Nicolas Winding Refn
Directed by Frank Pavich
If you’re reading Daily Grindhouse, you’re likely familiar with the work of the Chilean-French mad genius Alejandro Jodorowsky. Perhaps you’ve seen his psychotronic masterpieces EL TOPO or THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, or have dipped into his written work: a massive variety of novels, poetry and comics. Still, one work you have not seen is his attempted adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal science fiction novel DUNE, which spectacularly imploded in the mid-70s after an extensive pre-production nearly willed it into existence.
Cult movie fans have gobbled up rumors and hearsay about the project for decades, but director Frank Pavich has pulled together most of the surviving players to tell the complete story (at least as close as possible). Most importantly, he has the brilliant mind and spirit of Jodorowsky himself; who so fuels the story with his continued passion for the project that it’s impossible to take your eyes off of him. To match his ambition, Jodorowsky surrounded himself with monstrous talents; Chris Foss, H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon, Salvador Dali were to appear. Orson Welles was to play a role. Pink Floyd was going to contribute to the soundtrack. It all sounds like some sort of fever dream version of what pre-STAR WARS science fiction film-making could have become. But for a brief moment the stars almost aligned to allow it to happen.
Watching the players come together in this ode to imagination is a joy, and with spirited commentary from Nicolas Winding Refn, HARDWARE’s Richard Stanley and critics Devin Faraci and Drew McWeeny, there’s hardly a chance to catch your breath in the too short 88 minute run time. Still, by the end you both have an appreciation for the sheer amount of work that went into almost making this wonderful fantasy a reality, and a fairly clear understanding of why it never came to be.
Doug “Sweetback” Tilley
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