Jodorowsky’s Dune

April 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

One of the various movie insiders interviewed for this documentary about the failed film, described it as, “the most important movie never made.”  Based on what I saw, I think it would be hard to argue with that statement.  Alejandro Jodorowsky set out to make a film version of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel in the early 70s.  Until then, the Mexican director had only been known for his very very indie flicks, “El Topo” and “The Mountain.”  They were as weird as early 70s cinema gets, which is to say, a far sight weirder than anything made today (perhaps, Matthew Barney excluded).  His vision for Dune was phantasmagorical: a sprawling, art epic full of mythology, religious implications and outlandish characters who, had they been realized like the set drawings, would have looked something like clown drag-queens.  To play these characters, he had already hired Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, and others.   In true 70s art-house form, he did not intend to tell the story that was in the book (he assumed you could read the book for that) but rather, he intended to take that core story and make his own metaphor, complete with a radically different (and bizarre) ending.  In the same way that Michelangelo and Donatello might choose to interpret the Bible’s story of David in their own ways, he did not feel tied to the original text  in the fanatic way that modern directors do.  Had he succeeded in making this Sci-Fi epic 2 years before “Star Wars,” our entire view of blockbuster cinema might now be radically different.  As it was, never completed, never having shot a single scene or built a single set, the film has arguably gone on to influence “Alien,” “Blade Runner,”  “Total Recall,” “The Matrix” and a host of other films.  Though the documentary was a bit dry in parts, I cannot help but wish the film would be made today, exactly as intended, just to realize a fascinating and radically different vision for science fiction cinema.

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