Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jodorowsky's Dune

I can’t remember exactly how far into our relationship the question was asked, but I do know that it was within the first few months.

“So have you read Dune?” My yet to be husband asked.

“Dune? No, I haven’t ,” I replied.

“You should read it, it is really good. You would love it.”

Being an overworked and overwhelmed college student at the time, I had not even a minute for pleasure reading, but I was able to carve out time that summer to read the first three books in the Dune series.  

He was right. I loved it! 

After reading the first Dune book, my then boyfriend and I sat down and watched director David Lynch’s movie adaptation of Dune. It has some redeeming qualities, but overall it’s not the greatest movie. 

In 2000 the Syfy channel created a television miniseries based on Dune. It was good, but still it seemed to be missing something.

Prior to David Lynch taking on Dune there was another filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who dreamt of making a film based on the Frank Herbert novel. Jodorowsky first worked to assemble a team of creative-spiritual warriors to work on the movie with him. He wrote a script, story boarded the entire film, had artistic renderings of costumes and sets, and had even cast some of the movie.  Unfortunately, the team could not find a film studio willing to make Jodorowsky’s epic vision. A vision, that would have starred, Mick Jagger, Orson Wells, and Salvador Dali to name a few, and had a yet to be determined length. Jodorowsky thought the movie might run up to 20 hours.  This never made Dune movie has often been touted as one of the greatest films never made, great enough to warrant its own documentary film called, Jodorowsky’s Dune. 

After our Sunday brunch, we headed to The Ritz at the Bourse to see Jodorowsky’s Dune. 

It was a captivating documentary, enhanced by the fact that Jodorowsky, who is now in his 80s, is quite the eccentric character. He is extremely animated and often uses sound effects when he speaks (this delighted me and made me love him all the more). He has an incredible, one might even say enviable imagination, and a unique way of viewing the world.  He is the type of person that I would love to sit down with for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and listen to him speak for hours about the creative process.

The documentary was filled with fun stories about how Jodorowsky recruited Salvador Dali and Orson Wells. It also included many animated versions of the story boards so you could get an idea of what the movie would have looked like. I found it interesting when they showed some of the movies that members of the Dune team went on to make, and how their time working on the Dune film, though it was never made, influenced their future film projects (Alien,Masters of the Universe, Blade Runner etc..).

In the end we decided that although Jodorowsky’s movie would have certainly turned out to be a unique and interesting piece of artistic film making, we probably would not have liked it as a representation of a book we both love. Jodorowsky had actually never read the book Dune when he decided to make the film. A friend of his had merely told him about the book. Jodorowsky was more interested in the spiritual aspects and the ideas of the story. He was not as interested in keeping to the actual plot. His version would have taken a lot of creative license that included an entirely different ending.

If you get a chance I do recommend seeing the documentary.  Even if you aren't a Dune fan, it is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a slightly mad creative genius. 

Perhaps someday another creative genius could take the Dune series and turn it into a Game of Thrones quality television series. I would love to see that.


  1. I am a Dune fan and would love to see the documentary. Great post, Sarah

  2. "For he IS the Kwisatz Haderach!"

    I would love to see this film (both the documentary and MONDO EPIC film that could have been).

    Absolutely wonderful post!

  3. I read "Dune" after hearing it referenced so many times at the SJWG meetings. Like the book. I don't know how someone could think of making a movie from a work that they hadn't read. Thanks for this, Sarah.