This is a documentary of “the making of” a film which never was made. The unrealized dream of filming Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel Dune would have included a madly eclectic collaboration of brilliantly creative characters - including Orson Wells, Pink Floyd, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and Jean “Moebius” Giraud brought together by the irrepressibly charismatic Chilean director, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who had achieved cult icon status as a result of EL TOPO, which became a midnight classic in the early 1970’s and followed by THE HOLY MOUNTAIN in 1973, a hallucinogenic acid trip of a film. He had received the funding from a Frenchman Michel Seydoux and had reached tentatiave agreements with all the principals including a negotiation with the impossibly demanding Salvador Dali who wanted to be the most expensive actor ever to appear in a film and was asking $100,000 a minute. (The final solution was to use him for only five minutes). It would have been easy to dismiss this grand ambition as some sort of artistic hubris if it had not been so meticulously thought out and visually presented. He had hired the best artists and animators to create elaborate storyboards with costume and character drawings, special effects diagrams. All of this carefully rendered, detailed information was bound in a 300 page volume which was taken to the studios. (Pavich makes the case that these volumes were later used as source material for block buster science fiction films which came years later). Several members of the DUNE team went on to work on Ridley Scott’s Aliens and there is much that seems familiar in the Star Wars films Nonetheless, after two million dollars and two years and that was all they had to show for it, Seydoux felt he could not afford to go forward. So the project was abandoned and the rights were bought by Dino De Laurentiis and David Lynch directed what was famously considered one of the most expensive disasters in film history. It is just possible that it is unfilmable. We may never know.

But the real thrill of this film is the infectious creative energy of “Jodo” and how he was able to cajole and convince both the money and talent to believe in his vision and to jump on board and how he remained undaunted by the stillbirth of the film. He was, and still is, at the age of 84, a galvanizing personality who has gone on without stopping, writing poetry, graphic novels, and a new film, DANCE OF REALITY, about his boyhood in Chile, with his son Brontis playing his father, which premiered at Cannes last year. It is a brilliant insight into the creative workings of an unorthodox character and the complexities of the collabortive process. He is such a power house who still has the ability to step outside of himself and see the cosmic humor and one is kept spellbound by the man’s mind. It is totally fascinating to be able to see up close the mind of a benevolent mad genius.

Review by Belle McIntyre



Oscar Murillo "A Mercantile Novel" at David Zwirner Gallery