The trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has opened up plenty of questions about the purpose, origin, and powers of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides. The novel Dune, by Frank Herbert, is incredibly dense, and the trailer presents complex concepts and enigmatic moments without much explanation. While this works to build up curiosity and anticipation among viewers, it doesn’t exactly clear up any confusion. The Dune trailer implies that Paul has certain powers and abilities, but what exactly are they, and where do they come from?
Paul has two types of training: Mentat and Bene Gesserit. In Dune, computers, or “thinking machines”, have been replaced with Mentats, human-computers that can complete incredibly complex equations in just milliseconds. Meanwhile, the Bene Gesserit are female super-humans who have prescient visions. Their prescience is limited, however, as they are only able to see brief glimpses into the near future and genetic memories on the female side. To overcome these limitations, the Bene Gesserit focus on selective breeding to create an all-knowing male Bene Gesserit called the Kwisatz Haderach.
Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, is a Bene Gesserit who was ordered to have a daughter. However, she defied this order and had Paul, causing the Kwisatz Haderach to arrive a generation early. Paul is suspected of being the Kwisatz Haderach early on in his life and is subjected to a painful Gom Jobbar test to assess this possibility, but it is not until he relocates to planet Arrakis that his status is confirmed. When Paul joins the Fremen and is exposed to Spice Melange, his prescience fully awakens. He survives drinking the Water of Life - a poison that only the female Bene Gesserit have been able to tolerate. After drinking the poison, his consciousness expands and his prescience is practically perfect - he has now truly become the Kwisatz Haderach.
The Kwisatz Haderach’s abilities are immense and unparalleled in Dune. Known as the “one who can be many places at once,” Paul is privy to an amount of knowledge no one has ever experienced before. Unlike the rest of the Bene Gesserit, he can predict far into the future with accuracy and precision. He is also able to see into the past and present without limitations. Paul is aware of anything that is happening in the universe, no matter where, when, or who is involved. After drinking the Water of Life, he becomes fully omniscient.
While Paul’s powers are tremendous and exciting, viewers most likely will not witness the full extent of them in the first Dune film. The first novel will be split into multiple films, as it is extremely long and dense, and Paul does not fully awaken his powers until about halfway through the novel. Still, audiences will get to experience the excitement of Paul Atreides unlocking these incredible abilities as he adapts to a new world throughout the first Dune movie.