Dune parents guide

Dune Parent Guide

Told in a grand scale, this novel adaptation is narratively rich and visually exciting.

Overall B+

In Theaters and HBO Max: Paul Atreides has been born to a powerful family and must travel to a dangerous planet to secure the most precious resource in existence. The survival of his people depends on it.

Release date October 22, 2021

Violence C
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B-
Substance Use B

Why is Dune rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Dune PG-13 for sequences of strong violence some disturbing images and suggestive material

Run Time: 155 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The planet Arrakis is an inhospitable and barren desert, full of scorching sands, lethal sandworms, and unspeakable amounts of spice – the hallucinogenic substance which both extends human life and provides the energy for faster-than-light space travel. It is what makes Arrakis one of the most profitable planets in the galaxy, and by far one of the deadliest. The Padishah Emperor has assigned Duke Leo Atreides of House Atreides (Oscar Isaac) to take over the planet from the bloodthirsty House Harkonnen, and to maintain the production and distribution of spice throughout the Empire. While the position holds the potential for incredible wealth, it also puts the Atreides clan at a far greater risk of death, either from the elements, the local population, or one of the other Great Houses, all of whom are vying for power and influence. And for the young heir to House Atreides, Paul (Timothee Chalamet), Arrakis holds the secret to the mysterious dreams he has been having…and to his destiny.

Adapting a novel the length of Dune into a film is always a fraught enterprise. Condensing a story tightly enough to keep audiences in their seats without cutting so much that the story loses coherence is a terrible tightrope to walk. As far as I can tell, director Denis Villeneuve has done a remarkable job.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I haven’t actually read Dune. I do own a copy, but I have a lot more books on my catch-up reading to get to first, so it’s going to have to wait. The advantage of this is that I can tell you that this movie is both accessible and enjoyable for viewers coming to it without any advance knowledge. That is in no small part thanks to Villeneuve, who is, as far as I’m concerned, a genius. His mastery of scale in this film is perfectly suited to a franchise with a reputation as a grand space epic, and “grand” hardly does it justice. Tremendous space craft hover ominously, great cities squat in the desert, and of course, the sands, boundless and bare, stretch to the horizon.

Dune is also surprisingly appropriate for family viewing, at least for families with teenagers. There is a fair amount of violence – to be expected considering the movie is set during a brewing galactic war, but there is little blood or gore. Even better as far as parents are concerned the almost total lack of cussing with only one profanity in the entire film, which in and of itself is a rare feat. The real test for family audiences is patience. The movie is two and a half hours long, although the pacing is good enough that it feels a little shorter. Of course, I had the good fortune to watch it online from the comfort of my office. I’m sure if I had the misfortune to try and survive the film with no bathroom breaks in theatre, that I might have reached a different conclusion.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac. Running time: 155 minutes. Theatrical release October 22, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Dune

Rating & Content Info

Why is Dune rated PG-13? Dune is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of strong violence some disturbing images and suggestive material

Violence: People are stabbed, poisoned, devoured, and blown up. Bodies are seen burning in piles. Some blood is visible. People are chased by giant worms. Bombs and toxic gases are used. People are targeted by remote devices used to inject poison.
Sexual Content: There is one scene containing brief non-sexual male nudity.
Profanity: There is one use of scatological profanity and some crude anatomical terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Spice is technically a hallucinogen, but it is not seen being used or abused recreationally.

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Dune Parents' Guide

Deserts full of valuable elements are hardly limited to science fiction films. How have the wars in the Middle East in the last century reflected that? How do the messages in this film relate to recent events in that region? What does Dune have to say about colonialism?

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Dune is based on a novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. Other sci-fi classics include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brave New World, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Slaughterhouse-Five, Ender’s Game, and A Canticle for Liebowitz.

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Denis Villeneuve has a history of excellent filmmaking including Sicario, Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, and Prisoners. Other high-quality science fiction films from other directors include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars: A New Hope, Blade Runner, Alien, Moon, and Ad Astra.