Jorodowsky’s Dune (2014)

There will always be that one movie project that fueled with so much optimism. The director has pitched a one-of-a-kind idea that can be powerful enough to disrupt the world. They just cast the most unlikely of thespians to be part of the cast, and yet it seems to be you are the only one who finds the decision fascinating. It’s the type of movie only a kid would imagine during a playtime session, one that is brimming with a constellation of ideas no other people can think of.

Everyone thinks it’s absurd, but who cares anyway? While everyone is crafting their ideas by everyone’s standard, you believe in that person throughout his journey of making his movie into reality. You champion it to someone, and they champion it to another. You are very possible to see this idea finally turning into potentially, the greatest movie of all time. Until it wasn’t. Not enough is backing it up.

That movie project is the supposed big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel Dune directed by Alejandro Jorodowsky, whose fair share of adventures and misadventures is recollected in Frank Pavich’s documentary Jorodowsky’s Dune.

Before embarking on the Dune project, Jorodowsky has directed El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973). Both films feature a surrealistic element described by many as an “acid trip,” and while divisive, there’s no denying that his vision stands out.

Jorodowsky describes his works as if he is the only one who understands it. It is telling that when he is pitching Dune to everyone, he “wanted to make something sacred, free, with a new perspective.”

Herbert’s Dune has been declared by fans as a novel that is impossible to adapt. The story is multi-layered and too complex for cinematic standards, about a young man who is caught between a war between civilizations over the rule of his planet and a coveted “spice.” While the statement can be dismissed in today’s standards (Denis Villeneuve is making his take in an upcoming movie starring Timothée Chalamet), one should point out that Jorodowsky is lobbying his Dune in 1976.

For his film, Jorodowsky is trying to assemble quite a group of “spiritual warriors,” comprised of visual effects artists who will bring his idea of Dune as a hallucinatory experience, many of whom struggled to interpret his unique vision.

But Jorodowsky’s biggest challenge is convincing someone to fund his project. He is eyeing artist Salvador Dalí and filmmaker Orson Welles for key roles, who wanted way too much from his targeted budget. Dalí demanded to be paid $100,000 per hour, while Welles only agreed to be part of it if his favorite gourmet chef will be preparing food for him.

To sum it up, Jorodowsky’s Dune movie will cost $15 million, an amount his team cannot accumulate. The project closed and was never made. Years later, David Lynch took over released his Dune in 1984.

Everyone will agree that Alejandro Jorodowsky that his could-be Dune is way ahead of his time, but for sure, he is not at loss here. He still gets to show the world his movie eventually, despite very briefly in Pavich’s documentary.

Jorodowsky’s Dune isn’t a movie that should discourage many aspiring filmmakers, but the other way around. This is an inspiring piece of filmmaking history that recognizes the people who aspire for better things, even if some of it does not make any sense yet.

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