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In the title sequence, Chani tells us "At night the spice harvesters land". We see some of them: they look like giant insects.

Harkonnen spice harvester

Later, after House Atreides takes over management of Arrakis from House Harkonnen we follow them on a tour of spice harvesting operations. We see more conventional machines in use, with large crawler treads.

Atreides spice harvester

We're given to understand that the Atreides are taking over spice production as a going concern, which presumably includes the existing plant and machinery. And in any case they will not have had time to develop and field-test new spice harvesters. So why do we not see Atreides using the same equipment as Harkonnen?

2 Answers 2

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It is notable that in the source novel it is stated that the Harkonnens deliberately damaged a lot of spice harvesters to impede Atreidies spice production, forcing them to rely on old unreliable machines. It is possible we are seeing exactly this.

"...less than a half the sandcrawlers are operable, that only about a third have carryalls to fly them to spice sands - that everything the Harkonnens left us is ready to break down and fall apart..." Dune page 106

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    From those 2 images, it appears to me that the Harkonnen and Atreides are using the same carryalls but different harvesters.
    – Batperson
    Apr 13, 2022 at 3:54
  • @Batperson, yes, i stand corrected. I will update my answer
    – skyjack
    Apr 13, 2022 at 4:36
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    This answer reads like you're saying they are the same but then that they are different. The question asks why they are different, and this answer does not seem to respond to that. Can you edit to actually respond to the question and be less confusing? At least remove the parts that say they are the same - they clearly aren't. Apr 13, 2022 at 12:01
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    I think indeed the whole answer is summarised in the last paragraph of your answer: Atreides are forced to to use the older type of harvesters, because Harkonnens have damaged other machines.
    – Yasskier
    Apr 13, 2022 at 21:17
  • answer edited for clarity, hope it reads better now.
    – skyjack
    Apr 13, 2022 at 21:48
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The script matches the events of the novel. When the Harkonnen left, they took most of the more modern harvesters and crawlers with them.

48A EXT. SPACEPORT - MORNING 48A
Several old and rusty HARVESTERS are on repair. Very few CARRYALLS grab harvesters and take off with them.

As compared to

”We will have to take it at the point of the sword,“ Leto said. He turned to Hawat. ”This’d be a good point to report on equipment. How many sandcrawlers, harvesters, spice factories, and supporting equipment have they left us?“

”A full complement, as it says in the Imperial inventory audited by the Judge of the Change, my Lord,“ Hawat said. He gestured for an aide to pass him a folder, opened the folder on the table in front of him. ”They neglect to mention that less than half the crawlers are operable, that only about a third have carryalls to fly them to spice sands–that everything the Harkonnens left us is ready to break down and fall apart. We’ll be lucky to get half the equipment into operation and luckier yet if a fourth of it’s still working six months from now.“

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