Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jodorowsky’s Dune: The Greatest Sci-Fi Movie That You’ve Never Seen?

There have been so many “making of” documentaries produced about classic (and not so classic) movies. But have you ever seen a movie about a film that was never made? Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) is the story of an ambitious attempt to make a cinematic version of author Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction epic in the mid 1970s. Alejandro Jodorowsky, who had directed the cult films El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), wanted to make a fantastic, mind-expanding version of the novel that would push the boundaries of film, and take the viewer’s experience to the next level. This absorbing documentary tells the story of Jodorowsky’s quest to put together the perfect team to make his dream project. That journey led him to enlist such talented artists as H.R. Giger, Moebius and Chris Foss, who worked on the design and look of the film, and Dan O’Bannon (who later wrote the screenplay for Alien) was slated do the special effects.

Jodorowsky envisioned having a cast that included David Carradine, Orson Welles Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali. He also wanted to feature music by Pink Floyd and other bands in the film, with different artists writing music for different characters & planets featured in the story. The documentary features interviews with Jodorowsky, as well as some of the other crew who worked on the project. We also get to see concept drawings, production art & costume designs for the movie. It’s clear that Jodorowsky was (and still is) very passionate about the project, and what he hoped to achieve with it. He also inspired that same dedication in the people who worked on the project with him. This movie would very likely have been an out of this world, visionary piece of work, like no other science-fiction film produced up to that time.

The writer-director also came up with a massive book that featured the storyboards and designs for the film, along with its screenplay. Jodorowsky and his partners went to all the major studios, and sadly no one wanted to co-produce or co-finance the film at the time. Most people who listened to his proposal lauded his unique vision, but thought the film would be impossible to make the way Jodorowsky wanted to. But maybe the world just wasn’t ready for it back then. As you may know, a film version of Dune was eventually produced in 1984, which was directed by David Lynch. The movie was a critical and box office failure. Jodorowsky briefly touches upon his reaction to seeing that version in the film.

While Jodorowsky’s version of Herbert's novel was never produced, you can tell that the experience of working on it left a lasting impression on his colleagues. The final portion of the movie details some of the amazing work that artists like Giger, Foss, O’Bannon and others went on to create. There are also clips from some of the classic films that were either made or influenced by them and their unique visions of the future, including Alien, Blade Runner and the original Star Wars. This is an engrossing story about making films, and the enthusiasm that true artists have for their work.  Jodorowsky’s Dune is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and various download/streaming sites. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer:

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