The powerful matriarchal organization that Lady Jessica belongs to instructs its members to acquire various skills. Some of them can be seen in Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation.
If there is a powerful organization in the universe created by Frank Herbert on paper, that is the Well done. This pseudo-religious matriarchal order of spies, nuns, scientists and theologians has managed to enter the political world and be key in the evolution of humanity.
On Dune, the first part of the adaptation of Herbert’s novel directed by Denis Villeneuve, viewers have been able to meet some of the members of this organization. Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), the mother of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is one of them. La Reverenda Madre Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling), who puts the protagonist to the test of Gom Jabbar, is one of the high officials of the order.
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With these characters, in addition, some of the skills in which these women are trained have also been introduced. It is the case of The voice and hand-to-hand combat. But there are also others that have been left out of the film. We tell you about them below:
Bene Gesserit are trained to be able to control every muscle in your body. They are capable of altering blood flow, temperature, heart rate, and level of consciousness. Prana-bindu (breath-muscle) training is intended to control the physical part, but the organization also studies the mental part.
Thanks also to him, the Bene Gesserit can manipulate their internal organs and body chemistry. Thus, the members of the order are immune to poisons – they can change the chemical composition of a substance and eliminate toxins -, control their menstrual cycles and decide the gender of their children.
Their ability in the parana-bindu is put to the test when a Bene Gesserit is about to become Reverend Mother: they must ingest a poison and transform it. If they succeed and make it out alive, they attain high rank within their order.
Within the pana-bindu there is also combat training. The Bene Gesserit are great fighters, as Jessica fights against Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Fremen leader.
This mental ability, that of the simultaneous flow of several lines of consciousness – a kind of mental multitasking – turns the Bene Gesserit into a kind of mentats. The latter are people trained to become human computers. Thufir Hawat (Stephen Henderson) y Peter de Vries (David Dastmalchian) son mentants.
The great intelligence of the Bene Gesserit is the result of the use of this ability together with the Small perception (ability to perceive even the smallest detail) and the Other Memories (be able to access the combined personalities and memories of all your female ancestors).
This is one of the most exploited abilities in Villeneuve’s film. The Voice allows the Bene Gesserit to influence people by giving orders and enforcing them. For this they must use a specific sound frequency.
At the beginning of the film, Jessica tests Paul’s ability – trained by herself in this ability – to use the Voice. The protagonist uses it later to escape alive, along with his mother, from the henchmen of the barón Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) once his father, the duke leto (Oscar Isaac), has died. Paul is also a victim of this power when Reverend Mother Helen Mohiam subjects him to the Gom Jabbar test.
The Bene Gesserit have the talent of determining when someone is lying. They are able to find out whether or not there is truth in someone by studying – through Little Perception – their inflections, changes in tone of voice, body language, and breathing and heart rate.
The Bene Gesserit order is made up of women because, in this way, they can control the genetic lines of the great families of the galaxy. Hence, many of them, like Jessica, are just concubines. That is, women destined to give offspring to high positions within the politics of the empire. The marriage is saved for political ties.
Within this reproductive program, Bene Gesserit are trained in seduction, sexual skills and sexual priming. The best within this last field are known as Printer and they are capable of enslaving a man.