Paul’s Sister In Dune Explained

By Douglas Helm | Published

Dune: Part Two is here and the reviews are glowing while the money is flowing like the spice melange. But if you are just catching up to Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi story in the movies, you may have been confused by the character Alia Atreides aka Paul’s sister. Here’s everything you need to know about Alia, and here’s your spoiler warning for Dune: Part Two and its potential sequels.

The Secret Casting Of Anya Taylor-Joy

Anya Taylor-Joy

Fans were surprised when Anya Taylor-Joy was revealed last-minute to be a cast member of Dune: Part Two, but everyone quickly sussed out that she would be playing Paul Atreides’s (Timothee Chalamet) sister, Alia Atreides. Alia was the one major character in Frank Herbert’s novel whose actor had not been revealed yet, so it wasn’t hard to figure out. But, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is pregnant with Paul’s sister throughout the film and Alia is only seen during Paul’s vision quest as a fully grown person.

Alia Communicates Through Lady Jessica

This is quite different from Frank Herbert’s portrayal of Paul’s sister in the Dune novel, as Alia is actually born shortly after Paul and Jessica are accepted by the Fremen. As in the movie, Lady Jessica undergoes a ritual to become a Reverend Mother and drinks the Water of Life, which ends up giving her unborn fetus the powers and knowledge of a fully grown Reverend Mother. In the movie, Denis Villeneuve made the creative choice to have Alia communicate psychically with Lady Jessica in the womb rather than having Alia shown as a child.

A Child With The Mind Of An Adult

If you’ve read Dune, this choice makes a lot of sense. Paul’s sister is undoubtedly one of the hardest characters in the novel to adapt. This is because Alia’s powers make her an incredibly strange character that talks and acts like an adult, despite being a literal child. It would have been difficult to portray this on screen and have people take the character seriously, so Villeneuve’s choice allows Alia to still be an active part of the film and portray her incredible powers.

Compare this approach to that of David Lynch, director of the 1984 Dune movie, who had Alia as a wise child played by Alicia Witt. The result was off-putting and disorienting to the viewers of an already incredibly complex film.

Alia’s Role Expands In Later Books

It also makes sense to cast a big-name star like Anya Taylor-Joy as Alia. While viewers don’t see much of Paul’s sister in Dune: Part Two, the character plays a huge role in Dune Messiah and the fourth novel, Children of Dune. Although Warner Bros hasn’t officially greenlighted the third film that would adapt Messiah, Denis Villeneuve revealed that he is already writing it, and the film had a huge opening weekend, so the writing is on the wall.

Dune: Messiah

Denis Villeneuve has expressed that he has no interest in adapting any more Dune novels after Dune Messiah. But, Anya Taylor-Joy’s role as Paul’s sister and her star power could be enough for Warner Bros to make Children of Dune without Villeneuve’s involvement. At the very least, it’s possible that we could see a TV adaptation of the novel that stars Taylor-Joy as Alia.

More Of Alia In The Future?

lisan al gaib

In any case, you can see Anya Taylor-Joy make her debut as Alia Atreides in Dune: Part Two. The film also stars Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Florence Pugh, and Austin Butler. You can catch it in theaters now.