One of the most important factors in making a major franchise depends on the idea of having a villain. Various franchises depend on this factor because narratives have evolved to such levels that having a great is not the biggest thing anymore. The villain compliments the hero in various ways and this is something that plays a major part in the story as a whole. Marvel gave us one of the best villains in the terms of Thanos for the Infinity Saga and it gave us a chance to witness someone who can challenge the Avengers morally too. Dune is one of the best narratives that has been adapted to a movie now and it has a rather daunting villain with Baron Harkonnen. But people were left to ask – “How did Baron Harkonnen survive Leto Atreides’ poisoning in Dune?”
The story of Dune follows Paul Atreides as he comes to terms with the weight and the responsibility following the attack from the Harkonnen’s. One of the most daunting things about the movie has to be the persona of the antagonist, Baron Harkonnen. The character is visually absolutely scary and manages to take complete focus whenever he is present onscreen. This is majorly due to the way Stellan Skarsgård took on the role along with the way the character is depicted.
In an interview with The A.V. Club during the premier of Dune, Stellan Skarsgård said,
I didn’t look for anything redeeming in [Baron Harkonnen’—I knew his function in this film. My function is to be as frightening as possible. That’s it. There’s no room for any psychology, or sort of diving into, “well, he had a bad childhood,” [laughs,] or, “he wanted to sleep with his mother, but he wasn’t allowed to,” stuff like that.
So, there’s no psychology behind it. You have very little space in the film to just scare the shit out of people—so they remember you in the seas in between, and that Dave and I will be hanging in there back of their heads, threatening throughout the movie, even if they don’t see us.
Leto Atreides Poisons
After the Harkonnens have attacked the House Atreides we see the Baron taking over the place with his men. At the very beginning of the attack, Dr. Yueh paralyzed Duke Leto using a projectile and put a false tooth in his mouth so that he can crush it in his mouth as a means of releasing poisonous gas. Later Leto is put opposite to Baron while the latter tells talks about how he has taken over Arrakis.
Leto seizes the opportunity and when Baron sneaks closer to him he says, “Here I am, here I remain,” and crushes the false teeth. This releases the poisonous gas and we could see its impact in the entire room. Baron moves back as he realizes the gas is affecting him too. Later as the men are cleaning up the room they see everyone in the room dead, including Piter. But they hear a noise and discover Baron in the roof still alive.
How Did Baron Harkonnen Survive?
Considering everyone in the room is dead, we are left to wonder how Baron managed to survive the poisonous gas. We saw Baron Harkonnen activate his shield when he goes closer to Leto and this was one of the reasons why it didn’t have much impact right away. The personal shield slowed down the molecules of the gas and thus prevent most of the gas to come in contact with him. Later, we see him on the roof and this could clearly mean that there was a lesser concentration in the roof and thus it still had a lesser impact. In the book, Baron is actually farther away from Leto and thus he manages to survive the poisoning plus he then escapes into a hidden chamber in the room.
This survival only adds up to the dangerous character that Baron embodies and only goes to show how it will play a major part in the future. There is definitely gonna be a major part where we might see Paul confront Baron Harkonnen. Even though the books do show us that Paul’s sister Alia….. let’s not spoil it.