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Friday, May 13, 2016

Jodorowsky's Dune

Two days ago I wrote about Alexandro (or is it Alejandro--I've seen both) Jodorowsky's film The Holy Mountain because I wanted some context to Jodorowsky's Dune, a documentary by Frank Pavich about the surrealist's passionate but futile attempt to bring Frank Herbert's legendary sci-fi novel to the screen.

This is one of those films that is famous for having never been made, like Terry Gilliams' Don Quixote or a bunch by Orson Welles. Jodorowsky had made a couple of films that opened eyes, such as The Holy Mountain and El Topo, and became obsessed with making Dune, even though he hadn't read it (a friend told him about it). He and his producer, Michel Seydoux, somehow obtained the rights (how isn't precisely clear) and Jodorowsky, who tells most of the story, sets about finding his "warriors."

This is a fascinating tale, mostly because Jodorowsky is so fascinating, and you can see why people would go through brick walls for him. He first wanted a visual effects man, and met with Douglas Trumbull, who had done 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Trumbull was too much of a technician for Jodorowsky, and he went instead with Dave O'Bannon, who later would write the screenplay for Alien, which ties in with H.R. Giger, who Jodorowsky also hired (it would have been Giger's first film). Also on board were artists Moebius and Chris Foss.

The cast was equally interesting. To play Paul Atreides, Jodorowsky intended to use his son, Brontis, who was a teenager. But he went far afield for others. David Carradine was cast, as was Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali (who was promised $100,000 a minute, but he would only have a three-minute part and the rest would be played by a mannequin) and Welles himself as the obese emperor. Welles said no until he was promised that he would be treated to dinner at his favorite restaurant every night.

There exists a massive book with Jodorowsky's script and Moebius' storyboards. Those who have seen it say that it may have changed the way we look at movies, It was still influential, as the seeds that Jodorowsky sowed showed up in other films, like Star Wars and Alien. When Raffaela DeLaurentiis ended up with the rights, David Lynch directed. Jodorowsky didn't want to see it, thinking of it all has his, but was finally persuaded to. He was happy to see that the movie was awful.

I've never seen that film, but I did read Dune and just a few clips of that Lynch film do not inspire me to see it. I would have liked to see Jodorowsky's version, which he envisioned as being ten hours long. Thus no Hollywood studio would touch it. They loved the concept, but were wary of the director.

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