Jodorowsky’s Dune


More movies are conceived of, and even start production, in Hollywood than ever get made. The ratio is likely so high as to strain credibility. In extremely rare cases, the failed production becomes legend. In recent history, Gilliam’s Don Quixote come to mind… it too inspired a great documentary, Lost in La Mancha (and the film may yet be made).

Jodorowsky is infamous in his singularity of belief and vision when it comes to his movies. Quality is something you have to judge for yourself, but you can’t decry his efforts; what he creates is what he intends or guides, unencumbered by studios or outside judgment. He is an artist and a spiritualist who truly believes that art can transform people and the world and even transcend reality.

In the early 70s, Jodorowsky took this combination of force of nature, egotism, and luck, and pulled together a collection of legends and soon-to-be-legends to bring one of the most important books of science fiction and political-social commentary to the screen: Dune. They designed it all, lined up actors, musicians, and created detailed storyboards bound into a book. They had it all ready to go, but never got enough money to produce the product. Over the years, it has been unofficially named “the greatest movie never made.” True or not, the talent involved and the output of those efforts is nothing short of extra-ordinary. And the story, from many of those involved and from Jodorowsky himself, is actually well told and riveting. There is passion for this project that even 40 years of distance has not been able to quench.

The disc, however, is a disaster, with half the subtitles cut off. The interviews flip between English, Spanish, German, and French with rapidity. The subtitles are simply necessary for most of us. I tried changing resolutions on my TV and via my Oppo, and could do no better than seeing the top quarter of any second line of text. A very frustrating experience. Perhaps it was the gods of irony that produced this mess… a weird karmic representation of the path of the film it documents? What I do know is that the story was enough to get me to suffer through the problem, but it detracted from an otherwise great documentary. I don’t know if the problem was solely mine; it would appear that the disc I saw is a rental version as it lacks all the extras. I’ve never seen this issue with other films–and I watch a LOT of foreign film–so I am confident the issue is with the edition of the disc I received from Netflix. I’m not seeing similar comments from those that purchase the full edition. The documentary is certainly worth seeing, but it is your gamble to make on which disc to do so.

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