Dune (2021)

image for Dune (2021)

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Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 14 (violence, themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dune (2021)
  • a review of Dune (2021) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 December 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 12–14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 14 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dune (2021)
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science-fiction themes and violence
Length: 155 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), son of the Duke of Caladan (Oscar Isaac), dreams of a distant planet called Arrakis. He sees the endless waves of sand and the spices that float in the air of this dry and desolate place; he sees the cruelty of the Harkonnen who ravage the land and abuse the native Fremen; he sees the greed of the Harkonnen grow in their desperation to control the spice trade, the most valuable substance in the universe; he sees the Fremen warriors try and fail to rid themselves of their oppressors; and he sees a beautiful, mysterious, warrior (Zendaya) leading him through these dreams. When the Emperor sends word that the house of Atreides has been tasked with bringing peace to Arrakis, Paul hopes to help his father bring change to the oppressed planet and govern respectfully. Little do they know that, fuelled by jealousy of the respect and success they have had on Caladan, they have been sent to Arrakis to fail. When the Imperial army joins forces with the brutal and ousted Harkonnen they return to Arrakis with the intension of not only killing off the last of the house of Atreides but of exterminating all the Fremen as well. Meanwhile, with the help of his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and her witchlike powers, Paul finds himself at the centre of an ancient prophecy about a young man who will come to Arrakis to save their people and lead the universe into a time of peace.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Genocide; Intergalactic politics; Subjugation of a nation; War; Betrayal; Witchcraft and prophecies.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Paul has repeated visions of a man being stabbed with a knife.
  • Space ships and people explode and fiery debris rains down upon those still left on the ground.
  • Paul has a vision of his friend falling in battle. It later comes to pass.
  • Paul and a trainer have a sword fight to the death but using protective shields so that neither one of them is actually injured despite the repeated stabbings and slicing at throats.
  • In order to see if he has true inner strength, Paul is tortured by a powerful witch who trained his mother.
  • It appears that the Imperial army has scarified a number of men who are hanging limp while blood runs down a stone channel. The warriors are anointed with blood before leaving to invade Arrakis.
  • Three guards are shot and collapse.
  • A maid is killed by getting stabbed through the chest.
  • The Duke is killed when he checks on the maid and is stabbed by a poisonous hunter-seeker.
  • The city is bombed by hundreds of invading ships that fire on them from above and launch soldiers to destroy the city from the ground. The Duke’s people are caught between two armies both intent on destroying his people. There is fighting, hand to hand combat with swords, the city is on fire and numerous men are beheaded.
  • Paul and his mother are kidnapped and are about to be dumped in the desert for the sand worms to find but they manage to overpower their captors and kill them with their own knives.
  • A doctor’s throat is slit.
  • Soldiers fight on all sides, stabbing, slashing, and killing.
  • A pile of bodies is shown burning.
  • Imperial soldiers plan an ambush in the sand and a friend of Paul’s is killed trying to protect Paul from the onslaught. He fights with everything he has until he is stabbed through the chest and collapses. When the remaining soldiers try to get through the door with a laser he rises once more and attempts to finish the rest of them off before he falls to the ground and dies.
  • A lady is stabbed in the back with a knife. She pounds the sand and a worm approaches to finish her off and to kill her assassins as well.
  • Paul and his mother fly a plane into a sand storm, attempting to escape the soldiers. They crash in the desert and are nearly killed by sand worms before finding a tribe of Fremen.
  • Paul is forced to fight and kill a man in order to secure their place in Fremen society.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Some of the characters look creepy with masks, black lips and eyes that roll to the back of their heads. There are whispery, foreboding voices that sometimes float across the air, menacing and insistent or angry and threatening, along with strange, foreign, chanting sounds.
  • The sand worms invoke fear in all who see or hear of them. They lurk below the sand dunes, are fast and are attracted to sound. Their mouths open up to reveal thousands of sword-like teeth and they are capable of swallowing an entire tank or an aircraft at a time. There are numerous scenes involving these fearsome worms and the panic and anxiety is palpable, especially when Paul and Jessica run for their lives across the dunes towards a rock while a massive worm pursues them. They jump to the rock just as the worm rears up behind them, its mouth open wide revealing a terrifying mass of teeth. These scenes are often accompanied by intense, dramatic, music.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • When Paul is tortured, a poisoned needle is held to his neck while his hand is placed in a mysterious box to monitor the amount of pain he can withstand. Paul cries out in agony and tries to control his emotions. Tears stream down his face as he endures the pain and his mother tries to give him wisdom and strength through her own anguish as she listens to the sounds of his suffering. Some children may be disturbed by the veiled witch who is conducting the experiment as well as by the pain that Paul is being forced to endure.
  • Paul’s father is killed by a hunter-seeker bug that stabs its victim and appears to cause paralysis and death. Paul and his mother are devastated by the loss of his father

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Some Harkonnen kidnappers say that they, “have never had a highborn before”. They allude to raping Lady Jessica in front of her son.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The Duke, while paralysed and close to death is stripped naked and reclined at the end of a dining table while the Harkonnen leader feasts on chicken feet. While clearly naked no genitalia is shown.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Some of the characters take sleeping tablets.
  • The Duke is given a poison tooth which will kill him and anyone close by. He chomps it and everyone in the room is gassed to death with him.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Hell
  • Ass
  • Shit.

In a nutshell

Dune is a science fiction, fantasy film with an excellent cast and a well-developed storyline. Due to the violence and themes it is not a family film but one that will best be enjoyed by teens, mature audiences and sci-fi adventure fans.

The main messages from this movie are that we must rise above fear; that dreams are messages from the deep and that we should not underestimate their power or influence; that greatness is not a destination you achieve but rather a journey you undertake; and that the most powerful asset a kingdom can possess lies in the unified strength of its people.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship
  • Loyalty
  • Honour
  • Helpfulness
  • Ingenuity
  • Resilience
  • Determination.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The persecution and oppression of entire societies and civilizations.
  • Violence as a means to solve conflict.
  • Trying to control the minds and free will of others.
  • Ravaging a planet for its resources with little regard for anything but personal greed.