JODOROWSKY’S DUNE | MOVIE REVIEW

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE was pre STAR WARS and was going to be the science fiction motherload, the best film of its generation and beyond epic. It was basically dubbed, the greatest science fiction film never made. Everything went pear shaped and the film was never finished. The story of the “making of” of this movie is nearly better than what could have been. Kernel John headed out to review this one with gusto, he is so passionate about the story. Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel is one of the greatest in the genre. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is out now, it is still playing at Dendy Newtown (NSW) and Cinema Nova (VIC) but I do not think it has long left, hunt this one down on Blu Ray or DVD, it looks well worth a look, it is also possible this is the ONLY film John has ever given a perfect 5 pops to. Enjoy his review, in my opinion, his best to date…..all the best……JK.

 

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JODOROWSKY’S DUNE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JOHN MCPARLAND

In 1965, renowned author Frank Herbert released the greatest selling science fiction novel of all time: Dune. Dune is epic in both its detail and scope. Set in the distant future, the events of Dune span galaxies, with uncountable nations, cultures, and people. It is truly vast in its complexity, delving deeply into issues of politics, religion, science, technology, dynasties, and environmentalism, as well as embracing all the classic aspects of the genre. The Dune saga is easily the most involved science fiction series ever written, not even Isaac Asimov’s 1951 Foundation series is as immersive, and no author in the intervening half a century since Dune first hit the shelves has managed to top its intricacy. Dune is quite simply to science fiction, what The Lord of the Rings is to high fantasy; it knows no equal.

Sadly though for lovers of sci-fi, there has been no Peter Jackson simulacrum to turn Herbert’s masterpiece into cinematic gold. In 1984, David Lynch released the disastrous DUNE, while in 2000 John Harrison released the somewhat successful, though ultimately underwhelming three part miniseries FRANK HERBERT’S DUNE. However, the world squandered its (first) and greatest chance ever to have Herbert’s work realised in celluloid form when visionary Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky attained the film rights for Dune in 1975. Enter director Frank Pavich to explain this sad story in JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, a tale of the greatest movie never made.

 

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JODOROWSKY’S DUNE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY

 

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is a documentary that recounts Jodorowsky’s quest to bring Dune to the silver screen. The film features interviews from French producer Michel Seydoux, artist and set designer H. R. Giger, artist Chris Foss, Jodorowsky’s son Brontis, and Jodorowsky himself, among others. Jodorowsky has been described by his contemporaries as an “artistic, cinematic God,” with his critically acclaimed cult films EL TOPO (1970) and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973) thrusting him into the limelight. Those films were experimental, avant-garde and impressionistic in their scope, forward thinking, mind altering and running severely counter to the filming practices and concepts of the time. Even today, in fact probably even more so, modern day audiences, with their reliance on established themes, structured narrative, coherent plot, and conventional visual and acting practices, would desperately struggle to appreciate Jodorowsky’s work. His films were not meant to relieve an audience member’s boredom for an hour or two, they were designed to be a cinematic experience of the mind and soul. In Jodorowsky’s own words, “You can’t have a masterpiece without madness.” What greater prophet to bring Herbert’s universe to life than Jodorowsky?

Jodorowsky states that with his vision of Dune he wished to portray to the audience the experience of being on LSD without the drugs. He made it his mission to bring onboard only those he deemed spiritual enough in their passion for their respective art. This by no means paints Jodorowsky as a crackpot, quite the contrary. He was determined to make the greatest film in history by ensuring that the actors, writers, producers, storyboarders, artists, designers, visual effects masters, and everyone else in between were immensely passionate about the role they had to play. To this end, Jodorowsky travelled the world to gather to himself the greatest masters in their chosen fields, signing on individuals of unparalleled talent. Names such as Gary Kurtz, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, David Carradine, Salvador Dali, and Pink Floyd, are just some of the talent connected to this film.

 

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JODOROWSKY’S DUNE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | CONCEPT ART BY H.R. GIGER

 

Of those handpicked by Jodorowsky, Jean Giraud’s input bears special mention. Known predominantly by the pseudonym Mœbius, acclaimed artist and cartoonist Giraud was tasked by Jodorowsky to draw the storyboard for the film. In Jodorowsky’s possession is a single, massive compendium of over 3,000 panels, describing every aspect of what would have been an estimated 14-hour movie, and is all that remains of the years of work invested in this project. As Jodorowsky flips through the pages of his screenplay, you can see both pride and sadness in his eyes. Though dozens of these books were made at the time and sent to production studios all around the world, it is surmised that Jodorowsky’s copy is probably the last. “Book” seems such a poor descriptor for this masterpiece; the title of tome or gospel carries with it more closely the level of veneration owed to such a work of art. Above all else, Giraud’s creation is achingly beautiful, a true credit to this legendary artist.

Pavich uses this storyboard to magnificent effect. Through special effects, audience members are gifted a glimpse of how this film might have looked. Animating spectacular moments from these surviving panels, Pavich takes the viewer on a wondrous journey of what could have been, as interviewees narrate the epic scenes unfolding before our eyes. These storyboard moments are interspersed with old footage of the team in action, surviving images of conceptual artwork, as well as standard documentary style shots of the production members recounting their experiences. Pavich combines all of these aspects into a wonderfully comprehensive and immersive film experience.

 

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JODOROWSKY’S DUNE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | SPACESHIP CONCEPT ART BY CHRIS FOSS

 

As stated in the title, this documentary is about JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, and Jodorowsky is a true presence on camera. Animated, intense and always passionate, Jodorowsky leads the audience through a powerfully spiritual cinematic journey of drive, creativity and genius, which crushingly ends in ultimate failure. Jodorowsky’s vision was just too far-fetched, too left field for any distributor to get behind. Having completed every single aspect of the film’s pre-production, Jodorowsky simply needed the financial backing to make his dream a reality. Sadly, one after another, the production companies of the world, with their disastrous lack of foresight, closed the door on what could have been the greatest film in history. And my, how Jodorowsky did rage. Pavich does not temper those moments of the film, showing the audience the pain and anguish of Jodorowsky’s rejection. From those glorious highs to this devastating low, the viewers bear witness to Jodorowsky’s emotional, heart wrenching journey.

 

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JODOROWSKY’S DUNE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | SPACESHIP CONCEPT ART BY CHRIS FOSS

 

However, there is some small measure of solace that can be taken by all those prodigies who worked on this project. Jodorowsky’s film was to alter the end of Herbert’s novel, killing off the main character Paul Atreides, but not before Paul attains a level of psychological ascendance that enables his consciousness to exist free of his flesh. In the closing act, once Paul had been killed and all hope seemingly lost, one by one Paul’s followers were to rise, look upon their enemy, and in Paul’s own voice state: “No, I am Paul,” proving thoroughly that despite it all, Paul lives on. And so does Jodorowsky’s vision of Dune, though it has since been transmuted. You see, all those production executives still had Giraud’s Dune Gutenberg, and one after the other, as those ancient masters we now take for granted first sought recognition, Jodorowsky’s exceptional work can be seen in the ways those distributors used Giraud’s compendium to influence the works of films yet to come. Jodorowsky’s cinematic concepts, set designs, filming techniques, and visual brilliances, all leave their mark on such masterpieces as STAR WARS, TERMINATOR, FLASH GORDON, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, CONTACT, PROMETHEUS, and ALIEN, among many, many others. Greatness flows from those films, but Jodorowsky was first among them all to develop such methods that we now take for granted, and like Paul, his work lives on in the critical acclaim of dozens of cinematic epics.

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is a truly fantastic film for anyone who enjoys science fiction, Dune, documentaries, or the power and influence of historical cinema on modern creations. In fact, everyone should see this movie, if for no other reason than that it is beyond brilliant. This truly is an epic recount of the greatest film never made, and we all owe it our viewership and due reverence.

 

5 Pops

 

 

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