To help realize the ambitious plans he had for this film, Jodorowsky recruited the very best talent available. He tapped Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali to star, Pink Floyd to do the music. A quarter of the budget was spent in pre-production, but the art and storyboards produced were stunningly surreal and top-notch. Maybe even a little too aspirational, because Hollywood studios balked at the high concept (and at the projected 14-hour runtime) and it never got made, despite having influenced countless sci-fi movies over the past four decades.
Jodorowsky is a great man to capture on film. Talking about his movie, it’s obvious that this was his passion project, his life’s work. Flipping through costume designs, camera angles and script changes, it’s astonishing and heartbreaking to see so much work and so much talent go to waste. Deflated over his Hollywood rejection, Jodorowsky stopped making movies. And it was with a heavy heart that he trudged to theatres in 1984 to see David Lynch’s Dune. He admits that if anyone could have done justice to his movie, it was Lynch, but he also gleefully tells us that his spirits soared when he realized the film was awful, a flop.
Jodorowsky speaks knowledgeably about the messiah complex that’s a running theme in the material without seeming to realize that he is the epitome of the expression. He admits that he “raped” the novel, albeit “with love” – it was rumoured that author Herbert was none too pleased. He took the story to places never imagined by the book itself, and perhaps it was this conceit, this unbowing grandiosity that was his undoing. Studio execs did not believe that this epic film, straying so far from the beloved source material, would ever find an audience. And maybe they were right. But between the conceptual art and the passionate storytelling of Jodorowsky, I wish that the choice had mine, had been ours, to see or not to see his masterpiece: Dune.