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Alejandro Jodorowsky had originally planned on filming Dune in the early-'70s, and had enlisted the help of Jean Giraud and H.R. Giger to create the movie's visual style. Salvador Dalí was enlisted to play the part of the Emperor, and Jodorowsky also intended to cast his own son Brontis Jodorowsky as Paul, David Carradine as Duke Leto, Orson Welles as the Baron, and Gloria Swanson as the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. The soundtrack was to be done by Pink Floyd, whose compositions would represent the progressive House of Atreides, and influential 70s French progressive rock band Magma, whose compositions would represent the evil House of Harkonnen. According to Jodorowsky, "The project was sabotaged in Hollywood. It was French and not American. Their message was 'not Hollywood enough'. There was intrigue, plunder. The storyboard was circulated among all the big studios. Later, the visual aspect of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) strangely resembled our style. To make Alien (1979), they called Moebius [Giraud], Chris Foss, Giger, Dan O'Bannon, etc. The project signaled to Americans the possibility of making a big show of science-fiction films, outside of the scientific rigor of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The project of Dune changed our lives." Jodorowsky also planned on making numerous changes to the source material, including making Duke Leto a eunuch and the spice a blue sponge. Author Frank Herbert openly despised these concepts. See more »
Chris Foss, Artist - DUNE:
I still haven't read the book, No. I have no idea what the actual story is. None whatsoever. It all came through Alejandro and the script. Yeah. So, as far as I'm concerned, the story of Dune is what Alejandro told me it was.
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While this film is a fairly marvellous documentary, how it effects you is largely down to what you already know, and also what you remember of the 70s.
I had heard rumours about an original attempt to create Dune (something similar happened to LotR) but didn't know it was an attempt by a mad Svengali who hired some of the greatest talent available.
As the names were mentioned, my mouth started to drop open - was this a hoax? Why had I never heard of this? Did he really track down Orson Welles by searching for good restaurants in Paris? Was Jodorowsky a fantasist? The interviews they did get were fairly stellar. During which the alarmingly nutty director himself mangled English and reality describing his glorious quest to create the greatest human experience.
This has more than a shade of a mockumentary about it simply because of the grandiose material. And on reflection, we should have seen more. Just seeing Gigers models was astonishing.
Keeping Jodorowsky on screen revealed what the film could have been, as well as why it could never have worked. The moment when he finally saw the trite Dino de Horrendous version of Dune that sank without trace in the 80s was lovely.
(Seen at the London Film Festival)
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