Designing Dune required mining the past to build humanity’s future

Puncturing the myth of progress has become a preoccupation of contemporary cinema. Regression offers far more interesting material to mine, if the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune is any indication.

The story is set over 10,000 years in the future, and mankind has lapsed into a neofeudalistic social order ruled by a galactic emperor. Great houses jockey for power across solar systems. The lynchpin of the empire is Arrakis, a desert planet that’s the only known source of a powerful drug known as spice. Consuming it extends the life of the user and enhances everything from awareness to prescience; in large enough doses,

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