Monday, October 7, 2013

Fantastic Fest 2013 Review: JODOROWSKY'S DUNE - Jonesy's Take

Directed by Frank Pavich
Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, and H. R. Giger.
Synopsis: A look the unmade Dune film that ended up influencing modern science fiction films. 

Author Frank Herbert's Dune is one of the quintessential books for sci-fi gurus. It's epic in scope, but has been deemed almost impossible to adapt to film. In 1974, a Chilean-French filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky, secured the rights to Hebert's masterpiece, and attempted to adapt the book into (what could have been) a monumental and groundbreaking film. However, the project fizzled out before his vision could be complete, but would still make an impact on all the sci-fi classics we love today.

Director Frank Pavich heard of this story of this failed film through one of his producers. Intrigued by the idea of a failed film being an inspiration for other films, he spent three years interviewing to piece together the story of why this film ultimately didn't make it into production. What he ended up stumbling across was a genius director who was ahead of his time with his epic ideas and visions.

The bulk of the film is stories and anecdotes from Jodorowsky himself. We get a bit of back story of his early works, and how he came into adapting Dune into a film. He wanted to make a film that would duplicate the effects of LSD without having to actually take the drug. When he dives deeper and deeper into his thought process, you begin to see how much of a genius he was. "You can't have a masterpiece without madness!" he states at one point. He's charismatic, enthusiastic, and even though his baby ended up being shut down after two, hard years of work, he never seemed discouraged. Instead, he looks at each trial as a way of learning and growing as a person.

Intercut between stories are spectacular images from the elusive and gigantic "DUNE book" Jodorowsky compiled. The book is chalked full of costume and set designs as well as the story board for the entire film. As we periodically flip through the pages, we are treated into the mind of Jodorowsky and the grand vision he had for this film. The book has about 3,000 pictures, and almost every minute detail is drawn out. In particular, H. R. Giger's designs are awe-inspiring, and while his designs flashed across the screen, you can easily point out which sci-fi films these designs later influenced.

Though we never got to see Jodorowsky's fully realized movie(and based on the Dune book, the costumes would have been cosplayed to death at every convention), his vision was enough to still inspire and influence this beloved genre. The documentary is one of the more engaging docs out there right now. Even if the story of Dune doesn't intrigue you, just seeing Jodorowsky talk about his work and his passion is worth viewing the film.

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