Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)

Review #1,167

Director:  Frank Pavich
Plot:  The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Genre:  Documentary
Awards:  Nom. for Camera d'Or (Cannes).
Runtime:  88min
Rating:  NC16 for some violent and sexual images and drug references.
International Sales:  Snowfort Pictures

In competition for the Camera d'Or at Cannes, Jodorowsky's Dune as directed by Frank Pavich is a documentary I would urge cinephiles, filmmakers and people with dreams and ambition to see.  You will come out of it feeling refreshed, possibly with renewed motivation to continue dreaming, to continue to try to entertain big, bold ideas.  Every once in a while, we recognize the need to stand up again from failure, or to simply stand up in spite of the fear of failure – this documentary may just convince you to turn the corner. 

Alejandro Jodorowsky, the center of his whirlwind, and one of the most misunderstood artistes of his generation, is the subject of this fantastic documentary about a fantasy and a failed dream that is the film project "Dune".  Everything came together, including great names of their respective fields, to be involved in this ambitious project, but it failed to get studio endorsement and the funding needed to complete it, despite having confirmed pretty much every pre-production and production detail.

Pavich's work is insightful, a mixture of talking heads and artists' concepts that give us a visual orientation to Jodorowsky's bewildering yet fascinating world of "Dune".  This is a guy with great vision, and a conceptual sensibility unlike any other – rooted in fantasy, mysticism, philosophy, and as he calls it, a kind of psychomagical realism that so distinctly characterized two of his most (in)famously bizarre works – El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973). 

The blow from not successfully getting "Dune" off the ground left him with a scar.  And as you will see in Pavich’s documentary, Jodorowksy may seem high-spirited, and always eager to impress, but you can sense the hurt within him even as he proclaims that we must learn to say yes – yes to ambition, yes to failure (and move on). 

Accompanied by a stunning electronic soundtrack by Kurt Stenzel (his first feature film effort), an almost cosmic-like Vangelis-esque music mixed with modern overtones, Jodorowsky’s Dune is uplifting as it is funny.  Jodorowsky’s a charmer;  he’s also delusional, but aren’t all visionaries?

Verdict:  Fantastic documentary about a fantasy, a failed dream, accompanied by a stunning electronic soundtrack to boot, with the misunderstood Jodorowsky at the center of his whirlwind. 


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