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JODOROWSKY’S DUNE Movie Review

Some of the most fascinating films are the ambitious projects of passionate visionaries that were never given the opportunity to succeed or fail. Terry Gilliam‘s Don Quixote will forever be known as his unmade masterpiece and Jodorowsky’s science fiction opus will continue to live in our imaginations and in the pages of his book that few have seen. Frank Pavich‘s documentary gives us a glimpse at those legendary pages and brings the gorgeous illustrations to life before our eyes, it’s near impossible not to be captivated by these surreal images that float across the screen into our subconscious. Pavich manages to consistently capture Jodorowsky’s sincecere enthusiasm, that’s not only contagious but motivated by great cinematic aspirations and fueled by his own madness.

Early in the film, Jodorowsky admits that he’d never read the source material and perhaps one way to look at that, would be that he freed himself from obligatory restraints and understood the brilliant essence behind the mythology enough to become obssessed with the ideas and truly challenge himself in ways that were never considered possible in film. Vanity and madness certainly fueled this filmmaker’s journey but he also understood that it would take other great collaborative minds to achieve the near impossible.

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The majority of Jodorowsky’s Dune consists of insightful recollections and analogies through film critics like Devin Faraci and Drew McWeeny and filmmakers like Richard Stanley (Hardware) and Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive. It can be easy to lose your audience if your subjects aren’t captivating in their own rights, but their informative tales are equally as passionate as the subject matter and add even more depth to the elaborate mythology.

There’s a strong case built for the influence that this unfinished masterpiece has had throughout film history and though some cases could possibly be incidental, there’s no denying that when Jodorowsky’s “spiritual warriors” later came aboard Ridley Scott‘s Alien, that the rest of Hollywood would begin taking notice. Looking at this project from a movie fan’s perspective, of course I’d like to see a creative science fiction film on screen that’s ambitous enough to have Pink Floyd and Magma give intricate detail to their own parts of the story, a film that would cast Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali,are you kidding me?

It’s no shocking revelation that a studio pre-Star Wars would gamble on an expensive science fiction project that demanded a minimum of ten hours running time and if this project was green-lit today, it would be best suited for a miniseries on HBO. David Lynch later proved that Dune with a reasonable running time will not be enough to satisfy an audience, the story is too massive to have been done proper justice at the time.  Perhaps this amazing film that never was will live strongest in our imaginations for years to come, where none of our expectations will ever be left unsatisfied.

Pavich does a remarkable job of walking the uninitiated through Jodorowsky’s early career, giving them a feel for his unrestrained vision and admirable talents. If Jodorowsky’s Dune is the closest we’ll come to experiencing this glorious odyssey, then perhaps it will elevate the legend even further.  The visuals and concepts defined in this documentary will forever visit my dreams and nightmares. The biggest compliment that can be paid to such an achievement, is that the legacy of Dune can be found spread across the entire landscape of ambitious cinema and will always have a place in the heart of fellow film enthusiasts. Jodorowsky’s celluloid masterpiece will never exist in the way it was intended but will always exist in our hearts and minds. Jodorowsky’s Dune will continue to keep the legacy alive and allow us to experience Dune in an impactful way, much like it’s predecessors.

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The Author

Sean McClannahan

Sean McClannahan

Sean McClannahan is a freelance film journalist and is the founder of Movie Time And Beyond. His passion for movies and pop culture knows no limits.