This is a movie that would have been THE science fiction movie of all time. Alas, it was never made. But we can content ourselves with this documentary, a lens into what might have been.

I admit, based on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s earlier movies, I might have been dubious. He wrote, directed, and starred in, some pretty crazy shit. He was a surrealist. What I loved about him and they way he came across in the documentary was his burning passion to make this film. He said that he was willing to sacrifice an arm, or even his life to make it happen. There are very few artists of that intensity around these days.

Jodorowsky collected a team of what he called “spiritual warriors” to make the film.

Some notes I made when watching the documentary:

(just to highlight the potential awesomeness of this film)

ae568cd13a92cf6daa8e0009bbceff8bThe script was written in a castle in France which they rented

  • Salvadori Dali (the painter) as the Emperor?
  • Orson Wells as Baron Harkonnen?
  • Mick Jagger as Fayd Rautha?
  • Jodorowsky’s son trained 6 hours a day for 2 years in martial arts to play the part of Paul Atreides. Jodorowsky said that he wanted to prepare his son just as Duke Leto would have
  • The Script was a huge book, filled with detailed drawings and storyboards of every scene in the movie

Art

Some of the amazing artists went on to do cornerstone movies like Alien and you can see the influence their two-years on Jodorwosky’s Dune had on their future work.

H.R. Giger

H.R. Giger’s rendering of Baron Harkonnaen’s fortress

Giger’s work on Alien, a few years later

SYNOPSIS

from the movie website:
This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema’s greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (EL TOPO) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert’s Dune – and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.

Jodorowsky enlisted an elite group of artistic mercenaries, including French comic book artist Moebius, who illustrated the storyboards; screenwriter Dan O’Bannon (DARK STAR, ALIEN); artist H.R. Giger (ALIEN); and sci-fi paperback illustrator Chris Foss. For the cast, he lined up icons ranging from Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger to Orson Welles, and even his own son, who was put through two years of gruelling martial arts training to prepare for his role. Unfortunately, the film was never made.

Director Frank Pavich tackles one of cinema’s most enthralling “what could have been” stories, weaving interviews with the charismatic Jodorowsky, his collaborators, and supporters (including DRIVE director Nicolas Winding Refn), together with animation to bring Moebius’ storyboards to life. Even though the project exists only in the imaginations of its creators, and as the hundreds of illustrations they left behind, Pavich’s documentary chooses not to dwell on failure, but rather celebrates the ways in which the creative dreams of Dune planted seeds for many other iconic films that came after it, from STAR WARS to ALIEN to countless more. This is an inspirational story about the power of the creative spirit, one that establishes Jodorowsky as a master of cinema and a true visionary of our time.

© COLIN GEDDES, TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Selections from the PRESS Kit:

 

LOGLINE

 

The story of legendary cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s staggeringly ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel DUNE.

 

SYNOPSIS

 

In 1974, 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 H.R. Giger and Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever.

“For me, Dune will be the coming of a god. I wanted to make something sacred, free, with new perspective. Open the mind!”

-Alejandro Jodorowsky

For two years, Jodo and his team of “spiritual warriors” worked night and day on the massive task of creating the fabulous world of DUNE: over 3,000 storyboards, numerous paintings, incredible costumes, and an outrageous, moving and powerful script.

“In that time, I say, if I need to cut my arms in order to make that picture, I will cut my arms. I was even ready to die doing that.”

-Alejandro Jodorowsky

In the words of Jodorowsky’s producer, Michel Seydoux, “It should have been enough. But it wasn’t.”

Through interviews with legends and luminaries including H.R. Giger (artist, ALIEN), Gary Kurtz (producer, STAR WARS) and Nicolas Winding Refn (director, DRIVE and ONLY GOD FORGIVES), and an intimate and honest conversation with Jodorowsky filmed over the course of three years, director Pavich’s film – featuring never-before-seen realizations of Jodo’s mind-blowing psychedelic space opera (animated by Emmy Award nominated Syd Garon) – finally unearths the full saga of ‘The Greatest Movie Never Made’.

 

BIOGRAPHIES

Director / Producer Frank Pavich is a Croatian-American, New York City native, currently living in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1995 he directed the cult-underground music documentary N.Y.H.C. when he was just 22 years old. Following that, he co-produced DIE MOMMIE DIE! (Special Jury Prize – Sundance 2003) and has spent years in feature film and television development. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is Pavich’s first feature and it had its premiere in Cannes at the 2013 Quinzaine des Realizateurs.

 

Producer Stephen Scarlata worked with Frank Pavich on N.Y.H.C. Since then, he has focused on feature screenplays; recently winning a Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute contest with his original script, POACH. Scarlata’s recent writing credits include the Tyler Shields directed horror film FINAL GIRL starring Abigail Breslin and Alison Eastwood.

 

Executive Producer Donald Rosenfeld, from 1987 to 1998, was president of Merchant Ivory Prods, producing the critically acclaimed and award-winning films HOWARDS END, MR. & MRS. BRIDGE and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. He also produced Chris Munch’s COLOR OF A BRISK AND LEAPING DAY (Cinematography Award – Sundance 1996), FORTY SHADES OF BLUE (Grand Jury Prize – Sundance 2005), as well as the award- winning documentary films, NEW YORK, ANDY WARHOL and EUGENE O’NEILL directed by Ric Burns. His most recent productions include Terrence Malick’s TREE OF LIFE (2011 Palme d’Or winner), and the upcoming fall 2013 release, EFFIE GRAY, starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Robbie Coltrane, James Fox, Julie Waters and Claudia Cardinale.

 

Co-Producer Michel Seydoux and his company Caméra One have over 40 years of experience in the film industry, producing such classics as CYRANO DE BERGERAC starring Gerard Depardieu and Peter Greenaway’s PROSPERO’S BOOKS. They produced Alain Cavalier’s film PATER, which premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival. In 2013, Seydoux premiered two films at the Cannes Quinzaine des Realizateurs: JODOROWSKY’S DUNE as well as Jodorowsky’s first feature in 23 years, the highly regarded LA DANZA DE LA REALIDAD.

Cinematographer David Cavallo shot the acclaimed feature documentary NOTHING CAN HURT ME: THE BIG STAR STORY as well as the upcoming independent feature, ANCHORS. In addition, he has shot many US television programs, music videos and commercials.

 

Editor / Associate Producer Alex Ricciardi edited THE STAND UP (Official Selection Austin Int’l Film Festival 2011) as well as the upcoming independent features ANCHORS and TURTLE ISLAND. He has also edited several US television programs and music videos and is currently serving as director for the upcoming web-series, GOOD WORK JOHNSON.

 

Animator Syd Garon directed the film WAVE TWISTERS (Sundance 2001; Best Midnight Movie prize at SXSW). His second feature, N.A.S.A. THE SPIRIT OF APOLLO, was co- directed with Sam Spiegel. In 2012 he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Graphic Design & Art Direction category for his title design and animation on the HBO documentary, SUPERHEROES.

 

Composer Kurt Stenzel founded the New York Hardcore band SIX AND VIOLENCE in 1985, notorious for theatrical stage shows involving actual violence, the smashing of televisions and the chainsawing of drums. Stenzel moved on to performing with vintage analog synthesizers with BEYOND-O-MATIC and SpacEKrafT, an ambient live music, video and tactile interactive performance art experience. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is his first feature.

Alejandro Jodorowsky speaks with director Frank Pavich. Photo by David Cavallo

 

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

The story of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s journey to make his version of DUNE intrigued me for many reasons. Every day, countless film projects wither away and die before being fully realized. Usually all that’s left are some screenplay drafts and perhaps a wish list of actors. Rarely do you encounter a project that was so very close to being fully realized.

The tale of Jodorowsky and his DUNE is a fascinating trip through creativity and imagination, a story about the relentless pursuit of a dream, and the necessity of art. This is not the story of a failure. In fact, it’s just the opposite – it is the story of an artist who turns a potential negative into a grand success and moves forward with an unending evolution of ideas and drive, well into his 80s.

This is a film about a unique ambition: the ambition to change the world through art.

-Frank Pavich

Hugh B. Long
Author
Hugh B. Long is an Award Winning Canadian Author & Journalist. He writes full-time, and is passionate about Science Fiction and Fantasy rooted in Mythology. He also writes Norse and Viking themed non-fiction under his pen name - Eoghan Odinsson.

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