Jodorowsky’s Dune: A conventional documentary on an unconventional film

Illustration par Chriss Foss, Courtoisie de Chris Foss/ Sony Pictures Classics

Last Thursday, I had the chance of witnessing… not the greatest movie that was ever conceived by the human mind, but a close look of what it could have been if fanatic director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune had made it to the big screen.

Photo par David Cavallo, Courtoisie de Sony Pictures Classics

Photo par David Cavallo, Courtoisie de Sony Pictures Classics

March’s Docville screening at the Excentris, Jodorowsky’s Dune (dir. Frank Pavich) offered us what is the closest any moviegoers will ever be of watching this incredible, and possibly un-achievable Frank Herbert’s science-fiction masterpiece adaptation.
The sleeper must awaken…

Alejandro Jodorowsky Photo by Damon Cook, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Alejandro Jodorowsky Photo by Damon Cook, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

For many years, no one knew much about the ill-fated adaptation. Some rumors circulated about Pink Floyd’s involvement in the soundtrack, but nearly everything else about the gigantic production had drowned and was lost. Needless to say I was stunned to discover how far along the production had been and how grandiose the accomplishments were before the shutdown.

 

Imagine a movie with a stellar casting that included Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger, as well as international artists like Dan O’Bannon, Moebius and H.R. Giger, and a visionary filmmaker whose ambition is nothing less than to create a new messiah at the helm of the whole production… Only in a dream could I have wished for so much.

Illustration par Chris Foos, Courtoisie de Chis Foss/ Sony Pictures Classics

Illustration par Chris Foos, Courtoisie de Chis Foss/ Sony Pictures Classics

Now, with this documentary, prepare yourself to discover everything Jodorowsky’s Dune was… and why it never was.

A movie beyond your imagination… in a common documentary.

H.R. Giger Courtoisie de Sony Pictures Classics

H.R. Giger Courtoisie de Sony Pictures Classics

Here, I have to take a few steps back in order to be able to write about the documentary itself and not the content. While everything in this film is pure candy, the general treatment is basic and never goes beyond the usual TV genre. If Jodorowsky’s Dune intended to break every convention, open the mind and utterly change the face of cinema, Frank Pavich’s documentary about Jodorowsky’s Dune  is clean but incredibly linear and limited. It feels a little bit like he put all the sequences in chronological order, added a few animations here and there and voilà! As early as the opening scene, when the camera wanders through Jodorowsky’s living room and shelves, the incredible feeling of witnessing the famous director intimately was battered by the lack of originality and static directing. Sadly, as I sat through the movie this feeling followed me, and even when only barely perceptibly, it was always there to tone down the experience.

But if Pavich’s treatment left me down, what he managed to gather in this documentary is monumental. And here, monumental is not a figure of speech. Not only is the story he’s telling the Grail for any movie maniac, it is so rich in anecdotes from every area of art, populated by so many remarkable figures that everyone should emerge from viewing the film mesmerized. EVERYONE. The interviews, the archives and above all, Jodorowsky himself are compelling and insightful. Through his “soul warriors'” (as Alejandro called his team) memories, shots of production art and masterfully animated sequences built from the original storyboard, Pavich successfully gives a glimpse of what Dune could have been: a dream that almost came to life, a movie that exceeds consciousness. Just as Hearts of Darkness or Burden of Dreams thaw us, sometime producing a movie is a more incredible adventure than the film itself.

Jodorowsky’s Dune opens April 4.

1 Comment on Jodorowsky’s Dune: A conventional documentary on an unconventional film

  1. EVERYONE. Lol!

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