HOW DUNE INSPIRED STAR WARS
By John Saavedra
The 1965 novel upon which Dune is based also inspired the storytelling of Star Wars, leading to some striking similarities between the two films.
Dune director Denis Villeneuve knew that George Lucas had looked to Paul Atreides’ adventures on Arrakis when crafting the Luke Skywalker story.
“George Lucas was inspired by Dune when he created Star Wars,” says Villeneuve. “As we were making a movie about Dune, we had to negotiate the influence of Star Wars. It’s full circle.”
An early parallel appears between the “dune” planet itself, Arrakis, and Luke Skywalker’s home planet, Tatooine; one has two moons, the other two suns, and they both have lots of sand.
While Dune centers around the spice trade, Star Wars mentions Han Solo smuggling spices for Jabba the Hutt, and both have narcotic associations.
There are obvious “chosen one” aspects to the stories’ heroes, Paul Atreides and Luke Skywalker, and they are both driven by destiny and unlock hidden powers along the way.
The emperor in both stories manipulates players behind the scenes, and each has his own trusted general, Darth Vader and Baron Harkonnen, that kills the father figure of the hero.
The Baron also closely resembles another Star Wars villain: Jabba the Hutt. Not just in his grotesque appearance, but also in his taste for slaves in the Dune novel.
Although Dune’s Princess Irulan didn’t appear in the first film, her importance to Paul in the books is at least as strong as the bond that forms between Luke and Princess Leia.
Like the Jedi, the religious order of the Bene Gesserit in Dune is driven by prophecy, and both practitioners exhibit vocal mind powers.
While the Fremen of Dune and the rebels of Star Wars share a desire for revolt, there’s a greater resemblance between the stormtroopers and the emperor’s elite force, the Sardaukar.
There are so many similarities between Dune and Star Wars that one might even call Lucas’ 1977 blockbuster the first successful Frank Herbert adaptation.