What if you had the chance to see the greatest science fiction film never produced? Unfortunately you can’t, because, as stated, it was never produced, but you can come very close! Jodorowsky’s Dune is a fascinating documentary that details the intended plans by director Alejandro Jodorowsky to create an ambitious project, utilizing the talents of many great filmmakers, artists, musicians, actors, and more. It never came to be for various reasons, but the story has now been revealed for all to see. Find out more about this captivating film and the Blu-ray it is now housed on.
As previously stated, Jodorowsky’s Dune is a film about a film that never came to be. Alejandro Jodorowsky is a visionary director of cult films such as El Topo and The Holy Mountain, who had incredibly ambitious ideas for adapting Frank Herbert’s novel Dune into an epic motion picture. In an ideal world, Jodorowsky could have had a Dune film that featured Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, and Salvador Dali, with music by Pink Floyd, and art and production designs by influential figures such as H.R. Giger (Alien) and Jean Giraud (Moebius). This never came to be, unfortunately, but Frank Pavich has directed a documentary that chronicles the story.
In a lot of ways, this film reminds me of Lost in La Mancha, the great documentary that chronicles director Terry Gilliam’s failed attempt to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort. That film actually made it to production and the doc follows what happened during filming (which makes it more tragic), but Jodorowsky’s Dune still presents a lot of great knowledge about a film that tragically did not even get past pre-production. With that in mind, this is a film that features a lot of interviews with the many people involved and some outside perspectives looking back on what could have been.
We hear a lot from Alejandro Jodorowsky, along with his producer, Michel Seydoux, who both have plenty to say about the development process. We also hear from many of the people involved at the time, such as H.R. Giger, who has passed away since this interview, various other illustrators and screenwriters, and even Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis Jodorowsky, who was supposed to be one of the stars in this film. Then we get outside info and opinions from filmmakers like Gary Kurtz (Empire Strikes Back producer) and Nicolas Winding Refn (director of Drive), among others. It is a very all encompassing-doc, when it comes to having a lot of people speak up about this film that never happened.
With all that in mind, it is great to point out how fascinating this all is. I am a person who really loves to read, hear, and watch stories about filmmaking, but even as a person who has never read all 10,000 pages of Dune or cared to see the resulting David Lynch film that eventually came out in 1984 (the sandworms I know exist in Beetlejuice and Tremors), I was enthralled by what this documentary presented. I’ve only seen one of Jodorwosky’s films, but I am certainly intrigued to see more, let alone explore the work he has done over the span of his career in general, thanks to this film and seeing how interesting a figure he seems to be. With that in mind, everything about this Dune project is very wild, given the talent that could have been involved, the imagery and storyboards presented to us, and plenty other aspects to this film.
At 90 minutes (and another half a movie in the form of deleted scenes), Jodorowsky’s Dune presents a story that just needs to be seen. We have plenty of great science fiction films that have come before and since the idea and intended filming of this production took place, but it actually does seem like audiences missed out on something pretty special, due to the ultimate failure of this project to come into reality. Still, this is one of the best movie-themed campfire tales I think I have heard in a very long time, only it has great pictures to go with it!
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Clarity/Detail: Beyond the use of archival footage, there is not much risk, these days, when it comes to documentaries that are focused on interviewing people in rooms. As a result, Jodorowsky’s Dune looks great throughout, as we can clearly see all that is going on in the interviews, but al get to see a great number of storyboards, artistic imagery, and some other effects to aid the stories being described on scenes. It is all very finely detailed throughout.
Depth: While not a film that really needs to deliver a sense of scope, given that it is a documentary, you still get a great viewing experience that encompasses a level of depth in some instances.
Black Levels: I did not notice any instances of crush. Black levels are nice and deep.
Color Reproduction: The transfer on this Blu-ray replicates the color palette quite nicely, with the blending of interview footage and the more detailed, elaborate imagery both getting their due. The film is actually quite eye-catching, which helped me to enjoy it so much more than most documentaries.
Flesh Tones: Flesh tones look natural and textures are solid.
Noise/Artifacts: This is a clean presentation, give or take some of the older footage that does not work against what the Blu-ray provided.
Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Dynamics: Something I have yet to mention is the wonderful soundtrack featured in Jodorowsky’s Dune, but it is certainly a great aspect to the film, and this Blu-ray does a fine job of presenting it, along with the range of voices heard throughout.
Low Frequency Extension: Not a tone to take from this aspect audio track, but some subtle moments.
Surround Sound Presentation: As a documentary, the sound is front-loaded during the interview segments, but the various effects heard provide more range overall.
Dialogue Reproduction: While the accents are sometimes thick and English is not always the key language, the words are loud and clear.
There is not a ton going on here in the most desired of ways, but the deleted scenes do make up half the running time of the actual film.
- Deleted Scenes – At 46 minutes, you get a lot of information that did not make it into the final cut of the film, with even more stories to take away. Certainly worth watching for those who already loved the film.
- Theatrical Trailer
- DVD Copy of the Film
This is a great documentary for those that love to hear stories of long lost art. The interviews are very entertaining, the production value of this doc is quite grand, and there is so much to learn overall. The Blu-ray does a fine job of presenting this wonderful film and while the extras are slight in terms of reporting how this film got made, there is enough deleted scenes to keep viewers satisfied. I will be very happy to keep revisiting Jodorowsky’s Dune.