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In 1975, director Alejandro Jodorowsky began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12-year-old son alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dalí, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including H.R. Giger and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever. Through interviews with legends and luminaries including H.R. Giger (artist, ALIEN), Gary Kurtz (producer, STAR WARS EPISODES IV ' V) and Nicolas Winding Refn (director, DRIVE), and an intimate and honest conversation with Jodorowsky, director Frank Pavich’s film finally unearths the full saga of ‘The Greatest Movie Never Made’.
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As I was watching though this, I was interested but the interviews with the director went on a little too much and it was a bit hard to stay engaged with his over exuberant extolling of his concepts for the film, art direction, concept art, and actors - it all seemed like a stretch and frankly didn't really connect with me.
But - at the end of the documentary, it shifts gears to talk about how many of those ideas I didn't connect with - coming from the directory's own manic, confusing though enjoyable explanations - were later adopted into so many different movies. And it's not as simple as "HR Geiger because famous for Alien..", it shows how specific shots and sequences Jodorowsky had visualized in his own mind and story boarded later were adopted almost frame for frame by other directors in other movies. It made me realize, to a degree, why I never ended up an artistic field, and gave me an vastly increased respect for Jodorowsky, Geiger, Foss, and Moebius. It's not something I would watch twice, but if you are interested in any of the main players in the documentary, or the Dune books, I'd strongly recommend to give it a watch!
One thing that was genius was getting H.R. Giger to design the visual theme of House Harkonnen. Herbert sets Harkonnens up as a morally corrupt and vile society, where a single scene describes slavery, attempted patricide and directly implied deviant acts against children. Lynch demonstrated their corruption through physical deformity and a complete and blatant disregard for human life. I think Giger's visual style was an ideal selection to represent the inhumanity of the Harkonnens.
Jodorowsky himself strikes me as a titanic ego hunting innocent icebergs to molest, and he would have done nothing nice to Frank Herbert's novel--but then again, the movie he would have made would have been so far from the source material as to be a different entity entirely. Sort of like going to see the joint adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" by David Cronenberg and Rob Zombie. (Which strikes me as being much more interesting than the original, but anyway...)
Visually, this would have been a stunning film. There is no other way to describe the costuming, art direction and pre-production work, which is displayed to great effect in the documentary. As is pointed out in the documentary, later films like "Alien" owe a lot to Jodorowsky's Dune, for both bringing new artists into the movie business, and getting the movie business ready for new ideas in art. The talent and skill of the concept artists individually is formidable, and as a group--if their own work were to have been realized--would have made the movie worth watching. Probably with the sound off, the Pink Floyd soundtrack playing separately on your stereo.
One annoyance with the extras: the deleted scenes lack subtitles or other translation.
The documentary itself does what justice for the work as can be done from a distance of 30-odd years. Personally, I would have appreciated more screen time with the concept artists (Chris Foss, H.R. Geiger) than the extended interviews with Jodorowsky (nuts, but in a mostly good way) and his money-man (boring in that special fashion only accountants can achieve). In the way "Lost in La Mancha" gave us glimpses of the Terry Gilliam movie the universe connived to keep from us, this documentary gives voice to the "Dune" we managed to escape.