Jodorowsky’s Dune and the passion of filmmaking

Jodorowsky’s Dune is just as much a full blown homage and tribute to the Chilean cult-movie-director, Alejandro Jodorowsky, as it is a fascinating documentary about “the greatest movie never made”.

Documentary filmmaker, Frank Pavich, sits down with Jodorowsky to have the cult-director tell his story. He had just directed El Topo and The Holy Mountain, when Michel Saydoux approached him about a production deal. Jodorowsky was given a green light to make any movie he wanted, and he decided on an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s brilliant Science Fiction novel, Dune. The next two years of his life he dedicated to this project.

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He assembled an unbelievable team of talent, or “spiritual warriors” as said by Jodorowsky, to make his vision come alive. Jean “Moebious” Giraud drew the storyboard, and H.R. Giger even did his first work for a motion picture with Dune. The music was to be composed by Pink Floyd and Magma, while actors like Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and David Carradine agreed to play major roles in the movie. The story is in and of itself fascinating, but it’s Jodorowsky’s passion and enigma that makes the documentary worth your time.

While Hollywood and production companies push movies out the door every week, it’s easy to forget that countless movies never get made. Money is the main focus for said companies, and thus some projects are set aside to make room for others they deem more profitable. It was all mapped out for Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Dune, but when the production companies got involved the project fell apart. Even though he fought them for years, he couldn’t get it through, and this is the reason his version of a Dune-adaptation is called, the greatest movie never made.

As many of you may know, Dune was eventually adapted to a movie, by none other than auteur and artist, David Lynch. Lynch’s movies will forever have a huge backlash, but in this documentary we get to hear Jodorowsky’s opinion first hand. Even though I disagree with him, I can respect his opinion when he says the movie sucks. Without holding Lynch responsible, he says the studio wrecked Dune, and while Lynch’s movie can’t even begin to reach for Jodorowsky’s goal, it is a functional movie.

As much as I love David Lynch, and present him as the golden standard as much as possible, I can’t help but feel like he kicked a wounded dog with his version of Dune. It’s devastating to see and hear Alejandro Jodorowsky talk about it, throughout the documentary, as if it all happened last week. His passion is so strong and unshaken that you will feel both inspired and hit in the face when it all ends. The fact that a man like this couldn’t make his one dream project, because of money, creative differences and a production company who didn’t understand what they had in front of them, is enormously sad.

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For a young Science Fiction-fan, as myself, it is shocking to see how much Jodorowsky’s vision has shaped the history of the genre. Without him bringing this team together in 1975, we wouldn’t have seen the Alien movies. He discovered the Alien-designer, H.R. Giger, and when Ridley Scott directed the first Alien movie, it was with the help of Dan O’Banon, Giger and others from the original Dune-team. Alien has since gone on to inspire other artist, all from movies to video games. In Ridley Scott’s Science Fiction-return, Prometheus, we can even see a few architectural designs copied from Gigers original concept art for Dune.

With Jodorowsky’s Dune, documentary filmmaker, Frank Pavich has invited us to an intimate session with Alejandro Jodorowsky himself, and those closest to him. Bronson and Drive director, Nicolas Winding Refn shares his thoughts on the history of the project, while people like Giger talks about how it was to work with it. It’s a sad, but strongly inspiring documentary that anyone could and should watch if the have any interest in movies.

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Per Morten Mjolkeraaen

Uses words from time to time. Equally inspired and confused by metamodernism.

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