Paul Atreides
Frank Herbert's Dune

Paul Atreides is the main character in the first Dune book and is an important character in subsequent books as well. He is the only son of Duke Leto Atreides and Leto's consort, Jessica. Paul starts the first book as a mature 15 year old. He has never had playmates of his own age - his only companions have been extremely skilled adults. These include Duncan Idaho, one of the finest swordmasters ever; Thufir Hawat, one of the finest mentats ever, and Gurney Hallack, a fine warrior in his own right.

Paul is trained to be a bene gesserit by his mother, a mentat by Thufir, and a swordsman by Duncan. He knows that he will be a constant target for assassination plots and is ever aware of his own safety. The Reverend Mother that comes to see him calls him "Small for his age" but Jessica points out that Atreides grow in their later years. The next day Gaius takes a better look. "Face oval like Jessica's, but strong bones ... hair: the Duke's black-black but with browline of the maternal grandfather who cannot be named, and that thin, disdainful nose; shape of directly staring green eyes; like the old Duke, the paternal grandfather who is dead."

He is very intelligent and mature, asking pertinent questions of Thufir, and talking with his father about the plans and reasons for what they are doing. The adults he runs into are constantly impressed with his knowledge and understanding. When Paul's father is upset with Hawat for the attempt on Paul's life that nearly succeeded, Paul calmly defends Hawat. When Kynes first meets Paul, Kynes thinks, "The young body carried a sense of command, a poised assurance, as though he saw and knew things all around him that were not visible to others." Later Kynes thinks to himself, "the child kept asking adult questions."

On Arrakis, his mother describes him as having "the oval shape of face so like her own. But the hair was the Duke's - coal colored and tousled. Long lashes concealed the lime-toned eyes."

I think they did an excellent job with Paul in this movie. He is after all raised with only adults, trained to be a BG, a Mentat, a swordmaster and a noble all together. His comments and questions are insightful. He gets his best lines from the book and it's right on. I think they do an amazing job of showing him maturing to something most men do not achieve - while not diminishing how mature he was to start with. He's sure of himself and moves forward on his course. The only real deviation is that Chani helps him with the water of life, but I don't think it's a bad thing that he talks with her about something she knows a lot about. She is his love.

He looks about right, though he's supposed to be small for his age. Instead he's taller than Jessica, who is supposed to be a tall woman.

The shield fight with Gurney

Is it just me, or does she resemble Princess Leia in this?

I can't even begin to express how TOTALLY ANNOYING Paul is in the Sci-Fi version. It makes much of the movie almost unwatchable for me. The whole meaning of many scenes is twisted and lost. Let's start from the beginning. Paul is a very mature boy, raised by a strong, charismatic, skilled father and a strong, BG trained mother. Both actively train him in their skills. He is trained by the best swordsman in the world, pretty much. He's ALSO trained to be a mentat. He isn't raised with other kids - only adults. And he is constantly being groomed to take over the power.

Instead, they turned Paul into a disrespectful, whiny brat who has NO respect for anyone. Scenes that explicitly are supposed to be hammering lessons into him instead have him throwing tantrums and stomping off. The worst one is in the beginning when he tells his teacher that he's "not in the mood to fight." This of course is a very immature attitude and he is whipped into shape for it. In the movie though, he says it snidely and stomps off, and the teacher just WATCHES HIM GO. This kind of behavior would NEVER have been tolerated!

Apparently the belief is that the only way we could accept Paul as being strong later is by having him weak earlier - and having all adults around him be completely idiots. Instead, this makes Paul's entire progression both unbelievable and idiotic. How could someone so immature just "learn" maturity on his own? Doesn't that demean all the time and effort the trainers put in to *get* him to that position? And the decisions Paul makes later on to do things DESPITE his training make no sense if you are taught that Paul was immature and undisciplined to start with.

Paul and Chani are strong while Jessica rambles and weeps

Paul and Irulan are now the "wise ones" while the "stupid adults" fight. Yeah, right.

Buy Dune - the book - from

Encyclopedia of Dune Terms
The World of Dune

My Lisa Shea Homepage