Although the latest version of Dune includes an astounding range of characters both major and minor, it makes a grave mistake in omitting Feyd-Rautha, the sinister nephew of Baron Harkonnen. Like his older brother Glossu “Beast” Rabban, the young Harkonnen is a powerful figure in his own right, and is quite significant to the novel’s narrative. It’s quite surprising to find him absent from the entire first half of Frank Herbert’s two-part novel adaptation, leaving both his uncle and brother to become the main antagonists and sources of conflict with the Atreides. As compelling as they may be, there’s no replacing a villain like Feyd.
After all, Feyd-Rautha makes notable appearances in other film versions. Most notably, in David Lynch’s quirky and controversial adaptation of Dune in 1984, he’s played by Sting, who finally gave a performance that made the character more dour than menacing. The character also makes a notable appearance in the Syfy-produced miniseries. Whenever he appears, Feyd-Rautha is a major villain, often outshining his uncle and brother. In Denis Villeneuve Dune 2, is expected to star Austin Butler, fresh off his success in the blockbuster biopic elvis, taking his place alongside Stellan Skarsgard’s Baron and Dave Bautista’s Beast Rabban.
Feyd-Rautha is the key to Baron Harkonnen’s plan from the start
In Frank Herbert’s novel, Feyd-Rautha is a key part of Baron Harkonnen’s plan to control the Known Universe. He is cruel and sadistic like his uncle, but he is much more subtle than his older brother Glossu “Beast” Rabban (Dave Bautista in this adaptation). Because of this, Baron Harkonnen hopes to thwart the two as rulers of Arrakis, which in turn will lead the inhabitants of the desert planet to see his youngest nephew as their savior. Given the centrality of Feyd-Rautha to the Baron’s overall ambitions, it is a mistake for the former Dune cut it out altogether. It remains until Part 2 to correct this error.
So, however evil it may be, Of Dunes the powerful baron is also an astute political schemer. He acknowledges the fact that he will not be able to seize the position of Padishah Emperor, which is why he invests so much of his energy into cultivating Feyd-Rautha for the power he wants him to one day wield. Herbert draws attention to how important Feyd-Rautha is to the balance of power within the Harkonnen family. Despite this, Feyd has no innate loyalty to his uncle, and it is only when he actually attempts to assassinate the older man that the latter finally reveals his plot to his nephew, keeping his murderous impulses in check long enough to long enough for them to work together.
Paul’s Dune 2’s story might be weaker without Feyd-Rautha’s install
As well as being a key part of the Baron’s nefarious plans Dune, Feyd-Rautha is also a foil for Paul from the start. Both are scions of their own houses, each bearing the heavy weight of expectation and nobility. In Feyd’s case, the novel makes clear how intent Feyd is on taking all the power he can, no matter who he has to destroy to do so. Indeed, Baron Harkonnen sees him as both a threat and a useful tool to the family’s future, and much of the reader’s understanding of the character of him is filtered through the Baron’s remarks early in the story.
Dune 2 he has to do a lot of work to introduce Feyd, establish his menace as a character, and demonstrate how opposed he is to Paul Atreides. That’s a lot of ground to cover for a single film, even one that’s sure to have a run as long as Dune 2. He will also have to not only continue to develop and elaborate many of the storylines from the first film, but he will also have to show the viewer enough about Feyd so that he can understand his own motivations as a character.
How Dune 2 could still save Feyd-Rautha’s story
Despite Feyd-Rautha’s cut from Dune, there is still a lot of potential in its story. The actor who plays Feyd-Rautha has already shown his formidable acting skills with the performance of Austin Butler in Elvis, which means that he will prove to be a valid and convincing foil for Timothée Chalamet’s Paul. It will be quite fascinating to see these two individuals pitted against each other, as they fight for control not only of Arrakis but of the entire Known Universe as well. Their duel in particular is sure to be the focus of Dune 2, and will allow each character to truly show the other how powerful and indomitable they are.
The first Dune is an epic in every sense of the word, with a sprawling story, powerful performances from its cast, and special effects designed to immerse the viewer in the beautiful yet terrifying world of Arrakis. Given that it only covers roughly the first half of the original novel, it still manages to create a film that is largely satisfying in its own right – adaptation controversy Dune apart from.
In the sequel, viewers will get to see more of the many political schemes that are a key feature of Frank Herbert’s universe. Feyd-Rautha and Paul both have very important roles to play, both on Arrakis and in the Known Universe itself, and their mutual conflict will attract none other than the Padishah Emperor himself. In this sci-fi world, the spice must flow and lives will be lost.
MORE: Why Dune 3 Is Even More Important Than Part 2