Critics' Pick

Jodorowsky's Dune (PG-13)

Documentary 90 min. March 21, 2014
By Alan Scherstuhl
The most perfect works of art are those suspended between conception and realization, the ones that seize you up with how great they're gonna be. Alejandro Jodorowsky's daft, surrealist, possibly impossible adaptation of Dune, Frank Herbert's spice-mining science-fiction novel, was laid out, shot by mad shot, in a beautiful book that Jodorowsky (director of the still-gobstopping avant freakouts El Topo and The Holy Mountain) and producer Michel Seydoux shopped around Hollywood in the mid '70s. Jodorowsky wrote a script in a French castle, storyboarded it out with comics artist Jean "Mœbius" Giraud, hired newbie H.R. Giger to design alien worlds, talked Pink Floyd into doing the music after upbraiding them for eating hamburgers in his presence, and wooed for his cast Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dalí. As an 84-year-old Jodorowsky tells it in the impassioned present-day interview segments that make this doc a knockout comedy, all three of those heavyweights were game. Seydoux declares today that any masterpiece takes some madness but admits, "Dune had, perhaps, too much." Early on, Jodorowsky lays out his goals for his Dune, which he considered not just a movie but "the coming of a god." He would stir in audiences the hallucinatory effects of LSD; he would open the minds of young people to the "sacred" and the "free." He likens adapting the novel to being a groom on a wedding night. If you want to get a baby, he says in his occasionally uncertain English, "You need to rape the bride. I was raping Frank Herbert! But with love." Not long before that, the jovial fellow shushes his mewling Siamese. At least we have this gem.
Frank Pavich Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Brontis Jodorowsky, Nicolas Winding Refn, Richard Stanley, Devin Faraci Sony Pictures Classics

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