Sounds Great, Just Don’t Make Me Watch It: JODOROWSKY’S DUNE

download (1)

One of my favorite visionary directors takes on a massive science fiction project, designed by some of my favorite SF illustrators, scored by Pink Floyd, starring, among others, Orson Welles…where do I stand in line for a ticket????

At the same theater showing the deleted footage from THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS and Ridley Scott’s I AM LEGEND, that’s where. Alexandro Jodorowsky tried and failed to adapt Frank Herbert’s DUNE into a movie. Ever since, the story of moviedoms most expensive failure to launch has been a cautionary tale about how The Suits will stomp on the fragile dreams of The Artist. And all The Artist asks for is for someone to fork over millions of dollars, no questions asked.

Alejandro Jodorowsky is definitely a film artist. That lets people give him a pass when he spouts off about his goofy, weird, inspired and sometimes laugh-out-loud inane work. Danny Peary put it best when he wrote about EL TOPO that it was like Jodorowsky crammed in every idea that ever appealed to him.

Watching JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, a documentary about his failed attempt to make a movie of Frank Herbert’s book, you see how easily people in Hollywood get inflated ideas about themselves. (For all the talk about eeeevil Hollywood, people bow and scrape to Jodorowsky like he’s the director of the latest big budget piece of crap.) Jodorowsky is not an American director of big-budget schlock, see, so when he says such crap as,

images (3)

” I wanted was to create a prophet. I want to create a prophet… to change the young minds of all the world. For me, Dune will be the coming of a god. Artistical, cinematographical god. For me, it was not to make a picture. It was something deeper. I wanted to make something sacred, free, with new perspective.”

I’m sure that would’ve made an enjoyable, unpretentious entertainment.

I love ambitious movie makers, and especially ambitious science fiction movie makers. But when I see and hear his plans for this, I see someone who isn’t all that far removed from a campier Wachowski brothers act, powered by some vague New Age philosophy, starring his 12-year-old son and flamboyantly-dressed stars like Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali (or his inflatable double), with a lot of palace intrigue. For twelve hours.

Did he or anyone connected to this think about the impossibility of making a twelve-hour movie ‘inspired’ by DUNE? It certainly didn’t seem like he was interested in doing anything like a faithful rendition of the book. He says early on he started this without having read the book. I’m still not convinced he’s read it since.

images (1)

I think people get off on the idea of a lunatic (the good kind) making a folly. It appeals to people to think of The Suits paying for something truly screwy. But when proof of your unmade movie’s influence on the world is that some of its design aesthetic ended up in FLASH GORDON and MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, you might want to reconsider all that bragging you’re doing.


The very people turned off by David Lynch’s sometimes-chintzy, sometimes grotesque adaptation applaud Jodorowsky’s transvestite-chic vision? The movie looks dated already (which is saying something for a movie that hasn’t been made). Do people really want to see this stuff? I can practically hear the laughter as each intergalactic clothes horse stomps on the scene.

The documentary reaches its climax when the world’s easiest target, The Suits,  turn out to be the only reason this boobdoggle never happened. Why couldn’t Disney just hand over a few million dollars to make some stranger’s dream project come true? People would wouldn’t dream of letting the guy who remodels their bathroom spend a hundred dollars without the home owner’s input scoff at the idea that a commercial studio wouldn’t open up the coffers.

If Jodorowsky and others like him would get their own financing, they could make their dreams come true on film, instead of blaming strangers with money for not funding their dreams. It’s such an accepted truth that if you deny millions to dreamers you’re a villain, but I don’t see a lot of crowd-funded epics being made today.

You should see this documentary. You should see EL TOPO, SANTE SANGRE and especially HOLY MOUNTAIN.

I’m just glad I don’t have to see Jodorowsky’s 12-hour ego trip.


images (4)