Written by Old Bluffer 20th Feb 2007
The plot of the science fiction epic Dune is far too complex to do justice to here, so you'll forgive me if I dumb it down even more than David Lynch had to do for this movie...
For the purposes of this review, House Atreides are the good guys, and the Harkonnens are very much the villains.
Both noble houses are at war over control of the desert planet Dune, also known as Arrakis.
The reason the planet is so important is that it is the only place in the known universe where the unimaginably important Spice Melange can be mined - in short, whoever controls Arrakis controls the universe.
At the start of the film, things don't look too bad for Duke Leto Atreides. He has been granted sole control over Dune by the emperor, usurping the Harkonnens in the process. This also gives his armies time to fortify their base, erecting huge energy shields and equipping their forces with ultra-powerful sonic weapons.
It is these sonic weapons which will cost the Duke his life though. Unique to the Atreides forces, these weapons worry the emperor, so he is secretly planning to assist Baron Harkonnen in a sneak attack to regain Arrakis.
Leto isn't entirely unprepared for this, as the Fremen, a people indigenous to Dune have warned him that he has a well placed traitor in his midst, and there has already been one foiled assassination attempt against his son, Paul.
When the scorpion in his tent strikes though, Leto couldn't be more surprised. The reason is that the traitor is Dr. Wellington Yueh, a man seemingly above suspicion because he has passed the very highest levels of Imperial Conditioning, meaning his loyalty should be beyond question.
Nevertheless, the traitor is indeed Dr. Yueh - it appears that Baron Harknonnen has some kind of hold over his wife, thus forcing him to betray his Duke.
Yueh therefore sabotages the energy shield, destroys the stockpile of sonic weapons and captures Leto himself, by hurling a throwing dagger into his chest.
As Leto lies bleeding Yueh explains to him that he had no choice, but that Leto will become the tool for his own revenge. Ripping out one of the Duke's teeth, he replaces it with a false one containing poison gas. Baron Harkonnen will insist on gloating with Leto face to face before he kills him, at which point the Duke merely needs to bite down on the tooth and exhale.
For this service, Yueh promises that he will save Leto's son, Paul; and his love, the concubine Jessica (who is also Paul's mother).
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is without doubt a nasty piece of work, and this is made quite clear by his personal appearance. He is a blubberous, grotesque of a man, with weeping sores all over his face.
When Leto is captured he is beside himself with glee, and does what Yueh predicted by getting up close and personal to gloat.
Unfortunately though, Leto is too close to death to sieze the moment, and bites down on the poison gas capsule too late to kill his nemesis.
He dies in misery therefore, with his only hope that Yueh's plan to save Jessica and Paul was more well thought out than his assassination one!