Jodorowsky’s Dune Blu-ray Review
As someone whose great passion is film I’m almost embarrassed to say that the only film directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky that I have seen was his 1971 western, EL TOPO, which a friend much more studious than I in the ways of foreign cinema recommended to me. I was impressed. That being said, I sit here now and try to imagine what would have truly been his masterwork had he been able to pull it off – his film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel, “Dune.”
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is an amazing inside look into the film that never was. Like LOST IN LA MANCHA, the documentary that tracks director Terry Gilliam’s efforts to film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” JODOROWSKY’S DUNE traces back over the events that brought the project to Jodorowsky and his amazing efforts to bring his dream to the big screen. What is amazing about the project is that, when he suggested DUNE as his next project in 1974, he had never read the source material. Yet just his knowledge of the plot lit the creative fires inside and he never looked back.
Unlike many documentaries about the making of a long ago film, JODOROWSKY’S DUNE benefits so much from having the filmmaker front and center on screen. His passion for the project is clear and it’s admirable that, four decades later, that passion still lives inside him. We are treated to interviews with some of the principals involved in the original project and are left to wonder in awe what an amazing achievement a film that combined the talents of H.R. Giger (designed the title creature in ALIEN), Douglas Trumball (special effects master behind 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND), the great French artist Moebius (ALIEN, WILLOW, THE ABYSS) and Salvador Dali in a featured role would have been. Director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE) notes that, had this project actually made it to fruition, DUNE, not STAR WARS, could have been the sci-fi epic that created a new Hollywood.
Along the way we are treated to an archive of goodies that will make any film fan salivate. Concept art, script treatments, poster designs…Jodorowsky even had Moebius storyboard the entire film almost as if designing a comic book. The pre-production art is amazing and so true to its time period. Jodorowsky states that he wanted the audience to feel as if they were taking an LSD trip…to get that hallucigenic feeling without, of course, doing the drug. The images are large and bright and colorful, making use of all of the senses. And these are just drawings! One can only wonder the effect the actual film would have had on moviegoers.
Sadly, the film never came to be. In 1984, ten years after Jodorowsky undertook the project, Universal and director David Lynch released a film version of DUNE that was not met with acclaim, either critically or financially. I remember seeing it but, thirty years later, all I can recall is Sting in shiny silver underwear yelling “I will kill you!” Hardly the game changing film that Jodorowsky’s version may have been.
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio, the transfer is well done. The quality of the images, some of them four decades old, is amazingly presented and the colors of the various pieces of concept art leap off the screen.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the audio is clean and level throughout. The film is sometimes subtitled, both during interviews of non-speaking subjects and often when Jodorowsky is speaking his Chilean-accented English.
I was actually disappointed at the lack of Extras included on the disc, though I do realize that a lot of the source material is forty years old so beggars can’t be choosers.
Deleted scenes (46:54): Discussions about everything from the source novel to the costumes to Dino De Laurentis. At a tight 90 minutes, these scenes could have been included and not dragged the film down at all. In fact, they just make you wonder “what if” even more.