Mania Review: Jodorowsky's Dune -

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  • Rated: PG-13
  • Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Brontis Jodorowsky
  • Directed By: Frank Pavich
  • Distributor: Sony Pictures Classic
  • Run Time: 90 Minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: Jodorowsky's Dune

What could have been

By Robert T. Trate     March 24, 2014

Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)
© Sony Pictures
Does Dune have a legacy? Frank Herbert’s “Dune” novel, its sequels, and spin-offs have a legacy that has been felt through multiple genres and mediums. Herbert’s novel has touched millions of lives, whether they know it not. Can the same be said about David Lynch’s 1984 epic film, Dune? A film that Lynch has taken his name off of? Not so much. What if there was, in fact, another version of Dune out there just below the ether? A version so wild and brilliant that it was crushed by its own awesomeness? There was such a version, and the story of that Dune is the documentary Jodorowsky's Dune.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is an artist and a filmmaker that is better known for his pictures El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973). Groundbreaking does't even begin to describe his work, nor does completely insane. He is and was an artist with a style unto himself. With the success of these two pictures, French producer Michel Seydoux offered Jodorowsky the chance to direct anything he wanted to do next. Jodorowsky decided on Herbert’s “Dune”, despite having never read the novel. 

Director Frank Pavich re-weaves the incredible tale of how Jodorowsky assembled his “spiritual warriors” to bring the story of “Dune” to life. The fascinating part to this story is that all this predates George Lucas’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The process, reasoning, and manner in which Jodorowsky assembled his warriors had never really been done before. Pavich’s tale takes us on a journey in which we discover just how brilliant or mad Jodorowsky really was. When Jodorowsky thought of casting a character, he would seek out the most obvious choice and persuade them with too tempting an offer. His compromises for obtaining Salvador Dali is the stuff of legend that no one would ever believe, yet he still had him locked for the picture. Nothing was out of question for Jodorowsky. He even cast his own son, Brontis, as the lead and had him train for the spiritual combat which the character would go through. Why? Because it was for the art of it. Jodorowsky believed that his art would hopefully change the world.  

This is in no way a dry documentary filled with facts, dates and numbers. In fact, Pavich takes you on a spiritual journey to witness what could have been in Jodorowsky’s Dune. With each collaborator that comes into Jodorowsky’s circle, Pavich reveals the brilliance and groundbreaking artwork of H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Jean Giraud (aka Moebius). Then, without hesitation, you suddenly realize where you have seen all their art work before. It turns out that Jodorowsky was ahead of what George Lucas and Ridley Scott would later accomplish with Star Wars and Alien. In fact, many of Jodorowsky’s spiritual warriors came together again on Alien. When all is said and done and Jodorowsky’s crippling defeat to get the film made by Hollywood comes to light, your mind races with the possibilities of what could have been.
Jodorowsky's Dune has its own legacy. It is a visual treat that dances with you long after its tune is over. While leaving the theater (for me), the history of science fictions films started to get re-written. A world in which Jodorowsky's Dune destroyed every preconception of what came before and after existed. It was a brilliant dream, but one that relied too much on people having faith in a mad man who just wanted to tell a story, a story that he hoped would change the world.

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SmokingFrog77 3/24/2014 5:27:22 AM

Somehow I imagine that such a mad mess would be no less controversial than Lynch's Dune. Dune devotees decry the fact that Lynch introduced weirding modules, turned the rumbling-basso manipulative genius of the Baron into an hysterical flying maniac, and turning Paul into a God who created rain. I have little doubt that an even greater freakout would have resulted from: Feyd being the Baron's lover; Rabban being an hermaphrodite; Leto being castrated by a bull in ritual combat; Emperor Shaddam living on an artificial gold planet, in a gold palace built according to 'not-laws of antilogical', and living in symbiosis with a robot identical to him; and Paul being killed at the end but living on as the collective consciousness in all humanity, literally transforming the whole planet with columns of lava and crazy shit like that, leading to the planet floating off and leaving to galaxy because.... because why not. Personally I'm glad we only have to live with what Lynch did to Dune (and on it's own, his film has it's own streaks of genius, despite failing to adapt the source material well), and because Jodorowsky never made his film, we now have this doco which I can't wait to see! :)

RobertTrate 3/24/2014 7:29:39 AM

 SmokingFrogg77, I left out the massive changes, but those are expected when anyone adapts a book. See it and you will be amazed by the Doc. 

lusiphur 3/24/2014 9:39:28 AM

 I'm not big on documentaries, but this is one I'll definitely look into.


Glad you got to post this after your earier troubles.
mrdjspaz 3/24/2014 10:06:42 AM

I never read the novels, but I love David Lynch's version of Dune. It was the extended television re-edit that sucked, and that is the version that Lynch took his name off.

Jodorowsky's looks like it would have been amazing. Can't wait to see this documentary.

mellowdoux 3/24/2014 10:15:30 AM

 Let's not forget the TV Mini-Series of "Dune" and "Children Of Dune", people.
Those were bloody good.

RobertTrate 3/24/2014 10:25:38 AM

 They wanted me to pull it down because it does not come out where I saw the press screening until April 11th. I explained to them Mania is web based and everywhere!

Loved the mini-series mellowdoux. I am checking out Jodorowsky's comics next. A lot of the art and concepts from this film, made it there!

BunyonSnipe 3/24/2014 4:59:26 PM

The Incal is pretty intense, and would make for an amazing tv series...

mellowdoux 3/24/2014 6:46:41 PM

 Me too, Robert.
I thought they did a very respectable job to the source material.

blankczech 3/24/2014 7:20:31 PM

 I have tried to read the book on more than one occasion...and hard as I try...I just can't get into it. That troubles me because there are many whose opinions I respect, that say this is the greatest Sci-Fi book of all time.  It goes without saying that I didn't like the movie or mini-series either.

...still I'd like to see this documentary.  I have an art background and I'm intrigued by the artwork , that I got a brief glimpse of in the trailer.  I wish they'd put out a book "The Art of Jodorowsky's Dune," so I could slowly examine it . 


RobertTrate 3/24/2014 8:17:28 PM

 blankczech, google the art work. There is a ton that has surfaced over the years. If that book comes to shelves it is going to be expensive. Hopefully it does!

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