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Jodorowsy’s Dune (2013)
The greatest science fiction movie never made.
Filmmaker(s): Frank Pavich

Shot in France, England, Switzerland and the United States, this documentary covers director Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre) and his 1974 Quixotic attempt to adapt the seminal sci-fi novel Dune into a feature film. After spending 2 years and millions of dollars, the massive undertaking eventually fell apart, but the artists Jodorowsky assembled for the legendary project continued to work together. This group of artists, or his “warriors” as Jodorowsky named them, went on to define modern sci-fi cinema with such films as Alien, Blade Runner, Star Wars and Total Recall.

Jodorowsy’s Dune (2013)

The Exuberant Eye

I am glad the man is alive and still making films, though they don’t drive my soul the way some work does. I like that he is aware of parallel narratives, is visual and fearless. His notions of sex and oppression are decoupled from the physical, and that is remarkable.

For my taste, his notion of narrative is less full of irrepressible need and more of butterflies. And they all have to rely on connectives he keeps in his imagination.

So many years ago when I heard of the rumoured Dune project, well, I was interested. If he indeed tapped that material, his weaknesses would be covered, because the whole Dune series is one that integrates the spiritual, political and personal (meaning individual drive).

Now I learn that he roped in the artistic team that later went on to give Alien its edge. And Welles! Also some simple but then famous celebrities were cast in some roles. Seeing the thin excess he put together in his storyboards, I believe the thing would have been a mess.

But now here we have this remarkably well made documentary that gives the film more value than it ever could have had! We have that almost film in many still images. We have the memory of the original book, still strong in many of us.

We have the outer wrapper of an excellent filmmaker in putting the thing together as a narrative.

And we have Jodorowsky’s telling, as if the film were not a project but a child destined to become Jesus.

This manifold narrative is really effective, and the film grows and grows in importance as if it were a fictional but hardly understood celestial character. Destroying the film — he says near the end — gave it more power than it could have had.

As much power as spice flowing through urge without image.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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