Dune’s power of persuasion reveals how terrifying mind control can be


Dune’s voice is uniquely described as a very unnatural technique and reminds audiences how terrifying mind control can be.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Dune, which is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max

Dune has a lot of unique elements that enrich the sci-fi setting in a way that no other franchise has. This includes specific terminology and technologies, as well as a handful of unique abilities bestowed on certain figures in the universe, such as the voice. The representation of the Voice in Dune is one of the most interesting elements of the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel and a good reminder of just how creepy mind control can be.

In the universe of Dune, the Voice is a powerful technique known only to certain powerful figures. It’s an ability that allows the user to manipulate their speech, altering their pitch and tone to force those who hear them to follow their exact orders. Perfected by the mysterious matriarchal order known as the Bene Gesserit, the voice allows the user to more or less gain the upper hand over others and force them into their bidding. It is more or less the Dune Force persuasion version of Star wars, giving the user incredible control over others. The Voice can be used to question and learn the truth from enemies and even order others to do things they might not otherwise have.

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Voice is frequently used in Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the sci-fi classic. In fact, one of the film’s set-up sequences for Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and her son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) are the pair practicing Paul’s voice command. Although he hasn’t perfected it yet, he is able to summon her and try to force his mother to pour him a glass of water at his request. The Voice is billed as an almost otherworldly moment for young Paul, with all other sounds seeming to fade away when he commands it. The jerky nature of its movements suggests how unnatural it is – a body running on autopilot without any of the natural movements that typically define someone’s actions.

Paul later has the voice most definitely used on him by Gaius Helen Mohaim (Charlotte Rampling) as part of a test of his impulse control. He walks over to her despite her protests and doesn’t even seem to fully understand what he’s doing until he kneels down in front of her. It’s a chilling showcase of what mind control would likely look like – not the subtle machinations of telepaths controlling hordes of people, but a completely unbiased and almost mechanical use of the human body. This is an interesting way to play mind control abilities, as it means that there is very little that can be done to stop it and to prevent the victim from killing others and then themselves.

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The Voice is one of the most alien and supernatural elements of Dune, in an otherwise largely human universe. But it’s also one of the most even-handed and frightening elements of mind control depicted in recent memory, along with even other gruesome characters like Jessica jones gruesome portrayal of Kilgrave having a more natural-looking form of control. Voice is one of those elements that could have been difficult to anchor from a cinematic point of view, but remains a truly compelling visual means of presenting a specific element of the universe.

To see the voice in action, Dune is now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

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