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'Jodorowsky's Dune' Explores 'Greatest Film Never Made'

27 Jun, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

Eighty-five-year-old filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain) has every reason to be jaded and disappointed. Surprisingly, he’s not.

A decade before David Lynch’s 1984 Dune, Jodorowsky was tapped to direct a film version of Frank Herbert's epic 1965 science-fiction novel, and, boy, was it gonna be something. Salvador Dalí was going to play Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV. Orson Welles was attached to play Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Pink Floyd would compose the music. H.R. Giger (the man who created the alien in Alien) was in charge of the design of the film.

Alas, the producers pulled out, and instead of an epic space opera that would have predated Star Wars, we have “the greatest movie never made,” according to filmmaker Frank Pavich, who chronicles Jodorowsky’s attempt to make the film in Jodorowsky’s Dune, out July 8 on Blu-ray Disc combo pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“There are a million unproduced scripts and dream projects, but I’ve never come across a non-realized film that was so close to being realized, that came so close, that was completely designed and conceived of, every costume, every set dressing, every character, it was all drawn out and ready to go,” Pavich said. “It just happened to die right before filming was to begin.”

“It was a truly astounding gathering of people, making a sci-fi film in the ’70s that would have been the first space opera, before Star Wars. If this had come out before Star Wars, I can’t imagine what sci-fi would look like today. Instead of Darth Vader, we might be talking about Orson Welles floating around in space.”

Pavich gathers interviews with Jodorowsky, Giger, Gary Kurtz (producer of “Star Wars” episodes IV and V) and director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) to offer an intimate look at the beautiful, bizarre, ambitious and ultimately failed production. Jodorowsky gave Pavich unprecedented access to his production materials for the ill-fated project, including a hardbound book of never-before-seen storyboards.

“What makes it so incredible and so surprising is Alejandro sees it as a positive, that his designs ended up in other films, that he still created something great, that the people he recruited for the film went on to incredible careers,” Pavich said. “He sees the whole story as something powerful and uplifting.”

The script Jodorowsky had in mind would have resulted in a movie around 14 hours long. Pavich’s documentary doesn’t come close to that running length, clocking in at a more manageable 90 minutes. However, he did manage to include anything he left out in the bonus features of the disc.

“Thanks to the magic of DVD and Blu-ray — that were so many years past the days of VHS — I can share everything I wanted with people,” he said.

The deleted scenes include animated sequences and interview clips.

“The biggest complaint from people coming out of the movie is that there wasn’t enough of it,” Pavich said. “With the Blu-ray they get an extra 45 minutes.”


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