Time was running out! I had been wanting to see this documentary and its first theater run was beginning to come to an end. Five bucks for a local train ride to New Haven, eight bucks for a ticket, a short walk down Temple and I was sitting in the chair with an over-sized bucket of popcorn.
I didn’t know what to expect, except that Alejandro Jodorowsky had gone into pre-production for a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune, in 1974, but the movie was never made. Also, I know the director Frank Pavich personally and he has always had an intelligent way about him.
I wasn’t prepared to be plastered to my seat in complete astonishment of the story that unfolded before me!
For 25 years the Dune trilogy had ranked high on my ‘the books I haven’t read yet’ list. They had come to me on high authority as must reads. Feeling like a dummy because Pavich and producer Stephen Scarlata’s (also a friend) documentary film was getting rave reviews at Cannes, Rolling Stone, Variety and the New York Times this year, and I hadn’t yet read the books. As it turned out — not to matter.
What I learned was that Jodorowsky had almost invented the cult movie genre with his avant-garde films El Topo and The Holy Mountain, back in the early 70’s. In fact, John Lennon had provided the 1 million dollars to Jodorowsky for the production of The Holy Mountain in 1973 because he was so impressed with the man. It was the first film to see a cult following in the American midnight movie art house cinema genre. I was only 7 at the time so I don’t know how I could have missed it.
Compelled by his success: Jodorowsky embarked on a personal and spiritual mission to make the greatest film of all time. Having secured the rights from Frank Herbert he set out to make a film that would serve as a prophet for all of humanity. As I read the reviews, during the last few months, for Pavich’s new doc, I didn’t know exactly what that meant. I was to learn!
Jodorowsky visited with Pink Floyd while they were mixing Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios, they signed on to do the soundtrack. Mick Jagger and Orson Wells signed on for lead acting roles, as well as Salvador Dali who agreed to play a role for 100,000 dollars a minute (of screen time).
In this documentary Pavich has revealed a story about the making of a film that is not unlike a very clear window into a deeper more creative world. Jodorowsky had enlisted artists and special effects supervisors such as H.R. Giger who’s artworks, created for Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Dune, went on to serve as production design models for films like Star Wars, Alien and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to name a few.
How Jodorowsky assembled his team was the part that I found most fascinating. He has an unbound enthusiasm for the human potential. The way he pushed his ‘warriors’ to make the best film possible can only be described by Jodorowsky himself, as he does in this documentary. In the end, one of the reasons that he never got to make the film was because his vision was entirely too powerful for the movie industry. It has taken decades for Hollywood to catch up with his ideas, but they did catch on to what he was all about.
If you have a chance to see Jodorowsky’s Dune in the theater I would suggest you take it. Jodorowsky has very special insights into the creative genius in everybody. He deals with literary and psychological themes in such a way as to make merely technique inconsequential.
Besides being completely blown away by the creative vision of Alejandro Jodorowsky I am amazed at how awesome a job Frank and Stephen did of identifying and getting this story to the silver screen in such a riveting form.
There is a reason this film is getting 5 star reviews from the critics! I learned more about the creative process from Jodorowsky’s Dune than from just about any other documentary I have ever seen.
So there you have it: A blog about a documentary about a film (that was never made) based on a classic science fiction novel.