The bullfighter grandfather Atreides. What does the bull’s head in ‘Dune’ mean?

The first part of the adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel has introduced this element that appears in the original material. What happened to Duke Leto’s father?

Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s film that adapts the first half of Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, is one of the must-see films of the year. The film, starring Timothée Chalamet, has raised more than 77 million dollars. And that figure is the total of all the territories -Spain is one of them- in which the film has been released in theaters before reaching theaters. HBO Max in the United States on October 22. If you have already seen the movie, you will have noticed that Villeneuve introduces elements of bullfighting: a figure of a bullfighter weathering a bull, a head of this animal hanging on the wall and a portrait of a man dressed in a suit of lights. But where do all these images come from? We will tell you.

In Herbert’s novel it is explained that Paulus Atreides, Paul’s grandfather and father of duke leto (Oscar Isaac), he had as a hobby bullfightingr and that precisely that passion ended his life. Specifically, it was a Salusan bull – from the planet Salusa Secundus and destined for shows similar to bullfighting – who killed him. The bull’s head that the Atreides have hanging on the wall of the dining room of their residence in Arrakis is precisely the animal that ended their lives.

But Herbert goes further in his novel. When the protagonist family is unpacking their belongings in their new home in Dune after leaving their home planet Caladan, a conversation between two characters gives more information about that bull’s head.

In the pages of the book Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) tells Shadout Mapes -the Fremen who becomes the housekeeper of the Atreides on Arrakis- who the horns of the bull still have the blood of Paulus Atreides. To conserve fluid, a fixative was applied to them.

“It’s not dirt, Mapes,” the novel reads when Shadout Mapes tells Lady Jessica that they should clean it before hanging their head. “It is the blood of our duke’s father. Those horns were sprayed with a transparent fixative a few hours after this animal killed the Old Duke.”. In addition, Paul Atreides’ mother also indicates to her housekeeper that the bull’s head and the portrait of Paulus should be hung on opposite walls, facing both objects.

As in Villeneuve’s film, mentions of Duke Leto’s father’s passion for bullfighting in Herbert’s book are scarce. There is only a little conversation between Paul and his father about it. Therefore, it is more than likely that, if Villeneuve succeeds in carrying out the sequel to Dune and finalizing the adaptation of the novel, let’s not see in the second part any reference to this hobby of Paul’s grandfather.

Villeneuve has advanced that if he receives the green light soon, he could start shooting the second part of Dune on 2022. Taking into account the good box office data of the film and that it remains to be seen how the film behaves in the United States and other territories, it already seems a reality that the director will be able to get behind the cameras to continue telling the story of Paul Atreides.