What’s inside that box in Dune?

Denis Villenueve’s DuneIt is here and paints an impressive picture of the latest cinematic version of the sci-fi classic. It’s also a fairly sparse picture; long on dunes, short on story.

But there are other options. Dune fans, it’s full of the book’s most indelible moments. One of the most famous being that creepy green box — you know, the one that Timothée Chalamet has his hand inside — and what it contains.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Dune the movie and Dune the half-century old novel.]

Humanity’s test

What’s inside the box? Take only what you need

Oh, no, that’s wrong Sci-Fi franchise.

Technically, there’s nothing inside the box. When Chalamet’s Paul Atreides places his hand inside it, it allows the person holding the box — in this case the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) — to focus their “energy” into creating a sensation of incredible pain.

The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, an old society of women dedicated to shaping humanity’s destiny through politics and eugenics is located in Dune. They’re particularly interested in Paul because of how his existence throws a wrench into their multiple-millennia plan to breed their own pet messiah.

Gom jabbar? I barely know ’ar

Paul and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in Dune 2020 during the box test

Warner Bros. Pictures

The plot begins early in Dune, the Reverend Mother — basically the Bene Gesserit pope — visits the Atreides household to make an appraisal of Paul’s character.

She gives her appraisal in the form a Bene Gesserit assessment of humanity. She places a ritual poisoned pin called a gom jabbar by Paul’s neck, and orders him to put his hand in the box. If he removes his hand, she’ll prick his skin, killing him. He must not allow his instinct to pull away from the hand of others to survive. The idea is to see if Paul’s intellect can win out over his base instincts.

Okay, now there’s one more thing in the box: pain.

Herbert wrote the following: Dune novel, Paul feels the distinct sensation of his flesh being slowly burned away, as his limb is reduced to charred bones — but better to lose a hand than his life. He recites the Litany Against Fear, a Bene Gesserit calming mantra. In the film, Villenueve allows Jessica to say the fateful words instead, to calm herself as she waits for Paul’s test to be over. Litany, the most menacing set of words ever created. DuneThese are the words to help you get started:

You must never be afraid.
Fear is the killer of your mind.
Fear is the small-death that causes total destruction.
My fear will be met.
I will allow it to go through me.
Once it’s gone, the inner eyes will be open to its next steps.
There will never be fear where it has gone. Only I can remain.

In both the book and the film, Paul keeps his hand in the box until the Reverend Mother’s energy is exhausted. In the book, she lets him know that he held out longer than any one else who’s taken the test, because DunePaul wants to let us know that he is an extremely special boy. And when she finally lets him take his hand out of the box, it’s totally fine! This was all an illusion. Ha ha! It’s a lot of fun to have a game with a young boy 15 years old.

Fear is the Mind-killer

But this scene isn’t just a memorable instance child torture. It also pulls together some of Dune’s biggest themes in one of its earliest moments. Bene Gesserit is all about the small moments that make a big difference in how events unfold. A person who can identify the pivot points and perceive potential direction, can take immediate action to change history’s course. But, of course, they have to be able to set aside their short term instincts — like avoiding pain — for longer term goals — like staying alive.

DuneHere is a list of these hinge points. Small personal decisions — some made from logic, others from love — that snowball into a massive change in human history.

It is a good idea, future human space history.

WellFuture human space history with sandworms

Dune, HBO Max

For subscribers, the epic sci-fi story will be available for free on HBO Max starting October 21.

#Whats#box #Dune