Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)

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Critic Consensus: Part thoughtful tribute, part bittersweet reminder of a missed opportunity, Jodorowsky's Dune offers a fascinating look at a lost sci-fi legend.

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Synopsis: In 1975, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose films EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN launched and ultimately defined the midnight movie phenomenon, began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12 year old son Brontis alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including HR Giger and Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, Jodorowsky's adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever. (c) Sony Classics

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Critic Reviews for Jodorowsky's Dune

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (35)

Pavich shows us many images from the storyboard, and even treats some to a simple form of animation to suggest how the movie might have looked.

Jan 4, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

This documentary version of Jodorowsky's "Dune" is probably more entertaining than what Hollywood would have done to it, with a clearer message: Our lives are like sands though an hourglass, so dream the impossible dream.

May 8, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A deeply moving testament to single-minded, indefatigable commitment of creative vision and to an almost spiritual ability to let that vision go, thereby allowing it to exist in the world in an entirely unexpected form.

May 1, 2014 | Full Review…

Jodorowsky is a mesmerizing presence in director Frank Pavich's engrossing picture. He was 84 when much of it was shot.

Apr 24, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Jodorowsky's Dune gives you a good sense of what might have been, and judging by what we see, the picture might have accomplished what the director ultimately intended: "To mutate young minds."

Apr 24, 2014 | Rating: 3/4

What an extraordinary dream it could have been.

Apr 18, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Jodorowsky's Dune

½

An extremely fascinating, profoundly frustrating yet also surprisingly cheerful account of the greatest adaptation that never was as gloriously envisaged by the mind of an artistic genius obsessed with the idea that he was creating a sacred masterpiece that would change the universe forever.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

Including all the relevant personalities, here is a decent documentary about a great might-have-been of a film some 38 years after the fact. Putting aside the rose colored lenses that come with looking back after many decades, there is also the estimation of the damage failure leaves on the psyches of the people involved. That aspect was most interesting to me at least. And while Jodorosky was denied the opportunity to give his dreams life, many of his ideas were carried on ... without him. That's gotta hurt. It was interesting.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Dune is a stunning work of Science Fiction Literature, a book so grand that there have been many attempts at trying to adapt it to the big screen, but most of them failed, and with this documentary chronicles one of the failed attempts at bring Frank Herbert's book to the screen. Having read the novel, and enjoyed it greatly, and also enjoyed David Lynch film, and found it to be quite underrated. With that being said, watching this documentary, and hearing Alejandro Jodorowsky talk about his vision of what his Dune could have been is impressive. The man is an eccentric, and he is full of creativity and his version of Dune really could have been an epic picture, even if it took plenty of creative liberties with the source material from Frank Herbert's work. Going into the film, and hearing Jodorowsky's ambitious project, you're simply captivated and you get a picture in your head at what this film could have looked like. Brilliant in the way it tackles a subject such as this, Jodorowsky's Dune is not really a look at a failed attempt, but more so at a triumph of the imagination and creativity in the cinematic medium. Even if it was never made, Jodorowsky's ideas were grand in scope, and ambitious, and if it got made, it surely would have been one of the landmark Science Fiction picture in the cinematic medium. This is wonderful documentary, and truly one of the finest documentaries I have had the pleasure to watch. Watching the film you are captivated with every shot, and you understand that Alejandro Jodorowsky is eccentric, but that's not a bad thing however because the way he talks about his picture that never got made is in such a way that he is enthusiastic and so full of life that you understand that he adores cinema for what it is, and you realize that he could have made a stunning film, and with that being said, because of his enthusiasm, he deserved to make Dune because he probably could have changed the genre of Sci Fi and raised the level of storytelling significantly. The documentary goes in depth with plenty of great interviews from notable people in the industry, and we see concept drawing as well as Jodorowsky's ideas of who would helm the special effects, do the music and act in his film. Considering the level of talent involved in the failed project, it's actually a shock that this film never got made. In a way, even if the project ultimately was shelved due to issues with the budget, Alejandro Jodorowsky had assembled a wonderful team of superb talent that would have made a stunning picture, but these artists such as H.R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon and others would later work on some of the legendary Science Fiction films in the medium. Alejandro Jodorowsky is wonderful to listen to, even if he didn't succeed, his ideas, imagination and creativity is untarnished by the fact that his film never got made. After the film I felt myself saying, Man, I really want to see this film. As a documentary, this is a superb picture, one of new favorites and a stunning story about an eccentric director that tried to bring one of Science Fictions grandest epics to the screen to no success. Like I stated earlier, I view this not as a story of failure, but one of success because it just goes to show that when you put your mind to it, you can imagine and create the greatest things, even if it never came to light. This film shows us a filmmaker that is really passionate about cinema and even if Jodorowsky never got to put his vision to film, we can only imagine how this film would have looked, and raises a lot of possibilities of what could have been. Nevertheless the greatest aspect of the film is that Alejandro Jodorowsky isn't bitter or angry, he's excited and constantly engaging with full of life and idea and of course ambition. With that being said, He definitely seemed like the right person to craft and direct this film that never was. This documentary on the other hand will surely rank among the finest in the genre, and rightfully so. If you love cinema, and have a passion for it, this is definitely worth your time.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

½

I only discovered this documentary after it was mentioned in a movie thread by a fellow flick lover. I'll be honest with the fact that I'm not overly aware of director Jodorowsky and his work so I went into this totally blind only knowing about the classic sci-fi epic that is Dune. It all starts off with a relatively in depth look at Jodorowsky's previous work leading up to his Dune attempt. We learn about films such as 'El Topo' and 'The Holy Mountain' which appear to be his most famous works, films I have never seen or heard of admittedly but 'El Topo' does look the more interesting to me being a violent western. Its here that we learn how Jodo thinks, how he sees things, his imagination, creations and ideas, and basically one word sums it all up...surreal. This doc explains how Jodo travelled all across Europe to lure various big names to his project trying to get his unique vision off the ground. The doc shows us lots of small sketches drawings and a small animated example of the way ideas were going, in all honesty there isn't a lot to be shown really. I was hoping for lots of big Ralph McQuarrie type paintings giving a clearer picture but alas no. Many of the images are unfinished or purely examples, not even the final idea, and half of which looked pretty terrible to me but that's a personal opinion. Everything has now been put into a ginormous book which I believe has the complete plot in hand drawn black and white pencil storyboard form (panels) with colour extras. Thing is we don't really get to see that much in this doc, maybe there isn't that much to see and what we do see is all there is. Most of the doc is mainly dialog from various people involved with Jodo on the project at different stages. They discuss every aspect of the production including bits which I found more interesting such as approaching H.R. Giger and Chris Foss the sci-fi artist about design work, both of which resulting in some typically unusual yet familiar concept work. Intriguing to see Dan O' Bannon was also involved with this project for special effects...which most probably led the way for another certain alien film and probably influenced his imagination. What I found the most arousing was the possible casting choices by Jodo, whether or not these stars would have been used in the final film is anyone's guess but its a strange bunch. Orson Welles as 'Baron Harkonnen' really felt like a bad choice to me and simply made because he was very fat at the time, Salvador Dali probably because Jodo was part of the surrealist movement which is hardly any kind of surprise and Mick Jagger as 'Feyd-Rautha' who did look the part but again was mainly thought of because of his fame at the time. Many of the outfits designed for these characters also varied drastically, from more grounded Star Wars type styles to very bright bold and colourful costumes that were garish and oddly revealing, especially Jagger's which was pretty much a male dominatrix getup. The only guy that seemed to fit the film to me was David Carradine, but again he was only chosen due to his current popularity and not because he may or may not have fit the role. Overall I think this film was too much of a personal pet project for Jodorowsky, he clearly wanted to make the film desperately and gets frustrated during the doc. But from what I can gather he was casting people mainly because he simply liked them or they were popular, he cast his son as 'Paul Atreides' which kinda comes across as nepotism to me, he alters much of the book to suit himself and despite some groundbreaking concepts for effects and visuals, again his own taste seems to be heavily influencing the story of Dune. Any director must be happy with his vision sure, they will want to add their own style to it but Jodo seems to lose the concept of Dune in places to me and its only his creative team that kept him in check. Bottom line I can't help but feel this film may have ended up like the cheesy 1980 'Flash Gordon' flick. A mixture of electro synth rock with a traditional score in places (Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and progressive rock?), possibly tawdry or gaudy visuals and loud hammy over the top performances. Seeing as Jodo was taking drugs during this time (he got O'Bannon high to sell his idea to him!) I worry that this film would have felt more like a hallucinogenic hippie ride than a sci-fi space opera. I'm sure the effects would have been good in places but they were really breaking new ground at the time (1975-76) so who knows how that could of gone. Jodo went against '2001' effects wizard Trumbull so the possibility of a realistic Dune universe may have been lost with him. An absorbing documentary which definitely digs deep into the buried layers of a film that some call a lost epic. Jodorowsky is a true visionary no doubt but I'm not sure if his vision, at least some of it, was right for Dune. The only disappointment for me here was I was kinda expecting much more visual concept work to be show, seemed a bit thin on the ground to me. Never the less highly engrossing stuff that any sci-fi buff should enjoy. I would be very interested to see Jodorowsky's vision filmed now.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

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