It is the sad plight of the dreamer to be ahead of his time, to have ideas and ambitions that simply dwarf societal limitations.
The documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune” offers a measure of justice for one such individual: the acclaimed cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (“The Holy Mountain”). In the ’70s, long before David Lynch got ahold of the property, Jodorowsky planned an extraordinarily elaborate adaption of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”
This would be the movie to end all movies, a “sacred” work, as Jodorowsky, interviewed in the present-day by documentarian Frank Pavich, never tires of reminding us. It’d have featured cutting-edge technology, complex camerawork, the surreal art of H.R. Giger and Moebius, and a cast featuring Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger, all in service of an overall approach that simulated the experience of tripping on LSD.
It was, in other words, doomed from the outset, the product of a man with a limitless imagination and eye for talent but an inability to think practically, to modify his vision according to the times.
Pavich’s documentary traces the aborted production’s history through interviews with Jodorowsky and other individuals involved, expert testimonials and period images. It depicts a heady time of bold plans and unchecked ideas, a moment imbued with the promise of artistic freedom unchecked by limitations and filled with a deep belief in movie magic.
Most notably, the film offers Jodorowsky the chance to bring his vision to life. His storyboards, compiled in an enormous book, are animated, at times frame-by-frame, as the filmmaker excitedly shares his thinking behind various scenes.
In a sense, “Jodorowsky’s Dune” is a tantalizing tease. We’ll probably never get to see what surely would have been one of the most fascinating movies ever made. The documentary also, however, represents the righting of a wrong, finally giving this dreamer his due.
Documentary by Frank Pavich
Playing at Lincoln Plaza and Film Forum