Movie review: Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)

Jodorowsky’s Dune is a fascinating documentary about a movie that ended up never being made. At least not by Jodorowsky.

You may remember the 1984 epic by David Lynch.

This documentary is not about that movie. It is about what might have been. It is a step inside the creative world of Alexandro Jodorowsky.

An avant-garde filmmaker, he decided to create the ultimate movie that would challenge how young people think. He set out to gather around himself all types of creative folks and lined up interesting people for the roles (such as Dali, Mick Jagger, and Orson Welles) and groups to write the music (such as Pink Floyd and Magma).

His creative troupe produced a storyboard with each scene sketched out and explained, costumes drawn in beautiful color, the set designed. It was more than a movie. It was a creative project meant to change the viewer, but instead, it ended up changing the people who were creating it.

Everyone was ready to start filming. Jodorowsky went to the movie companies in the US with his tome of a storyboard. All were impressed with the preparations and the creativity but were hesitant to give Jodorowsky money when he had never created a movie quite this grand before. The project unceremoniously died.

The creative band that Jodorowsky had brought together and infused energy into in Paris slowly disbanded. Dune was made into a movie, but not Jodorowsky’s Dune.

With some trepidation that turned into delight, Jodorowksy went to see the movie—the movie he should have made. He was relieved by the innate badness of the version of Dune that made, not based on any of his ideas, sketches, or script.

The Dune that Jodorowsky and others had created in their minds and in sketches survived and had a lasting impact via the scores of storyboards in the hands of movie companies. Where the books ended up is unknown but they clearly made the rounds, influencing science fiction movies from the late seventies through today: Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Masters of the Universe, Contact, Prometheus, Alien, Blade Runner, the Matrix. Without his and his band’s ideas and renderings, these science fiction movies could not have been what they were, and maybe they couldn’t have been at all.

Science fiction owes a great deal to Jodorowsky’s ideas and the world he created. He inspired others to tap deeper into their creativity in hopes of opening minds both of others and of the creators. For Jodorowsky, life is a search for the soul, though art, literature, painting, and movies.

Jodorowsky’s Dune is a fascinating look into one man’s mind, the creative world he inhabits, and the ripple effects he has had over numerous decades. Definitely watch this movie to be inspired—and to wish for what might have been.

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