Dune, Nietzsche and the power of religion

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“God is dead… And we have killed him”, writes Nietzsche. But Paul Atreides, Muad’Dib, lives. Frank Herbert’s Dune novels have made a blockbuster return with Denis Villeneuve’s latest film adaptation featuring Timothée Chalamet. And where Dune returns, Nietzsche returns with it, and in particular, Nietzsche’s critique of the power of religion, writes Kevin S. Decker. Frank Herbert’s Dune is a space opera treasure trove, and its sequels show it to also be a Pandora’s Box of long games and latent surprises. Director Denis Villeneuve’s latest adaptation of the Duniverse, released in 2021, allows us to explore so many things—survival, honor, deep ecology, strategy, weird psychic and physical capabilities, psychology, gender, prophecy, religion. In particular, it showcases how cultures retain traces we recognize despite their mutation over millennia—the stories of the great houses of the Landsraad, the Emperors, and the God Empero…

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