Saturday, October 12, 2013


It's one of those classic Friday afternoon in the office discussions.  Who's the greatest Bond? Who's the greatest Formula One driver of all time? What's the All Time Ashes XI?  And what's the best movie never made?  Candidates would have to include Kubrick's Napoleon, Coppola's Megalopolis, Gilliam's Don Quixote and evidently, Jodorowsky's Dune.  And making the case for Dune comes Frank Pavich with his meticulously researched, lovingly crafted access all areas documentary.  According to the end credits, Pavich has already succeeded in prompting "Jodo" to work in cinema again, after a 23 year hiatus, and we have to be thankful for that. If in any small way this doc succeeds in reinvigorating studio finance for the film that would be the jackpot.  But at the very least, I'd love to see a facsimile edition of the infamous Dune Book reproduced in the wake of this movie.

So what is the book, since it's at the heart of this film?  It's the step by step all colour storyboard of Jodo's vision, as mediated by artists of the calibre of HR Giger, Moebius and Dan O'Banon and Chris Ross.  It shows the ambition, artistry and sheer imagination that used Frank Herbert's metaphysical space saga as a springboard for a kind of sci-fi consciousness expansion project.  For Jodo is always ambitious!  He was gathering together genius "spiritual warriors" to alter the minds of a generation, with a cast including Dali, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and his own son as the Messiah.

When you see the storyboards and hear the gonzo tales of recruitment and inspiration you can't help but be mesmerised by Jodo.  He's so charismatic and energetic at eighty he must really have been something when he put the team and the book together in his forties.   I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise, no matter how polished and impressive the book was, that Hollywood wasn't going to fund the project.  Jodo's background was in surrealist radical theatre and his two previous films, El Topo and The Sacred Mountain were equally genius and crazy:  prophets shitting golden turds and the like.

I loved seeing the creators light up at describing the wonder of collaboration on this project. And the one time the mischievous Jodo gets genuinely angry - when he describes how he wasn't allowed to make the movie - it's genuinely heartbreaking.  But perhaps the greatest epitaph for Jodo's Dune is when Frank Pavich shows us the influence of the book that must surely have done the rounds of every Hollywood producer and creative artist.  You can see it in Star Wars and Alien and Raiders of the Lost Ark and Flash Gordon, and every movie that those movies influenced.  It's just a shame that the disappointment seems to have slowed down Jodo's own cinematic, if not literary, output.

There's nothing not to like in this movie.  It oozes love for cinema, and Jodo makes for a fascinating narrator.  God bless the rogues and warriors!

JODOROWSKY'S DUNE played Cannes, Telluride and London 2013. It does not yet have a commercial release date.   The movie has a running time of 90 minutes.

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