Chilean born director Alejandro Jodorowsky has made some of the most extreme films in the history of the medium. From his onset he has never felt the need to cap his imagination and because of this his work has earned a legendary status among those who love to venture to the far fringes of film.
It stands to reason he would run into problems when he stepped into Hollywood to adapt Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic: Dune.
Frank Pavich’s extraordinary documentary about the rise and ultimate failure of one of the greatest films that never was is, finally, a complete cinematic record of this legendary event and a celebration of the artist who triumphs over failure.
What Jodorowsky has to teach us most is the lesson of how irrelevant failure is. The constant pursuit of the art is most important. Art will exist and in whatever form it will be, mostly due to forces beyond anyone’s control, but if you do not create, nothing will last.
His passion is so untainted, so unrealistic that it reaches awe inspiring moments. At one point he grabs all the money from his pocket in a tirade against its restrictions on the artist. He’s a moment away from ripping it up in shreds. That the world runs on money infuriates him. It’s unnatural for the artist to be limited by these material constraints.
The failure of Jodorowsky’s Dune has caused the flowering of other legendary films. Most of who he worked with went on to Alien, and we’re shown comparisons between his storyboards and those of Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Flash Gordon. It is an idea I want to believe, but without interviews from those directors, it’s difficult to know if this is the case. The film takes a few assumptions.
Still, Jodorowsky’s Dune is an important and vital documentary for many reasons. It’s a record of the time in film history, a thorough account of a cinematic mystery and a love song to art and the artist.
After Dune collapsed Jodorowsky made his masterpiece Santa Sangre. He’s 83 years old and just debuted a film at Cannes this year.
What kind of failure was Dune?