Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jodorowsky's Dune

Jodorowsky's Dune; documentary, USA/ France, 2013; D: Frank Pavich, S: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H. R. Giger, Chris Foss

After achieving sucess with his cult movies "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain" at various art cinemas, in '74 Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky was given a blank check to make whatever film he wanted to do next. He chose to adapt Frank Herbert's Sci-Fi classic "Dune", even though he never read the novel. Jodorowsky travelled through USA and France and managed to rally an unbelievable team of talents - Orson Welles, Pink Floyd, Salvador Dali, Moebius, H.R. Giger and Mick Jagger - and had a storyboard ready for filming. 15 million $ were allocated for the film, but it was still 5 million $ too short. Unfortunately, no film studio was willing to finance the film and thus "Dune" was never made, though Lynch made an abridged version a decade later.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's never completed film adaptation of "Dune" is one of most famous cinema genocides of the 20th century, a tragedy that from today's perspective only makes the viewers wonder why such a passionate project was abandoned. Though, not completely, since Lynch was allowed to direct "Dune" in '84, but not according to Jodorowsky's wishes - and very little to Herbert's wishes, as well. Frank Pavich's documentary about this case is thus a bullseye, and at least gives a small glimpse of storyboards and sketches of what this epic could have been: one of the most fascinating moments could have been the opening zoom from a Galaxy to the Dune planet, intended to be filmmed in one take (!), which would have smashed a cinema record in ambition. Truth be told, Jodorowsky may have been a tiny bit too bizarre and surreal of an artist for this film, and some sketches reveal this (the bizarre torture sequence of Leto who was suppose to be "cut off" into pieces; Jodorowsky's 12-year old son would have been too young to play the mature Paul Atreides...), but still, the story seems to have served as a more moderate influence about spirituality than his previous experimental films and could have been the "Star Wars" before "Star Wars". Had they made "Dune" in the 70s, it would have been a movie legend. Numerous people give interviews and reveal their take on this, which is compelling and gives the documentary weight - for instance, someone rightfully says that this is the only example till date that a movie project came so far without actually getting made - and Jodorowsky gives a few humorous comments as well. Overall, a very good chronology of events that speaks about the tremendous injustice done towards a dream, but a dream that was still strong enough to have influence on film even to this day.


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