit. For the Fremen, Paul is the Lisan Al Gaib, a prophet and savior of the planet that, according to a kind of prophecy, would guide the people from Arrakis through changes for a better life on the planet. For the Bene Gesserit, Paul is the Kwisatz Haderach, a concept that I guess it’s pretty hard to explain in a few words - we could make a whole article only about it - but it was predicted to be a man capable to access memories from the Bene Gesserit ancestors in a way the women could not do.
Therefore, Paul and Anakin are both a kind of a messiah to their people, and have a greater role to play in the story due to this predicted destiny that they are supposed to follow.
5- The Voice x The Force
Beside the characters and scenario similarities, we have the *amazing* and undeniable similarity between the idea of The Voice in Dune and The Force in Star Wars.
In Dune, Paul Atreides receives a complex trainment from his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Fergusson) to develop the abilities of a Bene Gesserit, a kind of women organization who train their body and minds to obtain some kinds of “powers”, that seem even magical to the ones who see it. Mind control is possible to them, so as a mental dialogue with people, both due to the use of The Voice, a different way of talking that enables the manipulation of other people's actions.
Bene Gesserit is, after all, pretty similar to the Jedis, except from the fact that The Force, controlled by them, is more “mystic” and broad: it is an energy field which connects every single thing alive in the universe. Lady Jessica plays a similar role to Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in Star Wars, because they both are responsible for developing the abilities related to the Voice and the Force in the main characters, Paul and Luke.
There is even a famous scene in A New Hope were Obi-Wan uses the Force to convince some Stormtroopers that the droids C3PO and R2-D2 were not the droid they were looking for, and that remembers a lot a scene were Lady Jessica tries to do the same thing with some guys from the House Harkonnen to set her and Paul free after being captured.
6- Baron Harkonnen x Darth Vader
Last, but not least, we have a connection that is only one of the options of parallels between Baron Harkonnen and characters from Star Wars. (Really, there are even comparisons between him and Jabba The Hutt. And it even makes sense in some ways.)
But what we see in the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, leader of the direct enemy of House Atreides in Dune is a figure of the main villain of the movie, that shows up the most during the story and has a “pact” with the Emperor to destroy the Atreides and reconquer the control of Arrakis. In the same way, in the Star Wars universe, Darth Vader is the main villain during the first trilogy and is also related to the Galactic Empire and the dark side of the Force, fighting against the Jedi and Luke Skywalker’s group.