Why ‘Dune’ fans should be thankful that Jodorowsky’s version was never made
Dune movies have been historically troubled. While the American public expects this sounds as a triumphant adaptation of visionary director Denis Villeneuve, there are many who revisit the strange history of various Dunes who came before.
While the reputation of the 1984 David Lynch Dune remains decidedly mixed, and the 2000 versions of Sci-Fi Channel have been largely forgotten, the never actually filmed version of Alejandro Jodorowsky Dune is generally referred to in a respectful tone by moviegoers.
In fact, the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky dune argues that in 1975 it was Go to be the most excellent science fiction film of all time. But, if you dig into what Jodorowsky Dune was going to be like, that doesn’t sound good at all.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but here’s why we’re probably better off without Jodorowsky Dune. Slight spoilers ahead for the book version of Dune.
What is Jodorowsky’s Dune?
Technically, Jodorowsky dune is a documentary about the failure to make a big screen Dune adaptation in the 1970s, undertaken by director Alejandro Jodorowsky. The documentary talks about almost everything about the production of this film project. But here is the TLDR version of what this Dune would have resulted in:
- Jodorowsky wanted Pink Floyd to do the music
- Orson Welles was going to play the Baron
- Painter Salvador Dali was offered $ 100,000 an hour to play Emperor Shaddam IV
- In an influential way, Jodorowsky hired artists Chris Foss, Moebius, and HR Giger, who all came out to contribute to other sci-fi films. (For example, if HR Giger had not done a pre-production on this Dune, his work on Extraterrestrial may never have happened)
- Most relevant: Jodorowsky’s version would have moved away from Frank Herbert’s novel. Significantly. An example that raises eyebrows: the end of Jodorowsky Dune would have presented a sensitive version of the planet of Arrakis
Why Jodorowsky Dune would have been bad for sci-fi movies
The (mostly excellent) documentary argues that this version of Dune could have been amazing, but it was just too ambitious and bizarre for audiences at the time.
The doc goes further by suggesting that many sci-fi movies of the late 1970s and 1980s stood on the shoulders of this failed production. While the careers and influences of Foss and Giger had an undeniable impact on sci-fi cinema, the idea that George Lucas ripped off Jodorowsky’s film Dune (which is vaguely asserted) is quite hyperbolic.
Obviously, Lucas was inspired by the book version of Dune to create Tatooine and various aspects of the Star Wars universe, but it’s a bit far-fetched to say that Lucas couldn’t have made Star Wars if he hadn’t heard of a failed version of Dune in 1974. Star Wars could not have happened without the Frank Herbert novel, but Lucas did not need Jodorowsky’s failed cinematic version to make Star Wars fly.
Had Dune was done, it would almost certainly have been a disaster. Even if the film was objectively “good”, there is no way that this version of Dune would have been remotely good by mainstream science fiction standards.
At one point, Jodorowsky wanted a 14 hour movie. Nowadays, it might work for a streaming TV series. But in the 1970s, the last thing sci-fi needed was a heavy art film that reaffirmed the stigmatizing view of sci-fi movies as a niche interest.
The changes to the book were too extreme
In addition to presenting an inaccessible sci-fi film, Jodorowsky’s Dune marked such a departure from the source material that it wouldn’t even have pleased fans of the book. by Jodorowsky Dune also seemed to misunderstand Paul’s journey and the purpose of the story in general.
Oddly, although it was a dark and artistically strange film, it planned to end on a particular optimistic note, which is not really what Dune is pretty much at all.
In the documentary, Jodorowsky’s cops – at one point – didn’t finish reading the book. It is not clear if this was true the entire time he worked on the film, but it is clear from the documentary that he had a strange relationship with the source material. Check out this quote:
“It’s different. It was my Dune. When you make a picture, you don’t have to respect the novel. It’s like you’re getting married, right? You go with the woman, white, the woman is white. You take the woman, if you respect the woman you will never have children. You have to open the costume and… rape the bride. And then you will have your picture. I was raping Frank Herbert, raping, like that! But with it! love, with love.
Compare that with recent comments from Denis Villeneuve:
“All of the details Frank Herbert made are so rich and precise, the dream was that people who liked the book will feel like we put a camera in their minds and brought back pictures that will look like they did. imagined while reading the book. “
It seems pretty clear which person you want to make a Dune movie. Yes, Villeneuve admitted somewhere else this adaptation is a “transgression”, and we already know that some things in the book – like Chani’s point of view – will be changed.
But the difference between Villeneuve’s intention and Jodorowsky’s intention is clear. Villeneuve does not seek to appropriate the original art. He tries to sublimate it into something else. by Jodorowsky Dune would have, as he admits, been his and maybe his alone.
A stimulating book like this cannot survive the adjustment process with too much ego attached. If the spice is to flow for everyone, it needs what the Jodorowsky version seemed to lack: teamwork.
Jodorowsky dune (the documentary) is streaming for rent on Amazon Prime. that of Denis Villeneuve Dune will be released on HBO Max and in theaters in the United States on October 22, 2021.