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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

REVIEW: Jodorowsky's Dune - The Movie You Can't Watch With Your Eyes Open.

There’s a lot of love out there for the creative mind behind El Topo, Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre. Every year it seems a new wealth of film enthusiasts breaks into Alejandro Jodorowsky’s filmography and becomes familiar with the “new surreal” (well new starting around 1970 anyway). We are talking about a man who has created works that boggle the mind and confuse the senses perhaps more so than any David Lynch film you’d want to watch. While I may enjoy Lynch’s work there is little doubt in my mind that Jodorowsky claims the prize for creating the most perfect mindfucks on record, lysergic orgasms painted on celluloid with sound and scene scapes so broad I hesitate to use words to describe them and prefer better, though still not necessarily more accurate, to tell you to close your eyes and imagine the nightmare you had as a child. The one about the circus or the desert or of intergalactic drug trade. Behind your eyelids you’ll have more of a chance to understand what it is that an artist like Jodorowsky is conveying to you. Not simply showing you visually, but messaging you as if from a subconscious place. From his very pineal gland.  Let that, dear reader, set the stage for his latest work which is not a work at all but a conception of a great work. A work that nearly was, will never be except in you’re the fathoms and furrows of your own mind. We’re talking about Jodorowsky’s Dune… and this is the review of the documentary about Dune, not the movie. The movie itself does not exist. It cannot exist.

From Sony regarding the Blu-ray release:

In 1975, Alejandro Jodorowsky began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12-year-old son 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 H.R. Giger and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever.

Through interviews with legends and luminaries including H.R. Giger (artist, Alien), Gary Kurtz (producer, Star Wars: Episodes IV and V) and Nicholas Winding Refn (director, Drive), and an intimate and honest conversation with Jodorowsky, director Frank Pavich’s film finally unearths the full saga of “The Greatest Science Fiction Movie Never Made.”


The fan of Jodorowsky’s work will feel a bitter sweet crushing blow while enjoying this documentary crafted about the never-made movie of the century. In a sense, our documenteur has created the perfect canvas for the audience to create its own visions of what might have been. The documentary stretches out from character and planetary design to spaceship and casting. This is really more of the framework for the movie that might have been had the damn funding come through. There’s a brutal irony that years later the man with which I compare Jodorowsky to, David Lynch, actually got the damn thing made. It’s a sore spot in a way for fans of Jodorowsky and of course, Alejandro hated it (you have to watch the film to see his perfect reaction).

While the documentary may focus on a film that was never actualized you come to learn more about the man himself nearly as much as his creative vision. It’s as much a biography as it is a love letter as it is a eulogy. After watching this movie you might be inclined to believe that all cinema and indeed the world revolves around Alejandro Jodorowsky, and you will be absolute correct. There are brilliant casting decisions for roles gone unplayed and designs created by the greatest artists of our era including H.R. Giger who recently passed this year. Orson Welles… in Dune? It would have happened. Some the most iconic minds and talents of the century were meant to star in Dune, and in our minds they still do.

If any one of you discovers a time machine (Delorean or otherwise) and feels the need to amass a great fortune through time travel fortuned sports betting, perhaps your first trip should be to meet up with a filmmaker from Spain who needs funding for a movie called Dune based on one of the greatest works of Science Fiction fantasy written in any period. Your investment will be repaid with the rewritten history of cinema and not simply the scavenging and pillaging of one man’s genius.

That being said and with all respect paid to the movie that was never created, perhaps there is a more optimistic view that Jodorowsky’s Dune sheds on us all. While the film itself was never made, we cannot have the burden to compare all other movies to it, and perhaps the fantasy of the movie is as powerful as any film grain laid work. The film cannot exist, but it does exist. It exists when you take the ride, watch this documentary and come out of it with a great conception of what it might been complete with dialogue you can spin from the conversations in the film and what might end up like the veritable childlike Christmas morning of your cinema watching career as captured only within your very mind. It’s pure moviemaking mythology now, legend, lore and fable.

And while all that was absolutely my impression of the film there’s some technical stuff you’ll want to know too I’m sure.

It isn’t as extra packed as one might believe though it does contain deleted scenes that might be of interest. It looks fantastic as one might expect from a modern day documentary whose focus is one of the greatest directors of our time. The release comes in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. It is completely rewatchable as each viewing will give you a new focal point, a new piece of eye candy to taste and a new sound bite to contemplate.

Think of this as a filmmaker’s mantra to be enjoyed in syllable size bits daily. It will make you a better enjoyer of cinema. It can help you be a better filmmaker. It can help to unactualize or de-realize some of your most lofty goals. Perhaps most affirming is as lesson that you must have funding to make a movie. Know your budget. Design your budget. This is what separates the artist from the filmmaker from the business man and where somewhere in between there is a perfect nexus that gets movies made. The world was to good for Alejandro’s vision of Dune. The world is his Dune.



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