Why does Baron Harkonnen Float and Bathe in Oil in Dune?

Why can the Baron “fly” in Dune? Here’s everything you need to know about it.

One of the most eerie characters and chilling figures in the sci-fi saga of Dune is Baron Vladimir Harkonnen who is mostly seen sitting because of his weight. While the reason behind his weight is not shown in the movies yet, there is an interesting reason why he looks the way he does. In this article, we will address some questions that you might have after seeing the Baron float in the Dune movies. Why does Vladimir Harkonnen (played amazingly by Stellan Skarsgård in the newer films) float or “fly” to move around? Why is he bathing in oil and does he have a sickness?

Why does Baron Harkonnen Float in Dune?

why does baron harkonnen float and fly in dune

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen floats because he relies on suspensor belts and harnesses to counteract his immense weight. He cannot do so without help. These are the same anti-gravity devices used to create artificial gravity on spaceships.

These hovering tools are called Holtzman Suspensors – they negate gravity by exploiting the repulsive forces between subatomic particles. So, the Baron’s apparent “flying motion” was a clever illusion crafted by technology, not supernatural powers. This is how the ruthless, power-hungry, manipulative, cruel but shrewd villain can move around, carrying out his devious motives.

How much does Baron Weigh in Dune?

As mentioned in the book, Baron weighs at least 200 Standard kilos, which translates to roughly 440 pounds.

why does baron bathe in oil in dune

Why is the Baron Bathing in Oil in Dune?

The liquid the Baron bathes in in the “Dune” movie isn’t just oil. While it appears oily due to its dark and viscous nature, the creators have clarified it’s a combination of water, oil, slime, and black coloring.

Here are the different reasons behind this specific depiction:

While not explicitly stated in the movie, director Denis Villeneuve mentioned the Baron’s bath being a “healing mud bath” during an interview. This means it helps manage the effects of the poison he was previously exposed to.

The primary reasoning, however, is symbolic. The dark, oily liquid reinforces several key aspects of the Baron’s character. The viscous nature depicts associations with a predator lurking in its den, adding to the villain’s menacing presence. The murky liquid visually represents the Baron’s internal corruption and moral decay. It emphasizes his unnatural physical state, aligning with his overall character portrayal.

What Sickness did the Baron have in Dune?

In the original “Dune” novel by Frank Herbert, the specific disease the Baron suffers from is not explicitly mentioned. The book primarily focuses on depicting him as morbidly obese and suffering from the detrimental effects of his weight, requiring him to utilize anti-gravity technology for mobility.

However, the prequel novel series “Prelude to Dune” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, considered non-canon by some fans but providing additional information, offers an explanation. If you don’t want to know the reason (because it’s not shown in the movies yet), here’s a spoiler alert!

According to the prequel series, the Baron was previously a fit and attractive man. He was poisoned by a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Mohiam as revenge for an act of violence towards her. The poison was specifically chosen to cause slow and progressive illness leading to obesity.

This illness was intended as a cruel punishment that would destroy his physical beauty, which was a source of great pride for him. So, while the original “Dune” remains somewhat ambiguous, the prequel series suggests the Baron’s condition could be considered a deliberately inflicted, degenerative disease impacting his body in a slow and tormenting manner.

For more articles on Entertainment, be sure to check our dedicated category on Gamer Tweak.