by Adam Riske
I went into Jodorowsky’s Dune expecting a diversion and then about 20 minutes in, I sat up in my seat and thought “Wow, this movie is really working!” It is super entertaining.
I was especially surprised by this because I haven’t even seen David Lynch’s Dune (but I have listened to Patrick and Mark’s podcast on it -- have you?) and I have never read the book Dune by Frank Herbert. My history with the work of director Alejandro Jodorowsky consists of me renting the cult favorite El Topo from Netflix a few years ago and turning it off because I didn’t think I would have a way to explain why I was watching this hallucinogenic Western featuring a naked child walking in the desert if anyone walked into my living room.
The documentary explores the Chilean-French Jodorowksy’s attempt to adapt and film Frank Herbert’s Dune during the mid-1970s. The collaboration would have been astounding and included participation from Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Udo Kier, artist Jean Giraud (aka Moebius), surrealist H.R. Giger (who has the greatest voice ever), fucking Dan O’Bannon and music from PINK FLOYD!!!!! and Magma – because each planet needed its own unique sound. Holy shit!
2001: A Space Odyssey visual effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull) are all fascinating and often hilarious. For example, Jodorowsky cast his own 12-year old son Brontis for the key role of Paul, but insisted the boy learn martial arts for six hours a day, seven days a week for two years before he stepped in front of the camera. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I can’t stress how funny this movie is. There’s a great passage where Jodorowsky coarsely describes what he’s doing to Frank Herbert’s vision and his universe that first had me in shock and then gave me a solid 90 second fit of giggles. This dude is all balls. The portion of the movie where the filmmaker describes the experience of seeing David Lynch’s Dune is also truly great.
Blade Runner, Alien, Flash Gordon, Masters of the Universe and Contact to name a few (which the documentary touchingly points out parallels a ‘collective conscience’ theme that would have been part of Dune). And the great thing is Jodorowsky feels he did the best he could do and is happy that so much of his movie lived on in its own way.
It’s one of the best movies about movies I’ve ever seen.