Any film adaptation requires adjustments from the original novel. Even if it means ignoring major figures. Spotlight on the three characters that Denis Villeneuve did not keep for the first part of Dune.
“This story is too complex to be told in one opus. (…) Dune is like a taste, an appetizer of the second part which is yet to come, and which will be the main course.” – Denis Villeneuve
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has not yet revealed all of its faces. By opting for a sci-fi cinema saga in several parts – where David Lynch had opted in 1984 for a single feature film and John Harrison delivered in 2000 a mini-series in three episodes – the Canadian filmmaker leaves readers novels in expectation concerning (at least) three essential characters of the universe imagined by Frank Herbert. Emperor Shaddam IV, Princess Irulan and the dark Feyd-Rautha are thus absent from the first opus of the new iteration of the work, in theaters since September 15. Spotlight on these major protagonists that spectators will discover in the sequel …
Feyd-Rautha is the favorite nephew of Baron Harkonnen and the brother of Glossu “The Beast” Rabban (Dave Bautista in the 2021 film): a fighter as handsome as he is dangerous as the master of Giedi Prime has appointed as his successor. In the novel, he appears very occasionally in the chapters adapted by Denis Villeneuve in the first part of his Dune. Designated rival of Paul Atreides on Arrakis (and more broadly in the rest of the Imperium), the character had been embodied by Sting in the Dune from 1984 (pictured left) and by Matt Keeslar in the mini series from 2000 (photo on the right). Mick Jagger was to play the character in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s aborted project.
Emperor Padishah Shaddam IV
Shaddam IV is the one who triggers the events of Dune, by making the political and strategic choice to entrust the management of the planet Arrakis to House Atréides to the detriment of House Harkonnen. A decision that precipitates the downfall of his cousin Leto … and perhaps his own future downfall? The Emperor was portrayed on screen by José Ferrer (in the Dune from 1984, left) and by Giancarlo Giannini (in the Dune from 2000, right). If his power is widely mentioned in the first part of the novel, the character as such ultimately appears very little: unlike his predecessors, Denis Villeneuve adopted this bias for his Dune, by embodying the power of Shaddam IV through his herald (Benjamin Clémentine) then his formidable elite legions Sardaukar. The whimsical Salvador Dalí was to embody the character in the unfinished film by Alejandro Jodorowsky, in exchange for a salary of … 100,000 dollars per minute on the screen!
In the footsteps of Frank Herbert, which introduced certain chapters of the novel Dune by extracts from the historical writings of Princess Irulan, David Lynch used the character (played by Virginia Madsen, left) as the narrator of her Dune in 1984. Camped by Julie Cox (right) in the 2000 mini-series and its sequel The Children of Dune in 2003, the daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV is brought to cross the path of Paul Atréides after the uprising of Arrakis. There is no doubt, therefore, that it will be present in future films by Denis Villeneuve. For the anecdote, it was Amanda Lear who was to interpret the character in the aborted version of Jodorowsky.