Jodorowsky’s Dune: A Riveting Documentary for Creative Filmmaking Minds


Very few documentaries offer a glimpse behind a filmmaker’s vision like the exceptional and riveting Jodorowsky’s Dune. The documentary which had a dominate presence on last year’s film festival circuit (playing at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Fantastic Fest, AFI, etc.) showcases a cosmic blast of creativity from the mind of a genius misunderstood by a system that never gave him a chance to orchestrate his version. The exploration of this mind is fascinating and required viewing for anyone who loves movies or wants to make one.


JDunePosterSynopsis: In 1975, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose films EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN launched and ultimately defined the midnight movie phenomenon, began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12 year old son Brontis alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including HR Giger and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever. (c) Sony Classics


Jodorowsky’s Dune is a enthralling reflection on a repressed artist who wasn’t allowed to make his vision of the movie Dune. Another director ended up taking over the project and what we have is the disaster Dune as a testament to awful cinema. Jodorowsky discusses the pre-production challenges of creating that kooky world and how his dreams were dashed suddenly by the big studio system. The embrace of vivid detail was neglected for making money, yet the studio’s version of Dune was a financial disaster.


Creativity was stifled in this dashed opportunity to make something unique and even challenging. One of the people interviewed, Richard Stanley, made an excellent point about how studios want a simple description while pitching a movie (“like Twilight meets Lord of the Rings.”) Metaphysical big ideas scare the studios. Since most in that system are accountants and people focused on money, they want what generates the most revenue. Money is the issue with the studio system. Negative reactions to a risky movie re-enforces this studio fears, as shallow audiences are just as much to blame.


Creative artists can view Jodorowsky’s Dune with caution but optimism as well. Jodorowsky encourages artists to try to make the best work they can despite the studios who may try to hold them back. And in light of the loss of creativity, there was redemption of the repressed artist when the documentary explores his creative elements in future movies including Flash Gordon, Terminator, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Masters of the Universe, Contact, Prometheus, and Alien among others. This provides hope to other artists who can add elements of grand wit into larger than life, mainstream blockbusters. Sometimes those quirky moments in a big, bland movie are a way for a quirky filmmaker to challenge audiences. One day this classic documentary will inspire the current generation of younger filmmakers to experiment with the movie making process and empower them to not accept “no” for an answer.


I rate Jodorowsky’s Dune a 9 out of 10.

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About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

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