VOD film review: Jodorowsky’s Dune
Ivan Radford | On 06, Jul 2015
Director: Frank Pavich
Cast: Alejandro Jodorowsky, HR Giger
Watch Jodorowsky’s Dune online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Jodorowsky’s Dune doesn’t exist. But if it did, it would probably be the greatest film in the world. That’s how director Frank Pavich feels. By the end of this movie, you probably will too.
Pavich traverses the globe to interview the cast and crew of the failed project, assembling one of cinema’s best not-making-of documentaries. Frank’s secret weapon is the book that the Alejandro Jodorowsky and his astonishing artistic team assembled to wow studios. That group included everyone from Chris Foss and H.R. Giger (pre-Alien) to Moebius, people that the filmmaker seemed to pick up through sheer willpower alone. He wanted to Dali as his evil Emperor? Voila, Salvador suddenly appeared in the foyer of his hotel. Marlon Brando? Not a problem.
Jodorowsky’s vision is brought to life through animated storyboards (by Emmy nominee Syd Garon) – a sight that is both stunning and sad, as it’s the closest we’ll ever get to seeing the ambitious piece. More jaw-dropping than even his most colourful set design (one giant head-shaped palace has a retractable tongue doorway) is the man himself: talking at length to the camera, Alejandro’s rambling excitement and joyful descriptions of failure confirms that he is, indeed, a mad genius of the highest order. You know, in case those movies he made that feature Christ weeing gold over things weren’t a big enough clue.
Like all brilliant creatives, the director sucks you in and makes you care about his project as much as he does. Why, then, even with a detailed shot-by-shot breakdown, did Hollywood refuse to give him the millions needed to give birth to his terrified baby? Exactly that. They were scared. Fear of something truly original. It’s a tragic fact that remains pertinent today. 20 years on, Hollywood may not be any braver, but the DNA of Dune can be traced through its most memorable output, from Blade Runner all the way to Prometheus – an astonishing tribute to unfinished dream. Drive director Nic Winding-Refn gleefully recalls one evening where Alejandro read through the book with him; its only ever performance, until Frank Pavich came along. Thank goodness he did.
Jodorowsky’s Dune isn’t the greatest film in the world. It’s just a tribute. But what an heartfelt, hilarious and inspiring tribute it is. A must for all film fans.