Here’s the one thing you need to know about Paul’s visions in Dune: they’re potentialities.
Sometimes the visions come true, as in the fate of Duncan Idaho (Jason Mamoa), as Duncan does indeed perish in a Fremen hallway. Or Paul knowing he’d arrive on Arrakis and meet the mysterious blue-eyed girl, Chani (Zendaya).
Because those events happen as expected, it’s easy for viewers to think all the visions are going to come true. Which is why Paul killing Jamis might throw some people for a loop.
Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun) is the Fremen at the end of Dune who ends up battling Paul to the death. He’s part of a group that includes Chani and Stilgar (Javier Bardem). While the other Fremen are willing to bring Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and Paul into custody and provide temporary shelter, Jamis isn’t having that.
But the duel isn’t the first time we see Jamis. Right before this climactic encounter with the Fremens, Paul and Jessica escape Sardauker warriors by flying a thopter into a dust storm with 800 MPH winds. Just when you think the thopter will fail, killing our heroes, Paul has a vision. It’s Jamis. This mystery Fremen gives a speech to Paul about how to survive in the desert. He’s clearly acting as a mentor. And you have the impression this will be an important person in Paul’s future, a father figure to replace one of the many Paul lost in the Harkonnen attack.
Paul’s actual father, Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) is dead. His battle coaches, Duncan Idhao and Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), are dead. It makes sense he’d encounter a new teacher. Right before the vision starts, ghostly voices even say, “See the friend.” They’re straight up telling Paul: this dude is going to be your friend.
Jamis: The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve…but a reality to experience. A process that cannot be understood by stopping it. We must move with the flow of the process. We must join it. We must flow with it. [Ghostly voice: Let go.]
Heeding this future advice from Jamis to give over to the desert and stop trying to control it, Paul turns the thopter off and lets the storm lead the way. It’s a turbulent, chaotic course. But the advice works! Paul and Jessica make it through a storm that should have killed them.
Shortly after, Paul has a second vision of Jamis. The ghostly voices tell him, once again, to, “Follow the friend.”
Jamis: You have much to learn. And I will show you the ways of the desert. Come with me.
This is why it’s so shocking when Jamis ends up being such a jerk. When Paul and Jamis begin their fight, you’re probably thinking, “We know Paul and Jamis become friends, so this fight won’t actually end with one of them dying. We’re just starting in an antagonistic place to make it even more powerful when the two connect.” Paul even has a vision where Jamis wins after stabbing Paul. It’s easy to think that this vision will come to pass, but Paul survives, gets nursed back to health, and then Jamis begins training him. But, instead, Paul kills Jamis.
That means the vision Paul had of Jamis teaching him the Fremen ways will never come true. Which begs the question: what other visions won’t come true?
This ends up being one of the central tensions of the Dune story: will Paul be a hero or a villain? Both options are on the table. What Paul sees isn’t the definitive future but a potential future based on actions he’s currently taking. For example, full of anger about the death of his father, Paul sees a future where he ends up leading a holy war and the carnage that will cause. That’s the negative version of his potential. What’s the positive version? That’s a mystery left for Dune: Part 2.
This tension—between good visions and bad visions and what will and won’t come true—will, it’s safe to assume, be an important aspect of Dune: Part 2. Which is why Denis decided to end with the death of Jamis. It casts doubt on everything Paul has seen up to this point. We can’t be certain what the future will hold just because of a vision showed something good or something bad.
Denis actually set this up much earlier.
First, in the opening seconds of the movie. You hear the ancient “voice” say, “Dreams are messages from the deep.” We don’t know what the “deep” refers to. It could be something specific to the world of Dune that’s just not introduced in the first film. Or it could refer to the more general idea of aether, of all the mysteries and phenomena humanity hasn’t fully grasped. Either way, dreams come from this strange, secretive, and powerful place. They’re telling us something. Speaking a language we perceive visually rather than audibly. A language not fully understood, only partially gleaned.
Second, when Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling), the Bene Gesserit’s Reverand Mother, tests Paul. After the “hand in the box” sequence, this is the conversation:
Gaius: Tell me about these dreams
Paul: I had one tonight
G: What did you see?
P: A girl. On Arrakis.
G: Have you dreamt of her before?
P: Many times.
G: Do you often dream things that happen just as you dreamed them?
P: Not exactly.
Neither the direction nor the acting necessarily emphasize the final question and answer. There’s no dramatic close-up. There’s no meaningful pause before the delivery. Without something like that, it’s easy for Gaius questions and Paul’s answer to fade into the general intensity of the scene. Especially over the course of a 2.5 hour movie. The same is true for that opening “Dreams are messages from the deep.” These might not be details you pick up on until someone mentions them or you watch the movie a second time.
But what we see is that, very early on, Dune emphasizes that dreams are messages. And that the messages Paul receives don’t always come true. This is, at the beginning, simply theoretics. But by the end, the dreams are far more relevant and prevalent, as they’re no longer about something that’s distant from Paul’s present, rather, they’re part of the here and now. Affecting the choices he makes. They’ve become consequential.
So if you were confused about the Jamis vision, or just generally about Paul’s dreams, hopefully this helped explain what’s going on, how, and why.
If you have more questions or thoughts, please, leave a comment!