He has been called surreal, a visionary, as well as cinema’s shaman of psychedelia. He has also been considered a mad genius and bonkers. But in 1974, Alejandro Jodorwosky, the man behind the hallucinatory El Topo and Holy Mountain, took on what could have been one of the greatest sci-fi cult epics of all time, Frank Herbert’s Dune, with a cast and creative team that blows the mind. Frank Pavich’s mesmeric documentary JODOROWSKY’S DUNE tells one of the legendary “what if” stories of lost Hollywood cinema and gives a pretty far-out peek into what could have been.
“I wanted to do a movie that would give the people who took LSD at that time the hallucinations that you get with the drug, but without hallucinating,” states Jodorowsky in the film. “I did not want LSD to be taken, I wanted to fabricate the drug’s effects. I wanted to create a prophet to change the young minds of the world. Dune would be the coming of an artistic, cinematical god.”
Paul Salfen for Inside Entertainment Video Editor: ChrisThompson, AMFM Magazine
Alejandro Jodorowsky and Paul Salfen at SXSW 2014
In Frank Pavich’s new documentary JODOROWSKY ‘S DUNE, Jodorowsky fiercely and passionately relates how his Holy Mountain producer, Michel Seydoux, asked him what he wanted to do next. He remembered hearing about a book (which he had never read). “I want to make Dune.” He then set out to find his ‘spiritual warriors’ with whom he was going to make this great film—and the amazing anecdotes of how he went after them are not-to-be-missed highlights of Pavich’s docu. Among them were a unique creative team of effects wizards and unique conceptual artists, including Dan O’Bannon, H.R. Giger, Moebius, and Chris Foss. Music by Pink Floyd and Magma. And a cast that would have included David Carradine, Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Udo Kier, Mick Jagger, and Jodorowsky and his son Brontis. Jodorowsky and his team put together a 600-page proposal book with shot-by-shot drawings, script, and costumes design; using these ‘Dune Book’ images, Pavich gives us a stunning glimpse into Jodorowsky’s vision.
It didn’t work. The studios said no to the $15 million-and-growing budget (as well as to the ‘uniqueness’ of Jodorowsky and his warriors). No money was forthcoming.
While the ambitious production collapsed after two years, Jodorowsky’s team of artists continued exploring the themes and styles started on the project and ended up changing modern science fiction forever: H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon and Chris Foss went on to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Alien; O’Bannon wrote Alien and Total Recall; Chris Foss also worked on Superman; Jean “Moebius” Giraud created artwork and futuristic worlds for The Empire Strikes Back, Tron, and The Fifth Element; he and O’Bannon created a comic book, The Long Tomorrow, that inspired the look and feel of Blade Runner; and he and Jodorowsky illustrated and wrote a series of graphic sci-fi comic, L’Incal (The Incal). As Pavich says, “All roads lead back to Jodorowsky.”
“I am incredibly grateful that we are the ones who are getting to tell the story of this never-realized film from one of the world’s greatest film directors,” says Pavich. “We hope to be able to impart to the audience a taste of what Jodorowsky’s version of Dune might have been like.”
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE was directed by Frank Pavich; with an eerie mood score by Kurt Stenzel; and featuring interviews with Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Brontis Jodorowsky, Richard Stanley, Devin Faraci, Drew McWeeny, Nicolas Winding Refn, Gary Kurtz, Diana O’Bannon, Amanda Lear and others.
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune – good or bad – had the potential of being one of cinemas cult darlings. With JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, “Frank Pavich,” as Variety says, “delivers his own mind-bending cult movie.”