Jodorowsky’s Dune Review by Aneesh Raikundalia

The following is a documentary charting the creation of the unmade film 'Jodorowsky’s Dune' based on the sci-fi novel of the same name, by Frank Herbert.

Dune by visionary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is possibly the greatest film never made. In fact that might not be a debate at all.

In the succeeding documentary, the makers not only chart the films making to obsolete destruction but also the career of the wonderfully abstract man that dared to dream.

His fascination with the project, screams out from the screen. As the documentary filters through Jodorowsky's ambition to make this daunting project, we see a man gladly consumed by the idea of this epitome of science fiction literature and the power it holds.

In a particular point in the documentary, Jodorowsky recalls his first meeting with his longtime friend Michel Seydoux. Seydoux assured him they would make any film together.

So what did Jodorowsky want to make?


This is when he lights up. It really informs you to the extent of passion this man has for the literature but more importantly as he puts it, for the idea of this fascinating unmakable feature. The cult classic director doesn't stop there, he goes in detail about his first encounter with the work and his scripting process.

He speaks with an unbridled exuberance of the spirited warriors he will need to embark on this great quest. To accomplish making this film, he will need people fighting with the same intensity he does to make this project, this dream a reality.  Such as his talented storyboard artist and as he likes to call him 'his camera'; Jean Giraud AKA Moebius.

A mind blowing sequence early on, a sequence of sketches of what would have been the opening of 'Dune' will bring you to tears. The sadness that this work of art, never got made is juxtaposed by the eagerness with which Jodorowsky and those around him describe this marvel.

'Dune' in its entirety would have changed the landscape of science fiction in cinema, being produced after Kubrick's landmark film '2001: A Space Odyssey', it would have become the next step and a giant shadow over George Lucas's 'Star Wars' saga.

It's the guaranteed defining milestone that doesn't exist, is what makes 'Dune' such a tragedy despite this man's resistance to never think of this film as a failure but possibly his greatest success. Of course, Jodorowsky is a visually powering director, as such he's not a man to compromise and it shows in some of his latter dealings with his work.


This doesn't excuse his arrogance, but it makes him an admirable figure who knew what he wanted and understood the power of the text like no other. He also shows regret in pushing his vision too far by forcing his son to lose his innocence, as he trained to become the protagonist for his father’s creativity. It humanizes this hyper active master of cinema.

Salvador Dali's introduction into the project makes for a rollercoaster ride and probably one of the earlier signs, of it falling through. Like the totalitarian emperor he was set to play, Dali would horde over the picture but Alejandro and Seydoux would outsmart his expensive demands.

These small bits and pieces, Jodorowsky reveals through the documentary really visually engage you into understanding what this magnum opus would have looked like. Dali's introduction also bringing him to the fearsome wonders of the works of H.R. Giger and setting his villains into tone.

From Mick Jagger to Orson Welles, Jodorowsky's intuition is shown to be on a whole other level. His instinct on knowing the characters and who would suit them, once again exemplifying how truly his heart and soul was linked to this project.

Each piece of glorious artwork, each calculated move by Alejandro, each deviation from source, each justified indulgence and each clashing ego all could have been a foreshadowing of the fall to come. Yet that's where the brilliant Jodorowsky clinches it.

His persistence against all odds leaves him with a film ready to be made, but then; enter Hollywood.

The juggernauts of film making, the big money men loved the visual splendor of 'Dune' presented in a book by Seydoux but they never understood the visionary magic of Jodorowsky's work. That is where the true tragedy of Dune strikes at you.

As an audience pulled into this documentary, the narrative the people involved in this project create can break your heart when you understand the sad value of art and genius those in power have. Their small minds unable to comprehend this grand vision.

One of the most profound moments is when Jodorowsky finally breaks down, after smiling through thanks to the hold Dune has on him. He pulls out money from his pocket and denounces its value, in front of that art he has strived to make.

It's a sad portrait that can really move any aspiring filmmaker to comprehend their own vision and the strength against the tide you must have to make what you dream a reality.

Finally each person speaks out, placing their cards on the table. All of these warriors, dreamers and achievers regretting the loss of their existence but never hating a project they still admire and are proud of to this day. The greatest heartbreak, that of Alejandro Jodorowsky. The man, the visionary who dared to dream.

Finally David Lynch's Dune rears its ugly head and like a puppet master, Alejandro grabs you once again. His sheer joy at knowing the film failed is juxtaposed by his realization at the sad destruction of Lynch's own vision. Giving him something to once again think about how if he hadn't the strength to not give in, his dream could have become a nightmare.

In truth, I've used a lot of words to describe Jodorowsky and his passion project but they ring hollow. There's no word, nothing you can say that can hold a candle to what this film meant for him and who he is as a filmmaker.

What can be said and is known for a fact is that the power of 'Dune' is so far reaching. It has in some form come to influence a lot of film techniques and aesthetic choices in the gorgeous genre of science fiction and even beyond. It's a dual conflict, that makes you sad that Dune has been taken from so much but also at peace that the film and its legacy live on.

As the documentary puts it, the history of cinema would be different if 'Dune' were not even thought of as a potential to be a great cinematic piece.

As an aspiring filmmaker, I have come to admire this man. Who now at 84 has not given up, who rose from adversity and still champions his aspirations. He uses the idea for 'Dune' in his comics and still crafts movies.

He also has the humility, to want this project to be made even in animation by anybody as long as they can do it according to his script. If his vision were to be imprinted forever in the annals of cinema, Alejandro Jodorowsky would smile no matter where he will be. This is an awe inspiring person to gladly understand.

So at the end of it, any cinema lover will be thankful for this documentary that allows us to get as close as we can to this majestic piece and the genius of the man behind it. Here's to 'Dune' and Alejandro Jodorowsky! Check this one out.