Fans of Frank Herbert’s seminal 1965 sci-fi masterpiece have longed for a live-action version worthy of shai-hulud. Now Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two has let those book lovers see scenes and characters they’ve always dreamed of coming to life on a big screen with. But no adaptation, even a faithful one, is exactly like its source material. Which moments from this take on Arrakis were different from Herbert’s original story? These are the biggest, most significant changes Dune: Part Two made from the book.

Spoiler Alert

Paul’s Threat to Destroy Spice Forever

Warner Bros./Legendary

In the book, as Paul is bringing the Emperor to heel, he manipulates the Space Guild by threatening to destroy spice forever using the Water of Life. The Guild relies on spice melange and can’t risk that, so they obey his orders.

The movie changes both who Paul threatens and how. Rather than the Guild it’s the Great Houses Paul keeps at bay with the possible annihilation of spice. And rather than water he says he’ll do so using his family atomics.

A Shorter Time Jump

Warner Bros./Legendary

Herbert’s book consists of three parts. The final portion begins after a two-year time jump, during which Lady Jessica’s unusual daughter Alia is born. Dune: Part Two shortens the amount of time that passes between when Paul joins the Fremen and when he kills Feyd-Rautha. It’s less than nine months, as the movie ends with Lady Jessica still pregnant.

Alia Communicates From the Womb

Universal Pictures

Just as in the book, Jessica’s transformation from drinking the Water of Life also changed her unborn daughter. The poison (which a Bene Gesserit sister alters within her body) made it so both mother and child gained the memories of all Reverend Mothers before them. In Herbert’s novel, this leads Alia to be the strangest, smartest, most advanced toddler ever. The Fremen find her very unsettling until they learn exactly why a two-year-old can speak with such wisdom. Villeneuve maintained this aspect by having Jessica converse with Alia’s fetus. Paul also saw his sister (played by Ana Taylor-Joy) as an adult during his coma-like trance after drinking the Water of Life himself.

Paul and Chani’s Son Leto Doesn’t Exist

Warner Bros/Legendary

The shortened time frame of the film also means Paul and Chani did not have a child together. In this regard Dune: Part Two does stay true to one aspect of this book subplot: both movie and novel end without little Leto.

Paul Beckons the Emperor to Arrakis

Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures

In Dune: Part Two Paul reveals to the Emperor he is still alive. He reclaims his title as Duke of Arrakis and summons the Emperor to Arrakis to address him directly. In the novel Shaddam IV arrives on the planet himself to deal with the troublesome Fremen leader known as Muad’Dib who the Beast Rabban has been unable to find.

Gurney Doesn’t Try to Kill Jessica

Warner Bros./Legendary

Dune: Part One omitted the futile hunt for a traitor in the Atreides ranks. In the Dune book and film, Dr. Yueh was the one who aided the Harkkonen attack, but in Herbert’s story Gurney Halleck and Thufir Hawat are led to believe Lady Jessica is the one who betrayed their Duke. When book Gurney reunites with Paul and finds out the young pup’s mother is still alive he tries to kill Jessica. Paul stops him and Gurney offers his life as apology, but neither Paul nor Jessica accept. They knew Gurney was staying faithful to his slain duke.

Paul’s Reason for Drinking the Water of Life

Warner Bros./Legendary

Gurney’s surprise attack on Jessica is the impetus for Paul to drink the Water of Life in the book. The near-death of his mother makes him realizes he needs to see even further into the future if he hopes to defeat the Harkonnen and keep those he cares about safe.

Dune: Part Two changes the specifics behind Paul’s decision to drink the Water of Life, but not the spirit. He finally gives in and agrees to go south to Arrakis (a place he never actually reaches in the book) after visions show Chani and other Fremen dying when he uses atomics on the Harkonnen forces. That way forward is not an option, but without the Water of Life he can’t see the right path to take.

A Gender-Swapped Shishakli

Warner Bros./Legendary

Just like with Dr. Liet Kynes in Part One, Dune: Part Two gender-swapped a Fremen. Souheila Yacoub plays the Fremen Fedaykin Shishakli, who along with Chani raises doubts and concerns about Paul being a Fremen messiah.

The Water of Life Reveals Jessica’s Secret Parentage

Warner Bros./Legendary

Villeneuve opted to hold back a big revelation for his second film. Lady Jessica only learns the truth about her father being the Baron Harkonnen when she drinks the Water of Life and sees the memory of the Reverend Mother taking her as a child. (Paul also learns about his grandfather from the sandworm poison.) In Hebert’s novel, Paul makes this discovery much earlier during his spice-induced desert visions in a tent with his mother.

Dune Book Characters That Are Not in the Dune: Part Two Film

Dune: Part Two omits three important characters from the book.

Thufir Hawat

Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures

Thufir Hawat does not return after appearing (in an already diminished role) in Dune: Part One. In Herbert’s book, Hawat is a major character who is captured by House Harkonnen on Arrakis after the secret attack. Baron Harkonnen then makes Hawat his new Mentat despite well-founded concerns by everyone around the Baron.

While in service to the Baron, Hawat secretly works to undercut the Baron and his chosen heir. He even helps Feyd-Rautha come up with a plan to assassinate his uncle.

In the story’s last sequence the Emperor tries to use Hawat to kill Paul. Instead the Mentat apologizes to Lady Jessica for doubting her and kills himself in service to his true family, House Atreides.


Villeneuve also opted to cut Harah, wife of Jamis. Because Paul killed Jamis in battle, tradition means Harah becomes his servant and Paul takes on responsibility for her children. His decision not to take her as wife instead is a slight, but it does not stop Harah from remaining loyal to him. She cares for his sister Alia, and her love for Alia keeps her safe. Harah refuses to see the strange child as a freak, and she is the one who explains to the scared Fremen why the child is not a demon. Thanks to Harah’s love Alia is accepted.

Count Fenring

Like David Lynch before him, Villeneuve also did not include the Emperor’s only friend, the deadly assassin Count Fenring. In the novel Lady Margot’s husband, himself once a potential Kwisatz Haderach, is sent to Geidi Prime with her to witness Feyd-Rautha’s big arena fight. The Count ultimately refuses to kill Paul at the end of the story despite the Emperor

Jessica Promotes Paul as Fremen Messiah

Warner Bros./Legendary

Dune: Part Two makes it so Jessica is the one who quickly pushes the Fremen to see her son as the Lisan al Gaib, while Paul is fearful of being seen as a messiah. This is inverted from the book, where Jessica initially sees the perils of such a position while Paul uses it to his advantage.

Gurney Gets His Revenge Against the Harkonnens

Warner Bros./Legendary

The Beast Rabban dies off-page in Herbert’s novel during the Fremen attack against the Emperor and Harkonnen forces. When Paul refuses to let Gurney fight Feyd-Rautha in his stead, it prevents the Atreides War Master from getting the revenge Paul promises him.

Dune: Part Two gives Gurney what he always wanted. He stabs the Harkonnen leader, the one who gave him Gurney his scar, right in the throat.

Chani’s Expanded Role and Ending

Warner Bros./Legendary

Just as in the book, Chani and Paul fall in love in Dune: Part Two, where she’s equally as protective of him as her novel counterpart. (In Herbert’s story, she fights on Paul’s behalf without telling him when someone comes to challenge him.) But the movie both greatly expands her role and changes it. She’s a much more important character with more agency instead of primarily existing as an extension of Paul’s story. (Movie Chani is also the child of Dr. Kynes.)

Zendaya’s Chani is also the only Fremen not to accept Paul as the Lisan al Gaib. And unlike in the novel where she tells the Kwisatz Haderach she will remain his concubine even though he’ll marry Princess Irulan, in Dune: Part Two Chani walks away from Paul. She stays on Arrakis while the Fremen board ships to launch a holy war in Muad’Dib’s name.

What will that final change from the book mean for a potential Dune: Part Three? Unless we get some spice to help us see into all potential futures we’ll just have to hope Denis Villeneuve adapts Dune Messiah.

Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on   Twitter and   Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.