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With Jim Sabatini

Jodorowsky's Dune

Jodorowsky's Dune

Rated: PG-13 for some violent and sexual images and drug references.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 25, 2014 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

Frank Pavich's documentary of a doomed epic has a fascination about it, notably for sci-fi enthusiasts and neophytes.

Jodorowsky's Dune (in English, French and Spanish with English subtitles) includes the vision of "spiritual warriors" amidst the planning stages to realize the eponymous Chilean helmer (first name Alejandro now an octogenarian) who planned (around four decades ago) an extensive adaptation of the seemingly unfilmable novel Dune by Frank Herbert.

Preproduction expenditures accrued from this elaborate undertaking by Michel Seydoux who would sell the rights to Dino DeLaurentis who eventually produced the 1984 David Lynch folly (along with daughter Raffaella) which featured rock star Sting. It would lead to studios pulling away from what seemed less amenable and more impenetrable to mainstream success. Pavich's convocation of Jodo known as the forefather of the strange late-night features like the psychedelic El Topo and The Holy Mountain and Seydoux after long-standing misunderstood ill-will happens to be an emotional highpoint.

In walking through the preparations including the set and costume designing with supposed commitment from varied personalities as Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, and Orson Welles who required his own Paris chef acolytes and admirers like Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) aver that a cinematic groundbreaker would have resulted if not aborted. That's not including son Brontis (now in his 50s) in a linchpin part which required rigorous physical training.

What had the feel of a surreal mind bender (from the premise of a "spice" spurring celestial strife) from sketches and storyboards featured the talents of concept artist H.R. Giger, sci-fi illustrator Chris Foss and special effects coordinator Dan O'Bannon who would go on to be part of the technicians who helped make Ridley Scott's Alien an exemplary genre example. The filmmakers do well from the antecedent's original artwork augmented in part by composer Kurt Stenzel and lenser David Cavallo.

What may not be a fair-minded account given Pavich's affinity towards a sportive, odd arguably obsequious poet and graphic artist among other vocations still has a remarkably bittersweet nostalgic flair especially when it comes to talking heads like Richard Stanley who can commiserate not being able to fulfill a completed option. An oddly illuminating  account of what might have been even if gilded up a bit provides the kind of prescient, rich evidence of "the epic that never was," one that may be continuing to spice up filmic, even special-effects concepts.

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