Movie Review: Jodorowsky’s Dune

(Source: Sony Pictures)

(Source: Sony Pictures)

Light spoilers ahead.

There are three versions of Dune. The one that got made, the one that you envision in your mind after reading Frank Herbert’s novel Dune and the one that Alejandro Jodorowsky could never get made. We’re basically going to steer clear of the first two here. Jodorowsky’s Dune is an amazingly uplifting documentary about a unfinished project and the man behind it. The documentary is directed by Frank Pavich.

Alejandro Jodorowsky (“Jodo” as his friends call him) is the charismatic nuclear mind behind the project and years later there’s still a spark in his eyes as he talks about his pet project. Whether that’s madness, genious or a combination of both is up to you to decide. You can’t help but get worked up about his childish enthusiasm. Jodorowsky is a Chilean director of surrealist theater that went on to create such avant-garde films like El Topo and La Montaña Sagrada. It is after this last film that Michel Seydoux, producer and partner in crime, urges him to make another film about whatever he wants and however he wants to do it. Jodorowsky proposes Dune, the science-fiction epic work of Frank Herbert… without having read it. Relax, he reads it eventually.

So begins a project that will take Jodorowsky to recruit comic book artist Jean Giraud aka Moebius, illustrator Chris Foss, special effects expert Dan O’Bannon, concept artist H. R. Giger, genius Salvador Dali, legendary actor and filmmaker Orson Welles, legendary rock band Pink Floyd among others. It’s an amazing gallery of creative minds from 1975. Chris Foss, Richard Stanley, H. R. Giger, Gary Kurtz and Nicholas Winding Refn appear in interviews talking about of their experience and influence of the almost mythical filmmaker. The result of Jodorowski’s planning culminates in a huge book of storyboards, photographs, designs and notes that he made copies of and had sent to every major studio. Only two copies exist today.

The amazing part of this film is the indomitable spirit of Jodorowski himself, who also became an author, a comic book writer and a spiritual guru. A lot of his concepts and his crew of “spiritual warriors” would go on to work on films and drew inspiration of their time working in his project. Jodorowski himself made other films but never quite forgot his work. Some of his ideas went into his comic books The Incal and Metabarons. Even at 84 years of age he still has the energy and the spark to wish someone, someday, even when he’s gone might consider bringing his own vision of the Frank Herbert masterpiece to life. Spoiler alert: Jodorowski changed a few things from the book.

Wholeheartedly recommended… not just for cinephiles, movie buffs and Dune fans but to everyone who’s ever been crazy enough to pursue an insane dream, regardless of whether you succeeded or failed. Yes, it’s the corniest line but paraphrasing Jodorowski himself, first we look for the spirit… then the technique.

That will do for now.

(Sources: Sony Pictures, jodorowskysdune.com)

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