Warning: Dune 2021 spoilers!
100% More Bagpipes. Villeneuve says he always envisioned House Atreides to be of Celtic origin, and to underscore “the blaze of colonial pageantry,” as he calls their arrival on Arrakis, in Dune 2021, he uses… traditional bagpipes. They could just have let Josh Brolin play the freaking baliset.
Sparkly unicorn spice. It’s the most valuable commodity in the galaxy, used by the Spacing Guild to produce prescient visions allowing them to chart safe passage between planets. It’s a psychotropic drug that the Bene Gesserit (AKA The Space Witches ™) use to pass on their ancestral memories to one another. It causes Paul (Timothée Chalamet) to see his destiny as the Kwisatz Haderach. When Paul stands in a spice-field in Dune 2021, the stuff swirls around him like a golden glitter maelstrom. Villeneuve made spice more sparkly than a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.
DJ Sardaukar: We didn’t expect a grisly upside-down–crucifixion-and-blood-streaming ritual on the prison planet of Salusa Secundus, a planet David Lynch’s 1984 Dune never visits. We really didn’t expect the Sardaukar soldier throat-singing over the whole rain-soaked, blood-drenched scene. Of course, the entire scene got memed into a Sardaukar rave stat, with DJ Sardaukar twirling glowstix and Piter de Vries (David Dastmalchian) head-bobbing.
Floating Sardaukar. Speaking of Sardaukar, they float in Dune 2021, like white snowflake murder machines. Silent, armored, white, snowflake murder machines.
Baron Harkonnen’s Goo Pool of Healing. In both the Dune novel and in David Lynch’s Dune, Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) is never harmed by Dr. Yueh’s (Chang Chen’s) tooth. Hence, he never needs a tar-like pool of black goo in which to submerge himself like he does in Dune 2021, begging a host of questions: what is that goo? How can he breathe in that goo? Did they have that goo-pool custom built to accommodate his bulk, or was said goo-pool simply sitting around just in case? We can only deduce that said goo isn’t spice related, or he’d be future-tripping.
Worms that don’t look overly… phallic. In David Lynch’s Dune, we’re subjected to nightmare-inducing, super-phallic worms that really go too far in underscoring some kind of complicated metaphor. Villeneuve chucked that idea and instead created blunt-ended sandworms with mouths that look like — oh, nevermind. Bring in a complicated metaphor about Gaia or something.
Byronic, leather-coat-clad Timothée. We thought we’d only see Paul wandering around the desert, not skulking through the hills of Scottish-esque Caladan and brooding Heathcliffe-like over its grass and ocean. But hey, no complaints. The more blowing curls and sad eyes the better.
Arachnophobia. Villeneuve’s icky-creepy techno spider pets look like something that came from the remote-control toy aisle or a horror movie: even odds. But there’s only one click-click-clacking horribly on Baron Harkonnen’s stone floor before Dr. Yueh dies, and two afterwards. Coincidence? Or are they somehow Dr. Yueh and his wife? Obviously, they foreshadow the planet Ix’s techo-creations. But as is: total arachnophobic moment.
Spit-coffee. Why are men spitting into coffee they’re concocting for planetologist Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), Paul, and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson)? Clearly, they haven’t run out of water. Is this a Fremen ritual? Are they mad at Liet? Is this a sign of respect, much like Stilgar “giving the gift of his water” to the Duke (Oscar Isaacs)? We’re only confused.
No Feyd-Rautha. In Lynch’s Dune, the Baron’s scheming nephew, a metaphorical counterpart to Paul and candidate for Kwisatz Haderach status, is played by Sting in a diaper. Villeneuve nixes Feyd completely. When fans saw his cast listing, theories abounded: perhaps in a cinematic masterstroke, Chalamet would play both Paul and Feyd, showing their duality! Sorry, fanboys and girls. But you get a gold star for cleverness.