"I didn't read Dune. But I have a friend who say to me it was fantastic."
After gaining notoriety with his films El Topo and The Holy Mountain, legendary cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky embarked on his most ambitious film project to date, a filmic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction epic Dune. What follows is a documentary depicting the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations as Jodorowsky and his fellow collaborators endeavour, in vain, to make their masterpiece but instead give us the story of the greatest movie never made.
Obviously being a film fanatic any documentary on the subject of cinema peaks my interest, but throw in some science fiction and one of the trippiest directors to ever produce for the silver screen and I’m there with bells on! So with that in mind maybe take the next sentence with a grain of salt. Jodorowsky’ Dune is nothing short of a masterpiece. The documentary, directed by Frank Pavich, is absolutely spellbinding from start to finish. If you’re not familiar with Jodorowsky’s work (do yourself a favour and watch El Topo or the Holy Mountain immediately!) or have no idea what Frank Herbert’s Dune is all about, you need not worry. The Film does an excellent job of bringing the audience up to speed and introducing you to all the key players involved.
As the film progresses we are treated to the almost mad scientist level of enthusiasm Jodorowsky enters into his production with, hiring the best in every possible field to work on his masterpiece. Dan O’Bannon (who would go on to write Alien and Total Recall) as well as brilliant artists HR Giger and Chris Foss (who’s designs for the film are breathtaking) are all along for the ride, with Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd thrown in for good measure. The tales of how Jodorowsky managed to convince both Orson Welles and Salvador Dali to act in the film are without a doubt highlights, as well as forcing his son (who was to play Paul Atreides, the hero of the film) to train in martial arts, everyday for years to prepare for his role. It’s moments like this that start to blur the line of Jodorowsky as a director/evil genius, however he never becomes unlikeable due to his charismatic nature and pure passion for the project and film in general. That’s what this film really is about and Pavich and his crew never seem to forget that, never casting shadows or blame on what would ultimately become a doomed production (the one fault of the otherwise brilliant fellow un-making of film Lost in La Mancha).
The only downfall of this documentary is that it manages to get the audience as excited for Jodorowsky’s interpretation of Dune as the man himself is, only leaving us similarly disheartened with the Hollywood system for not making his epic masterpiece. It’s true that this film will not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you have even the slightest interest in film production or movies themselves, or just watching one man’s unbridled enthusiasm for his work, I can’t recommend this amazing documentary enough.
9 out of 10
Reviewed by Chris Swan