What “dreams are messages from the deep” means

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Dune opens with the caption “Dreams are messages from the deep”. Here’s a look at what the quote means and how it relates to the visions in the film.

WARNING! Spoiler for Dunes.

What is the meaning of Denis Villeneuve’s opening message Dunes? The epic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, or at least the first half of it, Dunes is the latest attempt to bring to life the vast scope of the novel, previous attempts such as the 1984 David Lynch sci-fi film and the 2000 miniseries SyFy. Villeneuve’s film is a real sight to behold, the film also delves into metaphysical and esoteric concepts linked to the fate of its protagonist Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet).

The film opens with the caption “Dreams are messages from the depths“, but this receives no meaningful explanation or context. At the same time, Dunes involves many unexplained visions in the mind of Paul Atreides, so it’s safe to assume that the film’s opening message relates to it. The question then is: what do the opening text and Paul’s visions mean together?

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The movie heavily positions Paul as becoming the prophesied figure known as Kwisatz Haderach, so Paul having bizarre and unexplained visions certainly fits into his story. He may also refer to the endless sand dunes of Arrakis itself as “the abyss“, with some of Paul’s visions coming after he was exposed to the mind-expanding spice mix, which is a valuable resource mined by House Harkonnen and later House Atreides from the depths of Arrakis. What’s even more interesting is what Paul’s visions actually show him.



dune trailer breakdown zendaya timothee chalamet chani paul atreides

Paul’s visions do not actually show current events occurring in Dunes, but are more flashes for Paul alongside Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen people. Paul clearly sees visions of the future, or at least the possible future, one of which shows him being stabbed. In a film as complex as Dunesclassifying these visions as “dreams“certainly fits the very surreal feeling of what Paul gets when he sees these unexplained flashes in the future, and the film’s opening caption could, in fact, refer to both Paul and Arrakis as “the abyss.”

With the visions of Paul emerging from the deepest parts of his subconscious mind, this points to him as a depth from which his “dreamsare being born. Meanwhile, with Arrakis as the source of the blend, his visions are made more vivid, and the blend, as the tool that makes this possible, drifting from the literal depths underground of Arrakis.


Even for having adapted only the first half of Herbert’s novel, Dunes is a remarkably dense and thematic science fiction film. Much of the talk centered around the prospects for Villeneuve to tell the second half of the story if the Dunes become a box office hit (though her HBO Max performance is the real bar in that regard.) Hopefully, DunesThe story continues and audiences will be able to delve deeper into the depths of Arrakis and the mind of Paul Atreides.

NEXT: The End of the Dunes Explained

  • Dunes (2021)Release date: October 22, 2021

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