In the 2000 mini-series of Dune, I noticed that two of the characters, specificly Muad'Dib (while talking to Lady Jessica, in the desert), and Baron Harkonnen (while talking to Emperor Shaddam) rub their temples alot. I was wondering what the significance of this is? I read that it helps to relieve migraines, but is that the reasoning for it in the movie? PS, I found this, but IDK that that explains it, either.

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    Reboot movie? Do you mean the SciFi (SyFy) channel miniseries? Feb 21, 2017 at 0:55
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    As memory serves, I thought it was a bad storytelling way of showing the characters were thinking. Think of how in Lynch's version we hear all the internal monologues. Same idea.
    – Broklynite
    Feb 21, 2017 at 9:48

2 Answers 2


Baron Harkonnen appears to rub his temple more as a nervous tic than anything else, something he does while thinking. He may genuinely have a bit of a tension headache going on, but that's not really the point. The point is that it's a very visible tic.

Paul does not start exhibiting this tic until after he's gone through the Spice Trance. It's the audience's first hint...and then Jessica's...that Paul has access to all the memories, and mannerisms, of all of his ancestry, male and female. It also serves as foreshadowing of what can happen to a less well formed personality who has undergone the trance--what will happen to Alia later on. If even a strong, fully formed personality like Paul can start exhibiting one of the Baron's mannerisms, what does that mean for the "pre-born"?

All of this is John Harrison's effort to show us what Frank Herbert tells us in the novel. There's no in-story explanation for why the Baron does it (e.g. does he really get headaches? Or is it just something to do with his hands while he's thinking?), because it doesn't come out of the novel at all. It's a detail invented for the mini-series to give us a visual thread to follow.

  • This level of attention to details is astonishing.
    – void_ptr
    Feb 22, 2017 at 0:48

While I never paid much attention to it, it is probably a hereditary mannerism - Vladimir Harkonnen is Lady Jessica's father and Paul Atreides grandfather.

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  • @Yasskier Hmm, that's possible, but I'm looking for a more definite answer. Also, who downvoted my question?
    – Hydra119
    Feb 20, 2017 at 22:50
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    @Hydra119 fwiw you don't need to link the profile, just @Yasskier works. The post owner is automatically notified anyway, and that (linking the profile) won't notify somebody if they haven't commented or edited the post.
    – user57650
    Feb 20, 2017 at 23:33
  • @Rikar I know, but I'm not practiced at formatting html, and I simply wanted to see if it would work.
    – Hydra119
    Feb 21, 2017 at 4:44

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