Written by Old Bluffer 20th Feb 2007
Please read the death of Duke Leto before reading this death.
When Paul and Jessica are left to be eaten by desert worms by the Harkonnens, they are given a chance by the actions of the traitor, Dr. Yueh. In their crashed spaceship Yueh has left them with Fremen stillsuits - highly advanced water recyclers, without which death will occur in hours.
Using the stillsuits, and the knowledge that the giant sand worms (up to 450m long!) are attracted by vibrations, they make it to the safety of rock. This rock is home to Sietch Tabr - a Fremen settlement.
Now the Fremen have been waiting untold years for the fulfillment of a prophecy that Paul and his Mother are spookily close to matching. It comes as no surprise at all then that after a brief scuffle before their identify is known, they are both invited to join the tribe.
For no apparent reason though, one of the Fremen takes massive offence at the previous scuffle and challenges Paul to a knife duel (known as tahaddi al-burhan to the Fremen).
The Fremen leader, Stilgar, makes a token attempt to stop this display of inhospitality, but his heart isn't really into it (it must get boring out in the desert, and a good knife fight is always a welcome diversion).
Now Paul is noble-born, and has been taught advanced knife fighting skills since before Patrick Stewart lost his hair, so he stands a good chance against the unwashed Fremen thug. Additionally, a Fremen girl that he has been having saucy dreams about since he learned he was to be visiting Arrakis provides him with helpful strategic advice (he always turns to the right after thrusting, watch for him switching hands etc).
Not to put too fine a point on it then, any betting person would be wagering on the Atreides youth.
Sure enough, Paul despatches the Jamis without any great difficulty and is then introduced to the delectable widow and (less delectable) ginger children.
The corpse is then taken deep into the caves and processed into a respectable amount of litres of fresh water, which Paul is entitled to. I was waiting for him to offer the jug to the ginger kids so they could drink their dad, but this didn't happen.
I've rated this death "Pointless" as it doesn't really serve to advance the screnplay at all. In fact, in Lynch's theatrical cut I don't think the scene appears at all.
In the novel, I seem to remember that there was ample cause for Jamis and Paul to fight to the death, but none of that is established in the film.