The first trailer for Dune: Part Two (sadly, not titled Dune: Part Deunx) dropped today, showing off the return of Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya as desert would-be lovers Paul Atreides and Chani, as well as new cast additions Florence Pugh, as imperial Princess Irulan, and Austin Butler as the bald and browless Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. 


Sting wore a space Speedo to play Feyd-Rautha, we get hairless Austin Butler. We have been cheated. CHEATED!

Hairless Butler

If you thought Dune: Part One was overlong and slow and even downright boring until the last twenty minutes, fear not. Part Two is where all the action is, as Part One stretched out the prologue and introducing the Atreides family—the better to care when they all die, I guess—and their retainers, like Duncan Idaho, and to give scope to the galactic conflict at the heart of the story. Part Two, however, is all about Paul’s revenge plot, his “holy war” against the Harkonnens and the imperial forces who plotted against his family and killed his father. It’s the less boring part of Dune.


The trailer dips a little bit into all that, with Paul’s magical mama saying, “Your father didn’t believe in revenge.” Well, Paul does! And he’s about to do something about it. The trailer also teases Paul’s first ride of a sandworm, and Princess Irulan musing that Paul might still be alive. The trailer also gives us plenty of Zendaya, but don’t worry, this time it’s not a fake out. Now that Paul is residing with the Fremen desert people on Arrakis, she will actually be in the film as a proper character, not just a recurring dream-sequence motif with less than ten minutes of screentime. The trailer makes Part Two look very pretty, with contrasting sequences in color and black and white, and teasing the coming conflict between Paul and Feyd-Rautha. Cool.


But will it still be Orientalist as hell? The first movie—like the books upon which it is based—has a “desert problem”, as the ineffable Roxana Hadadi put it back in 2021. Even in this trailer, they’re sticking with ululating vocalizations in the score that are clearly rooted in Arabic language and music. Denis Villeneuve and his team tried to dial back the MENA/Orientalist underpinnings in Dune, but they were only so-so successful. Frank Herbert, the writer of Dune, was inspired by North African and Western Asian philosophy and religion, so it’s hard to divorce Dune entirely of those influences. 


I don’t expect Part Two will be substantially different on that score, I just wonder if spending more of the film’s runtime in the desert, among the Fremen, and with more talk of Paul’s revenge “crusade” will bring about more criticism than the first film got. There was some talk of the Orientalism around the first film, but we saw much less of Arrakis’s native culture. Now that we’re going to be immersed in it, I wonder how that will play the second time around.