Is 'Dune' a White Savior Movie?

'Dune'Credit: Warner Bros.
Can you fall into this trope if you're not even from earth? 

The release of the movie Dune has been shrouded in controversy, from the decision to be in theaters and simultaneously streaming, to the decision to only film half first, with the potential to never see the conclusion. 

Now, as the film begins screening for critics and some select audiences before its release, one of the knocks on the original Dune novel has crept its way into the conversation. Is this elaborate story just one huge white savior trope

For the uninitiated, A "white savior" movie is a movie where the story is about a white character stepping in to save a person or people of color from their struggles. While a lot of these stories are period pieces used to talk about racism, some of them are contemporary stories meant to be about deeper understanding, but actually, enforce whiteness as a sort of "messiah" to a class considered to be an "other." 

When Denis Villeneuve was asked about the fact that this is a movie (and a book) about a white civilization landing on another planet with people of color, and telling them how to live, he answered the idea very diplomatically. 

'Dune'Credit: Warner Bros.
Villeneuve told journalists at a recent roundtable, "It's a very important question, and it's why I thought that Dune is when, the way I'm reading it, relevant. It's a critique of that. It's not a celebration of a savior. It's a criticism of the idea of a savior, of someone that will come and tell another population how to be, what to believe. It's not a condemnation, but a criticism. So that's the way I feel it's relevant, and that can be seen as contemporary. And that's what I would say about that. Frankly, it's the opposite."

Without having read Dune, I'm not sure how valid the worries are, but we can confirm the plot is about one planet showing up to collaborate with another. It'll be interesting to see how the film handles these worries and if they arise more directly in any sequels that may occur. For now, it seems like Villeneuve is handling the narrative. 

Dune arrives in theaters everywhere on Oct. 22. 

Let us know what you think in the comments.     

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20 Comments

Here we go again with the woke non-sense...we're going to kill art if we keep going in this overzealous direction that is more akin to authoritarian regimes than it is to open and free societies where an artist makes his/her art freely without impositions from external pressures.

September 10, 2021 at 5:34PM

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Joshua
153

September 12, 2021 at 8:23AM

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Sketkh Williams
StoryArtist
222

Enough with these stupid new made-up phrases, "White savior." Put an end to this bullsh*t

September 10, 2021 at 7:04PM

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Rory S-B
Director
408

“White savior” is a trope that’s existed (and been thoroughly examined) for awhile. Get over it.

September 10, 2021 at 7:22PM

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And the point is, it’s a pile of garbage and time shouldn’t have been wasted on examining said pile of garbage made up by rabid woke warriors.

September 12, 2021 at 10:58AM

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Bishop
237

ThinGs I DoNt liKe OnLy JusT goT MaDe Up ReCeNtLy AnD ARE StUpID

September 12, 2021 at 4:00AM

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No it isn't, Frank Herbert said the reason he wrote Dune was he wanted people to "beware of Prophets".

September 11, 2021 at 2:32PM

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Esprit D Mendoza
Musician/vocalist/artist
13

You guys are making stuff up just to start trouble. Can’t you just leave a good story alone and not make it about something that it’s not. Its a great book and story hopefully a great movie and all you can do is add racism into without ever reading the book. So keep your uneducated opinion to yourself and wait for the movie. Or better yet read the effen book

September 11, 2021 at 6:19PM

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who are you referring to when you say "you guys"?

September 12, 2021 at 4:00AM

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Woke assholes I assume

September 12, 2021 at 10:59AM

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Bishop
237

Dune is a white savior movie, based on a book about a white savior, by a guy who had to create a whole religion so he himself could feel like a white savior. Anyone assuming the idea of a "White-Savior-Complex" is either blinded to the reality they live in, where media celebrates the great white hype first and foremost, or willfully ignorant and acting like that fantasy is their life, whether they're conscious of that or not.

September 12, 2021 at 8:22AM

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Sketkh Williams
StoryArtist
222

Incorrect, the media actually goes out of its way to discredit and malign anything that is ‘white hype’. Case in point this very article; a movie, a piece of art, that is being labeled as racist for daring to have a white protagonist in the story. This is ridiculous to the extreme.

September 12, 2021 at 11:03AM

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Bishop
237

When you look at a painting, do you look at it with through that lens?

For example, when you look at the Mona Lisa, do you think to yourself "this is a white woman who was privileged back then and could afford to have Da Vinci paint her", or do you look at the painting and judge whether you like it or not based on the style, technique, and artistry? If you do the former and not the latter, you have no business judging art.

And if you judge a painting for its style, technique, and artistry then...why do you not judge films likewise instead of through an identity politics lens that has nothing to do with the actual artistry (or lack there of) of the film?

September 14, 2021 at 11:09AM

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Joshua
153

C'mon Josh...
A static image can speak 1000 words, but a motion picture has the ability to perpetuate or change a culture.

It's not about being "woke" as some of these trolls imply, but it is about being conscious and considerate of other social and ethnic groups and the stereotypes they've been subjected to since the conception of motion pictures and media in general.

The fact that people are angry about this article alone suggest a degree of fragility and bias towards their preference. Keep talking, you're saying everything without saying much.

September 16, 2021 at 11:41AM

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L. Michael Lee
Director
1

I’d love to hear the take on fox’s new “Our Kind of People”

September 13, 2021 at 11:05AM

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Aaron Harper
Rental House Manager
342

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And when white savior leaves you get Taliban.

September 14, 2021 at 12:06AM

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Regis.U
Filmmaker
164

The simple fact that the author of this "article" hasn´t read the book wich the movie is based on, nor has watched the film but clickbaits with words like "white savior" says everything you need to know. Woke attention seeking at its finest.

September 14, 2021 at 4:53AM

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In Dune, Paul is an intentional commentary of the White Savior trope; the novel uses the white savior trope but not to give us a white savior. Herbert saw Western society as flawed in its exploitation of non-western cultures. In the book (don't know how this is treated in the new movie) Paul and Jessica talk about how the Fremen culture has been seeded with certain myths and legends by the Bene Gesserit's Missionaria Protectiva that they will have to utilize and leverage to save the Atreides house (not trying to get too spoilery about the movie but the book should be beyond spoiling by now). In some interviews he compares Paul to the main character in "Lawrence of Arabia" and how Paul is an alternative take on the story. Part of the conflict of Paul is that once he has started the "savior" myth to save himself and his family he loses control of it. Part of the sequel "Dune Messiah" is Paul dealing with the horrible costs of starting that ball rolling. He's not a "savior" but an opportunist using a convenient story to save himself and only later seeing the costs and wondering if he did the right thing (short-term gain vs long-term cost).

September 17, 2021 at 12:26PM

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Mike Hodge
Director/Producer/Etc.
156

Garbage like this makes me want to unsubscribe from the newsletter, which is otherwise helpful. The reason movies are horrible today is they're mired in a shallow, idiotic ideology - which often yelps "WHITE MAN BAD!" - instead of exploring universal human struggles and themes. In short, truth.

Race isn't truth. It's a clever lie used to divide.

Also last I checked, Dune isn't set on earth.

September 17, 2021 at 4:24PM

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I don't think Frank Herbert specified the Ethnicity of almost all the characters in the book. One thing that works in print but has issues doing in movies...
Oh and the Atreides are meant to be descended from the Greeks and have Olive skin, so maybe not White saviour as such?

September 18, 2021 at 4:08AM

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