The other day, I mentioned that I’d like to see Jodorowsky’s Dune made into a movie. But then I realized…that’s a terrible idea. For those that haven’t seen the documentary of the same name, Jodorowsky’s Dune was a version of Dune that was never actually made into a movie by the Chilean filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky. Watch this trailer, then go watch the documentary, but unfortunately you can’t watch the movie Dune itself. Or you can, but it’s that awful David Lynch version (however, the fan-cut is a real improvement as it fleshes out the story better).
Doesn’t it look fantastic? Originally planned back in 1975-1976, Jodorowsky’s Dune was the predecessor to the version we’re all sadly familiar with. The movie was axed before filming because of commercial doubts. Eventually the movie rights lapsed in 1982, but prior to that disappointment, Jodorowsky devoted himself to assembling a crew of actors and artists to make Dune a reality.
He cast his own twelve-year-old son as Paul and David Carradine as Duke Leto. Salvador Dali was to be the emperor and Orson Welles, the Baron Harkonen. Mick Jagger got the role of Feyd-Rautha, a character later played by Sting in the Lynch version. Quite an eclectic collection of people.
Beyond casting, Jodorowsky had a grand operatic vision for Dune’s look and feel and so brought together legendary science fiction talent to achieve that design, including Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Ron Cobb, Dan O’Bannon, and H.R. Geiger. Jodorowsky clearly has an eye for talent because although this dream team he assembled never actually made Dune with him, many of them went on to make Alien shortly thereafter, winning an Academy Award for their work.
A book of concept art and storyboards for Jodorowsky’s Dune exists, but there’s not much else that remains besides its own influence on science fiction films that followed years later (see Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Alien, etc.).
Which brings me back to my original point, because although I think Jodorowsky's version of Dune could have been an amazing movie, I don’t think it would be a good movie now. I like the podcast, The Weekly Planet, and the hosts often say how you should never re-watch old shows or movies because they never live up to your memories for a variety of reasons.
I think the same rule applies here. The never-made Jodorowsky’s Dune will always be infinitely better in our imaginations than it could ever be in real life, the same way memories of old stories are often better than the stories themselves. Some fiction is better left untold or only half told to let the reader/viewer participate in its construction, which may have always been half the fun anyway. How else do you explain the popularity of fanfiction?