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‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ Documents a Cult Director’s Ambitious Failure

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Colorful ship designs by Chris Foss, meant to be used in Alexandro Jodorowsky’s 'Dune'

Photo: , License: N/A


But sadly, fate had other plans. The project never left pre-production. When it came to funding from major American studios, there was little hope. Every studio received a copy of the colossal, legendary volume (20 copies were made, but only two are known to exist to this day), but not one would sign on. In the time before Star Wars, a huge-budget, big-vision sci-fi film was simply too much of a financial risk, especially with a mad visionary like Alejandro Jodorowsky at the helm. But the artist would not relent or bend his vision. Thus, the production eventually ran out of money. It was a monumental disaster, one that took years to recover from.

The legacy of the film still lives on to this day. O’Bannon was hit hard by the failure and ended up homeless after the collapse. But he was inspired. Sleeping on a friend’s couch, he started working on the screenplay for the film Alien, and we all know what happened with that idea. The majority of the creative team went on to work on Alien, which ended up as one of the most important science fiction films of all time. Giger’s House of Harkonnen concept art even made it into the 2012 film Prometheus. It can be argued that scenes in the storyboard even echo scenes in Star Wars.

For other visions to live, this one had to die. The ghost of Jodorowsky’s Dune serves as a testament to man’s creative visions, realized or not. Will we ever get a film version of Dune that lives up or exceeds the vision of Herbert’s book or Jodorowsky’s storyboard? We may not, but with this documentary, we can imagine.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Dir. Frank Pavich; feat. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Brontis Jodorowsky (PG-13)
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Opens Fri, April 18 at the Santikos Bijou

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