While I'm away in the vast regions of Newport for the Newport Beach Film Fest in town, a tasteful art-house screening can always act as a siren call. Lo and behold, the Frida Cinema is magically taking me up on that declaration by hosting a week-long engagement of screening a documentary that's been making waves in its limited release: Jodorowsky's Dune.
It explores a film project that was so ambitious in its pre-production process and its subsequent failure of execution that just the idea itself became legendary. Alejandro Jodorowsky, the mastermind behind said project, tells this story of wanting to make a visionary adaptation of the Frank Herbert sci fi classic Dune, and explains his ideas, thought process and its difficulties, leading what could have been one of the most game-changing films of all time to an idea that has been lost in the annals of film history.
If you know anything about Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, you know his movies are fantastical; yet even a director with a striking body of work can fall under the cracks of obscurity, so here's a short introduction: His two most famous cinematic haunts are cult classics today: the spiritual El Topo and the mind-bending Holy Mountain, both made in the 1970s when the counterculture was beginning to burn out and cinema was about to give way to heavy blockbusters. El Topo and Holy Mountain gained notoriety as art house films (John Lennon supposedly even put in money to produce El Topo) but both films never really gained wider release beyond the midnight movie circuit. (Which could be just as well, as these movies aren't ideal for a family outing at the matinee...)
Back in 1974 on the heels of Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky set out to make Dune, with a list of credits that would have made cinephiles swoon: Orson Welles! Salvador Dali! Mick Jagger! And an all-star production team that would have included H.R. Giger and French comic artist Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), and a score produced by Pink Floyd. But even after 3,000 storyboards were made, costumes designed and concept art painted, the film could not be made. Was it artistic hubris or financial stress that lead the project to its demise? You'll get to find the answer to those burning questions through these lengthy interviews with Jodorowsky himself. Here's a trailer to pique your interest even more:
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Jodorowsky's Dune screens this week until May 1st.
Screening times and more information on the film can be found at the Frida's website here.