How Dune Shaped the Star Wars Saga


Bene Gesserit and the Jedi

Dune‘s Bene Gesserit, an ancient religious order of women who manipulate and engineer galactic events from behind the scenes, were likely as much of an inspiration for the Jedi (and the Sith) as Akira Kurosawa’s honorable samurai. Operating as spies, religious leaders, and even scientists, the Bene Gesserit’s influence can be felt throughout every corner of the Imperium, even the Emperor’s own halls, and across the Known Universe’s history. Like the Jedi they inspired, the Bene Gesserit are driven by prophecy. They believe that through their actions, they’ll bring about the ascension of their Chosen One, the Kwisatz Haderach.

The Jedi too operate as a multi-discipline religious faction with deep roots within the Republic, but before Lucas fleshed out what the Jedi Order was like in the Prequel Trilogy, the similarities with the Bene Gesserit came down to Force powers. Before Obi-Wan Kenobi used a Jedi mind trick to convince Imperial stormtroopers that Threepio and Artoo weren’t the droids they were looking for, the Bene Gesserit used the Voice to exert their influence on others. Like the Jedi, the Bene Gesserit have superior combat abilities known as the Weirding Way that cannot be matched by most other opponents. They can also sense emotions and whether someone is telling the truth.

Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers can also use the Spice Melange to see the future, the kind of prescience that has long been associated with the Jedi, whether it’s Luke receiving a vision of his friends suffering on Cloud City or Anakin dreaming of Padme’s death during childbirth.

Fremen and Rebels, Sardaukar and Stormtroopers

Comparisons could be drawn between the Fremen and Tatooine’s Tusken Raiders as two cultures living and surviving in the harsh deserts of their home worlds, but the natives of Arrakis play a role in the first book that might also remind you of the Rebel Alliance. They’re the underdogs who rally around Paul to fight Imperial tyranny and win. Of course, the Rebels aren’t a religious faction, but having Luke and the Force on their side probably helped keep morale up during their chilly exile on Hoth.

Meanwhile, the Padishah Emperor has the Sardaukar, his elite force of armored soldiers that serve a similar function as Emperor Palpatine’s legions of stormtroopers. But while the Empire’s troops wear white armor and prefer blasters, the Sardaukar are clad in black, using a mix of blades and laser rifles during combat. Later versions of stormtroopers, such as Death troopers, more closely resemble the Sardaukar.

Baron Harkonnen and Jabba the Hutt

Baron Harkonnen’s perverse cruelty is on display throughout the book, a monster of a man both on the inside and out. Indeed, beyond the grotesque descriptions of his physical appearance, his murderous tendencies and taste for child sex slaves make him one of the most reviled villains in literary history.

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