Sunday, December 14, 2014

Movie with Abe: Jodorowsky’s Dune

Jodorowsky’s Dune
Directed by Frank Povich
Released March 21, 2014

On occasion, the making of a film can be as interesting as the film itself, and in some cases, even more so. The story of a film that never got made is a more intriguing matter since there’s inherently some reason that it never came to fruition. One of this year’s top contenders for the Oscar for Best Documentary is “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” the fantastical, mesmerizing account of how eclectic director Alejandro Jodorowsky conceived of an impossibly ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” in the early 1970s. Believing that it wouldn’t ever get made is hardly a stretch, but hearing and seeing Jodorowsky describe his astonishing vision is an extremely entertaining and worthwhile adventure.

Jodorowsky is introduced with a monologue that demonstrates the scope of what he wants to do with his film – to replicate the experience of being on LSD without actually taking the drug. After an early career highlighted by bizarre films embraced by cult audiences featuring him in the lead role, Jodorowsky jumps at the chance to collaborate with famed French producer Michel Seydoux. When asked what project he would like to do, Jodorowsky immediately suggests bringing “Dune” to the big screen because of his themes and everything he has heard about the book, which he hadn’t even read at the time.

With each new detail and addition of talent, Jodorowsky’s “Dune” becomes more outrageous and unlikely. Yet the director has such a commitment to his ideas and to realizing them with spectacular energy that it makes them seem almost possible for a moment. The top visual effects designer, when approached by Jodorowsky, explains his mechanical approach to his craft, and is dismissed by Jodorowsky as not being a spiritual warrior, therefore unfit to collaborate with him. Jodorowsky fires off his ideas – Orson Welles! Salvador Dali! – and expresses his intent to see his vision realized to tremendous and incomparable effect.

After hearing his grand plan and seeing some of the wild storyboards created for the film, it’s obviously a disappointment to come to the conclusion that the director, now 85 years old, never managed to get the film made, though a filmmaker often thought of as just as eccentric and cult-friendly, David Lynch, ultimately did. This film and its unusual sort of exposé may in fact have attracted an auteur, Ari Folman of “Waltz with Bashir” and “The Congress,” with an interest in seeing Jodorowsky’s version made into an animated film. There may not be some social cause highlighted or some wrong righted in this documentary, but experiencing the craziest film never made and possibly inspiring it to be made is definitely worth the price of admission (or home viewing).


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