Dune’s House Atreides and House Harkonnen Explained

Dune’s House Atreides and House Harkonnen Explained
Dune’s House Atreides and House Harkonnen Explained

Dune’s House Atreides and House Harkonnen are historical enemies who thrive on brutality and hatred for each other. The warring houses have maintained a longstanding feud since the Battle of Corrin with no sign of letting their guards down. As such, the conflict that emanates from the bitterness between the two families forms the premise of Frank Herbert‘s novel which has been adapted into a blockbuster by Denis Villeneuve with the second installment in the works.

Dune was one of the best movies that hit the cinemas in 2021 and Dune: Part Two is expected to replicate or even surpass its success upon its release on November 3, 2023. This follow-up epic science fiction film will explore Paul Atreides’s journey with the Fremen woman, Chani, and her people as he embarks on a revenge mission against those who destroyed his family. Here’s everything to know about the House Atredies and House Harkonnen conflict.

Dune’s House Atreides Explained

Dune's House Atreides and House Harkonnen are enemies

Led by Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) in Dune (2021) House Atreides is one of the the Great Houses of the Landsraad in the franchise. Their leader takes the title of Duke with wealth, atomic technology, and political backing in the imperium at their disposal. Legend has it that the Atreides are descendants of a noble family originally from Greece. The Atreides claim King Agamemnon, a son of Atreus, in Greek mythology as their ancestor.

House Atreides is known to be powerful and the origin of their prominence goes back to the Butlerian Jihad. The House is equipped with war materials, including Swordmasters, Mentats, and Warmasters who lead their army. While planet Caladan was the ancestral home of the Atreides, Duke Leto obeyed the request of Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV to move the House to planet Arrakis, despite suspecting he was walking into a trap. Aside from Leto, other prominent members of the House include his partner, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), their son Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa). After his death, Duke Leto was replaced by his son, Paul Atreides as the leader of House Atreides.

Dune’s House Harkonnen Explained

Dune’s House Atreides and House Harkonnen Explained

Also known as Family Harkonnen, House Harkonnen, is one of the two great families in the Dune universe. The heavily industrialized Giedi Prime serves as the capital of The Harkonnens where their leader – Siridar Baron – resides. Interstingly, House Harkonnen was a House Minor for centuries before they grew their influence through increased production output and reduced expenses. Most importantly, the Harkonnens rose to their influential position by instilling fear and terror in people. A former steward of Arrakis, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen thrives in making people scared of him.

House Atreides and House Harkonnen are the two major forces closest to the Padishah Emperor but unfortunately, they never agree on anything and always battle each other to maintain control of Spice production to expand their horizon and power. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) is the leader of House Harkonnen and a sworn enemy of House Atreides. House Harkonnen is quite the opposite of House Altreides in many ways. The Harkonnens are brutal in going after what they want, flourishing in industrialization and wealth creation.

The Harkonen – Atreides Conflict Explained


It is no news to fans of the Dune franchise that House Atreides and House Harkonnen hate each other and have been in conflict for centuries. The century-old conflict took a turn for the worst when the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV ordered Duke Leto Altreides to move his House to Arrakis where he will reign as the fiefholder. Leto was to take over the position from Baron Vladimir Harkonnen who wasn’t happy about the development. Notably, Arrakis is a harsh planet but the sole source of “spice”, a drug that holds much value in the Dune universe. The drug heightens vitality and awareness and is used by Spacing Guild Navigators to travel through space.

Meanwhile, the Altreides’ arch-enemy, House Harkonnen, had formed an alliance with House Corrino to destroy them. There is also a secret plot by Shaddam to help House Harkonnen to retake Arrakis through the help of his Sardaukar army. With the help of Yueh (Chang Cheng), a Suk doctor working for House Atreides, who betrayed the House by disabling Arrakeen’s shields, the Harkonnens and Sardaukar were able to invade House Altreides. Leto dies in the process while the Baron survives. Overall, the Atreides are the protagonists who want to impart the world positively through cooperation and trade but on the contrary, House Harkonnen is ready to go to any length to grab power by force.

Other Notable Houses In The Dune Universe

Dune army troops

While Dune’s House Atreides and House Harkonnen form the main focus of the Dune franchise, there are actually three notable Houses in the universe. House Corrino which has Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken) as their leader rules the universe and has control over the Sardaukar military force. In essence, House Corrino has unrivaled power. Dune is set at a time when humanity has evolved to embrace a feudal interstellar empire known as the Imperium. The Imperium is run by Great Houses that oversee different planets and these planets also have House Minors within.

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