Cloves and Fedoras: The rebirth of an insane beautiful dream in "Jodorowsky's Dune"

Madness can create great beauty

Madness can create great beauty

Cloves and Fedoras is Seed Sings reviews for little known pieces of pop culture.  Feel free to contact us with your own submissions of undiscovered gems that must be known.

Once upon a time there was going to be a movie that featured Mick Jagger as the scion of an evil family bent on ruling the galaxy. The evil family patriarch was to be played by legend Orson Welles. The band Pink Floyd, fresh off of Dark Side of the Moon, was going to produce the score for a planet in this movie. Salvador Dali, and a prop of Dali's head, was tapped to play the mad emperor of the galaxy. H.R. Giger worked on his very first movie with this film. The movie was going to be the first adaptation of Frank Herbet's science fiction classic Dune, the power behind this bold dream was avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) is a documentary directed by Frank Pavich that looks at what could have been if the world got to witness this version of Dune on the big screen. Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Magic Mountain, Tusk) himself is the star of this documentary and he takes you joyfully through his memory, and vision, of creating a truly remarkable film. The french film financier Michael Seydoux, who owned the film rights to the book, adds his recollection to Jodorowsky's creative endeavour. The documentary is filled with the incredible stories these men lived, and goes through the disappointment of not having the director's vision be put to film. 

The cast for Jodorowsky's aborted Dune was an incredible story in itself. The director made insane deals to secure the cast of his dream. Orson Welles agreed to play Baron Vladimir Harkonnen if the actors favorite Parisian chef could be retained on set to make Welles favorite food on demand. The director's own twelve year old son was put through intensive martial arts training to prepare for the lead role of Paul Atreides. David Carradine, at the height of his Kung Fu fame, was tapped to play Duke Leto Atreides. Jodorowsky's  and Seydoux's story of casting Salvador Dali is one of the highlights of the documentary. No spoilers, you need to see the film to see this amazing story of what could have been.

The amazing cast of Jodorowsky's vision was equally matched by the forces who were creating the world of Dune. Legendary french comic artist Moebius was hired by Jodorowsky to create storyboards for the entire movie. Special effects technician Dan O'Bannon, later famous for Alien, was recruited to create the never before seen visual effects. British illustrator Chris Foss, famous for creating many iconic science fiction book covers in the 1960s and 1970s, was tasked with creating the "machinery" of the galaxy. The creative force of these three artists created a massive book detailing the entire layout of the film. This telephone sized book is featured heavily in Jodorowsky's Dune and is a star in its own right.

Seydoux attempted to get the budget together by using the Dune layout book and shopping the idea to film studios. Many speculated that the film would clock in well over ten hours, and in a pre Star Wars days, science fiction was not a hot property in Hollywood. Everyone interviewed in Jodorowsky's Dune seem excited by the memories of creating the film, and they share their dejection in the failure to get the project off the ground. The documentary is not quite as long as Jodorowsky's masterpiece, it is only 88 minutes. The time you spend watching this story will make you wanting more. The documentary made me wish for ten hours of incredible film.

Alejandro Jodorowsky may be known as an eccentric madman. His vision for Dune was incredibly unconventional, but great science fiction is visual and thought provoking. The 1984 David Lynch film, one in which Lynch had his name as director removed from the theatrical release, is considered a disappointing misstep. We will never know if Jodorowsky's version would have done the book justice. Thanks to the incredible documentary Jodorowsky's Dune we get a chance to peek at what could have been. Near the end of the documentary, Jodorowsky suggest that someone could use his storyboard book and make an animated film out of its contents. If we can get this done, I will be one of the first to watch the film. All ten plus hours.

RD Kulik

RD is the Head Editor for SeedSing. He is always looking for insane projects that deserve attention. Realize his dream by writing for SeedSing.