Discussion Packet

Dune – Part One (2021) – Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide:

  1. Is Paul’s dad a good caregiver? How does he show support to Paul?
    Caregiver Note: Paul’s father wants Paul to participate in political meetings and prepare to take over his position one day. However, when Paul says that he might not want to do that, his father says, “You’ll still be the only thing I ever needed you to be…my son.” So often in movies we see characters being told they have to follow in their parents’ footsteps- especially when it means inheriting a business or political position. It’s refreshing to see a parent encourage the child to accept the responsibility but also let them know that they love and support them regardless of what they choose to do with their life.
  2. What about his mom, is she a good caregiver?
    Caregiver Note: Paul’s mother on the other hand seems to be very hard on him. The first scene we see of the two of them she is insisting he use ‘The Voice’ to get water rather than just asking for it. She also allows him to be tested by a religious leader, despite knowing this test involves torture. We see her standing outside the room listening to her son screaming without intervening. She believes that he is a messiah and continually tries to force him to accept this destiny she believes he has. Even when they’re in a situation where Paul helps to save her from captors, she still criticizes his skills rather than praising him for helping her. Despite these things however, it is clear that she does genuinely care for him as evidenced by her concern when he is injured and promise to Leto to protect him.
  3. What do you think are qualities a good caregiver should have? How can I best be supportive to you?
    Caregiver Note: Paul’s parents each demonstrate both harmful and supportive caregiving behaviors during the movie. After talking about his relationship with his parents it can be a great way to segue into a conversation about your own relationships. Youth may have trouble articulating what makes someone a good caregiver, especially if they don’t have many positive experiences to draw on. This conversation can also be a good way to get some insight into what children are looking for in a caregiver relationship and how you can best provide for their needs.
  4. What kind of relationship do Paul and his friend Duncan have? What do you think makes a good friend?
    Caregiver Note: Duncan is a very good friend to Paul. He looks out for Paul’s safety by not allowing him to come on a dangerous mission with him, despite Paul’s request to do so. He is also a trustworthy figure and allows Paul to open up to him about his dreams, which he hasn’t felt comfortable telling anyone else about. In the end he even risks his own life and ultimately ends up dying to protect Paul and his family. Through all of their interactions we see that Duncan seems to genuinely care about Paul. He is also upbeat and positive which is a good balance to Paul who is often not. This can be a great opportunity to talk to youth about their own friendships and what qualities they think are important. Children who have experienced trauma often have difficulties knowing who to trust and how to evaluate the intentions of others so it’s important to talk about qualities to look for in relationships.
  5. How do you think it makes Paul feel to find out that his birth was part of a bigger plan of the Bene Gesserit to try to create ‘The One’?
    Caregiver Note: Throughout the movie we see Paul struggling to figure out what his place in the world is. After having just been tortured by a leader of the Bene Gesserit with his mother’s approval he’s likely already feeling betrayed and confused. He then overhears the conversation about how he’s part of a larger plan. This leads him to feeling more confused. Children want to believe that their parents have them intentionally because they want children and love them. It can be very difficult to find out that there are other reasons for their birth such as being ‘an accident’, an attempt to fix relationship problems, or any host of other reasons. Finding out about these situations often leads kids into feeling like they aren’t wanted — this can be especially true for children who are adopted or in foster care. Talking about how Paul feels upon learning about the circumstances surrounding his birth may be a way to start a conversation with youth about how they feel about their role in their own family; whether that’s their birth, foster, or adoptive family.
  6. How does Paul feel about going to Arakkis, a new planet that is very different from his home? Have you ever experienced something similar? How did you feel about it?
    Caregiver Note: When asked, Paul states that he’s very excited to be going to Arakkis. He even tries to go a few weeks early with his friend Duncan. However, we also know that Paul’s been having dreams about Arakkis and the Fremen and is both worried about the danger and feels compelled to find the girl from his dream. Arakkis has a much less hospitable climate than Caladan where he grew up and also is dangerous due to the limited natural resource of Spice which is much coveted by everyone in the galaxy. Then there are the Fremen, the indigenous people who live there and have vastly different customs and lifestyle than the Atreides family. Children who are adopted or in foster care have experienced at least one major environment change in their life when they moved from their birth family to their current living situation. In many cases there have been multiple such moves during their life. This can be a great opportunity to talk about how they felt during these transitional times and the ways that you as a caregiver can help during current and future transitions.
  7. How do the Harkonnen treat the people of Arrakis? What about House Atreides? How do their interactions with the Fremen differ?
    Caregiver Note: The Harkonnen are colonizers who came to Arrakis and for many years hunted and fought with the Fremen over Spice — a resource both groups needed. They treated the Freman as a lesser people, to be conquered and ruled over. Rather than overpowering them like the Harkonnen, Duke Leto wants to find a way to coexist peacefully with the Fremen by forming an alliance with them. He treats them with respect and honors their customs and beliefs. This can be an opportunity to talk about the importance of respecting others’ cultures as well as that teamwork and cooperation are often a better solution than violence.
  8. After Paul has a vision in the tent he screams at his mother, blaming her for his father’s death, even though it wasn’t her fault. Why do you think he does this?
    Caregiver Note: Paul has just learned about his father’s death and is having an extreme emotional response to the grief he is feeling. Often when we are hurt we lash out at those closest to us. It’s not really his mother’s fault that his father is dead or they’re lost in the desert after being abducted but she is there and therefore is the one Paul lashes out at. Use this as an opportunity to talk about the different ways grief may be expressed and what some positive outlets for big emotions are that might be an alternative to anger and hurting others.
  9. At the end of the movie why do you think Paul chooses to stay with the Fremen? Do you think he made the right choice?
    Caregiver Note: Paul’s mother wants him to get off-world, to return home to Caladan but he instead says that he wants to stay on Arakkis with the Fremen. At this point, Paul has lost his father, his best friend, and the life he knew and likely feels he has nothing left to lose. He has also been plagued by visions and dreams of the Fremen girl and the war that is to come. His mother has also repeatedly told him that he is The One and meant for a greater purpose. By staying with the Fremen he is choosing to follow where he feels those dreams are leading him: into the desert. He also believes that this is why his father came to Arakkis: to make an alliance with the Fremen and now he has taken that duty on in his father’s stead.
  10. Do you believe that Paul has a destiny he is forced to fulfill or do you think he has a choice over his actions?
    Caregiver Note: The idea of destiny and prophecy is a big theme throughout the movie. This is mostly just a fun question to discuss the movie but may also offer some insight into how your child thinks about their own life. Experiencing abuse and trauma causes a feeling of powerlessness. Because of this they may relate to Paul and the way he feels like he has a certain role to play based on what he’s been told his destiny is. This can be a way to talk to youth about the choices they make and how the outcomes affect their future. When they’ve been stuck in fight-or-flight mode due to prolonged trauma it can be hard to look at the future or plan for anything beyond the next crisis. It’s important to help kids start thinking about what choices they can make now to help them move toward the future they want.

About the Author: Jenn Ehlers

Jenn is a central Virginia native who received her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012. Since then she has worked for a local mental health agency and the Department of Social Services in various capacities and has been involved in her community’s efforts to create a Trauma Informed Network. Currently Jenn works in vocational rehab and mentors youth in foster care. When she isn’t working, Jenn enjoys writing stories, anything and everything Harry Potter, and spending time with her niece and nephew.

**Transfiguring Adoption is a nonprofit organization seeking to nurture growth in foster and adoptive families by giving a HOOT about their families. Transfiguring Adoption does not intend for its reviewers nor its review to be professional, medical or legal advice. These reviews and discussion guides are intended to help parents to better be able to connect and understand their children who come from traumatic backgrounds.

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