Movie Review - Jodorowsky's Dune

This documentary interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky about his attempt to make a film over 30 years ago. He was never able to make the film, but we're supposed to believe how amazing it would have been or how influential it was, and unfortunately I didn't buy any of it.

Jodorowsky is a filmmaker from Mexico who had two films El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973) that brought him a lot of success. The director of this documentary Frank Pavich includes clips from those two films. The images are odd, bizarre and seemingly compelling but they're given little to no context. We're not told what the films are about, their stories or why they were successes.

Even the film critics interviewed here do nothing but kiss Jodorowsky's ass. Regardless, there was something about those films that attracted a following to Jodorowsky. However, whatever support he had probably came from his personality, which was eccentric but passionate. He wrote a script adapting Frank Herbert's book Dune. A basic premise of the story is given but no true breakdown or analysis of the screenplay is provided here.

Jodorowsky then explains his process of hiring or recruiting the people who would help him make the movie. He gets a French comic book artist named Moebius to do the storyboards. He brings on board Dan O'Bannon to do special effects. He also brings H.R. Giger to help with the designs.

He tapped Pink Floyd to do the music. He incorporated his then 12-year-old son Brontis to be an actor, but he convinced David Carradine, Salvador DalĂ­, Mick Jagger, Udo Kier and Orson Welles to be actors in the film as well.

Jodorowsky wanted to move forward into production but needed $15 million in order to do so. He went to various Hollywood studios for the money but he was denied the funds and support from the studios. Therefore, that was the end of it for him. The usual rant against the studios is heard, but then he just gave up.

What is problematic is Pavich never pushes what I would consider to be obvious questions. If this project was so important to Jodorowsky and he was so passionate about it, then why did he never try to raise the money for the film outside the studios? He seemed to give up entirely after so much effort.

That, and the argument is made that Jodorowsky's Dune came about in other ways. Movies like Star Wars, The Terminator, Flash Gordon (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Masters of the Universe and Contact (1997) all arguably took from Jodorowsky. They point to a shot in Contact that's similar to one that Jodorowsky describes. Yet, in that description, Jodorowsky admits to stealing the idea from Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, so the notion that Contact stole it from Jodorowsky is laughable and isn't really proven.

The only provable connection is the one to Prometheus (2012). It's provable because H.R. Giger worked in that film as he did Alien (1979). However, the intimation is that if it weren't for Jodorowsky, there wouldn't have been all these great designs from Giger, which again is laughable. I have a feeling Giger would have been successful even if Jodorowsky had never been born. To give Jodorowsky so much credit for a film, which he never made, is a step too far. I'm sure a lot of men would love to be worshipped for all the films they didn't make.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some violent and sexual images and drug references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 23 mins.


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