When we think of Hollywood space operas, the first movie that pops into our head will be George Lucas’ Star Wars. Considered way ahead of its time, Star Wars was the first movie that mixed the genre of science fiction, fantasy, and a wild-west genre to give us a unique blend of entertainment. It had aliens, mystical warriors hailing from ancient times, an all-powerful and all-encompassing Godlike Force, battle-ships, and of course – the omniscient fight between good and evil. Despite its many cinematic achievements, one thing we all forget is that Star Wars has most of its elements borrowed from another science fiction-fantasy space opera master-piece. Believe it or not, many prominent things in the universe of Star Wars are stolen from Frank Herbert’s Dune saga.
Arrakis – Tatooine
The most obvious similarity between the Dune and Star Wars universe is the planet of Arrakis and the planet of Tatooine. Both planets are extremely famous and form the origin point of a galactic power struggle. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker hails from the desolate and barren land of Tatooine, a planet located in the very corner of the known regions of the Galaxy. Paul Atreides, is the rightful heir to the planet of Arrakis, yet another desert planet which has extreme strategic value to the Imperium. That is because of the planet’s abundance of the precious Spice Melange. Both Arrakis and Tatooine are central to the story development for the sagas. It was in Tatooine and Arrakis that Luke and Paul realized their true purpose in life – overthrow the Empire’s tyranny and save countless lives.
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Duncan Idaho – Han Solo
Many consider Han Solo to be Hollywood’s original renegade anti-hero. He never plays by the rules, is not beneath using dirty tricks to get the job done, and is more of a lone wolf. He does not actually fit into the mould of a soldier. Jason Momoa, who plays Duncan Idaho in Dune, claims that Idaho is pretty much “Han Solo-esque”. There is a reason why there appears to be so much uncanny similarity. Idaho is a renegade and a womanizer. He is ready to perform cheap shots to take down the enemy. In the Dune universe, he becomes an ambassador to the Fremen, uniting the natives of Atreides to rally under Paul Atreides’ banner. He is central to the overthrowing of the Imperium, just like Han Solo was.
Prana-Bindu – Jedi Bendu
You may not know this but the original name for the Jedi warriors, the users of the Light Side of the Force, were called Jedi Bendu in George Lucas’ original draft for the Star Wars movie. The Jedi Bendu were the Universe’s most respected warriors, known for their use of the Force – an energy that connects all life in the Galaxy. In the animated Star Wars: Rebels series, the term ‘Bendu’ was repurposed to represent Force Sensitive entities that live in the Force. In the Dune Universe, Prana-Bindu is the martial art discipline of having total control over one’s nervous system and musculature. It is a primary tenet of the combat technique used by the Bene Gesserit. The term ‘Bindu’ is a Sanskrit word meaning a dot or the centre. In the human body, it represents the point where energy originates and dissipates at the same time.
Bene Gesserit – Jedi Order
A group of people trained from birth in the art of combat and politics, taught to let go of all their emotions and serve the people using the supernatural gifts at their command, and having powerful connections that go to the highest echelons of the Empire – remind you of something?? We are not talking about the Jedi here. The Bene Gesserit is a powerful faction of warriors that have devoted their life to changing the fate of the universe the way they see fit. They are self-appointed guardians of all life and balance in the cradle of creation. They were probably the ones that influenced the conception of the Jedi Order. Like the Gesserit’s most powerful members are women, the Jedi also have a criterion for membership – only the youngest of children with powerful sensitivity to the Force are allowed to become Jedi Padawans.
The Voice – The Force
The Force is a mysterious nexus of all energies that binds all life in the Galaxy. By accessing, understanding, manipulating, and becoming one with it, a Jedi or a Sith can do wonderful, near Godlike feats. This transient power forms the crux of the power struggle between the Sith and the Jedi. The Jedi use the Force to perform tricks on the mind. One of the Force’s many well-known abilities is its ability of persuasion and mental manipulation. In the Dune Universe, The Bene Gesserit use a similar concept called the Voice. The Voice is a discipline honed via the art of intense mental conditioning. It allows a Bene Gesserit to gain total bodily control over another individual simply by using their power of speech.
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Melange – Kessel ‘Spice’
In the Dune universe, the Spice Melange is the most valuable resource. It allows inter-stellar travel, can grant super-human abilities, and has a host of other uses. The drug is the reason of the fight that engulfs the Dune universe. In Star Wars, the Spice Mines of Kessel harbour vast swathes of ‘Spice’, a drug that is as dangerous as it is powerful. Star Wars did not even find it important to at least give the drug another name. They shamelessly adapted the most crucial McGuffin of the Dune Universe, thinking the fans would not notice. But we did!!
The Imperium – The Empire
Star Wars’ primary arch-nemesis was the Galactic Empire, a ruthless and tyrannical organization that ruled the Galaxy with an iron fist. Controlled by the nefarious Sith, the Empire was the bane of all planets that fell under its jurisdiction. In Dune, we see the interstellar regions are governed by the mighty and evil Imperium. Star Wars and Dune ended up becoming a story where the protagonist becomes the flag-ship figure of a rebellion, leading a campaign to decimate the autocratic government that had tormented the people since time immemorial.
Harkonne Heritage – Skywalker Parentage
One of the biggest revelations of Star Wars as when Luke Skywalker realizes he is the son of Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader of the Galactic Empire. The very person he set out to defeat to avenge his family and save the galaxy turned out to be his own blood. Luke and Leia are thus the children of the biggest and meanest mass murderer the Galaxy has ever seen. In Dune, Paul and Alia realize later that they are actually the grand-children of Dune’s primary villain – Vladimir Harkonnen. Star Wars even stole story elements from Dune. Still think Star Wars is better??
Sandworm – Sarlacc
The Sandworms are the behemoths and the trademark creatures of Dune. They roam the vast desert of Arrakis and attack unsuspecting travellers. Even the mighty Fremen fear these titans. Paul Atreides would gain their trust and then use Sandworms in his fight against the Imperium. In the Star Wars Universe, we see a creature of similar appearance in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Called Sarlaccs, the sandworms of Star Wars are massive, jagged toothed creatures. This was another thing Star Wars ‘borrowed’ from Dune.
Princess Alia – Princess Leia
Princess Leia is a member of the Holy Trinity of Star Wars, the other two being Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. She is the sister to Luke Skywalker, and a vital member of the campaign against the Galactic Empire. Luke and Leia, due to their blood bond, share a very powerful psychic and meta-physical connection. In Dune, Paul Atreides has a sister named Princess Alia Atreides. Like Luke and Leia, Paul and Alia also share a very potent spiritual link that is explored in detail in further story arcs.