Movie Review: “Jodorowsky’s Dune” Is A Fascinating Look At A Masterpiece That Was Not Meant To Be


Review by James McDonald

The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

In 1984, David Lynch’s “Dune” was released to the world and performed very poorly at the box office. Almost instantly, director Lynch distanced himself from the film and refused to talk about it in interviews, something he is still adamant on doing today. He previously stated that the producers and the studio put mammoth pressure on him and that he had no artistic control over the movie, as most directors do and was denied final cut on the finished version. Prior to this iteration of Frank Herbert’s bestseller, Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to bring the novel to the big screen in 1975 but with little success. The reason “Jodorowsky’s Dune” is so enthralling, is because it shows you how the infamous artist and director almost got the most ambitious project for its time, and, I think, in general, off the written page and onto the silver screen.

The first thing that would have set this movie apart from David Lynch’s debacle, would have been its cast. Jodorowsky had cast his son Brontis, then twelve years old, in the lead role of Paul and had him train, physically and mentally for two years solid. He wasn’t interested in him becoming like the character, he wanted him to BECOME the character. He learned a vast array of martial arts, judo and samurai skills, something Alejandro later regretted as Brontis spent those two years training like an adult and missed out on being a kid. He then went on to cast Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Orson Welles and the surrealist Spanish painter, Salvador Dali. On top of that, he enlisted the help of Swiss painter and set designer, H.R. Giger, English artist Chris Foss and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon who all went on to work with Ridley Scott on his sci-fi masterpiece “Alien.” The music for the film was going to be provided by Pink Floyd and the French Progressive rock band, Magma.

Listening to Jodorowsky speaking passionately about his doomed project forty years later, made it even more fascinating. It made me wish that someone within the industry would have the balls to pick up this version and film it exactly as it was imagined back in 1975 as it would make for an absolutely astounding piece of film history. Granted, the cast and some of the crew would have to be changed as many of them have passed on since then but the overall feel and technical look of the project, would be one to excite any of the book’s fans and make them forget about the horrendous abomination that was released in 1984. Director Frank Pavich creatively merges a lot of the film’s original drawings, sketches and storyboards and brings them to life using current technology and it gives you a tremendous sense as to how it would look today. If you’re a fan of the book or even David Lynch’s debacle, I would highly recommend this powerhouse of a movie.

In select theaters and the Angelika Dallas on April 11th


James McDonald
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