Research Output
Step on Me Charlotte Rampling or on Arrakis No One Can Hear You Orgasm
  In Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021), the much-anticipated adaptation of the Frank Herbert series, Charlotte Rampling briefly appears as Mother Helen Mohiam, high priestess of the Bene Gesserit. Veiled in an elaborate costume, it is Rampling’s voice that clearly identifies her to the viewer in this sequence. Rampling’s voice remains astonishingly powerful and sensuous, evoking memories of her previous roles. Seated opposite Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), Rampling commands him to undergo a test, to put his hand in the box that contains only pain. While Paul holds his hand in the pain box, Mohiam holds a poisoned needle to his neck. Able to withstand this test, she praises him for being “able to control his impulses.” Rampling’s delivery is severe, but there is also something very sensuous about her commanding presence and the way that Paul acquiesces to her with only the slightest resistance. Villeneuve’s Dune presents an opportunity to examine how adaptation works beyond the template of text to screen. Drawing on the work of Mckenzie Wark, Jack Halberstam, and Richard Dyer, this paper will examine the adaptative relationships created by the star images of Timothée Chalamet and Charlotte Rampling in their portrayals of Paul Atreides and Mother Helen Mohiam via key markers of their previous performances: vocal performance, facial expression, and bodily postures. This paper will focus on these aspects of performance and how they work to underscore the tension of this scene of sublimated desire via a process of adaptation that is there to be recognized by the attentive viewer and listener.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    21 June 2022

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Artt, S. (2022, June). Step on Me Charlotte Rampling or on Arrakis No One Can Hear You Orgasm. Paper presented at Association of Adaptation Studies annual conference, University of Lisbon, Portugal


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