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Jodorowsky’s Dune: The greatest movie never made?

Jodorowsky’s Dune – a science-fiction project seen as the forerunner to Alien – still has influence today. Tom Brook reports.

“For me, Dune will be the coming of a God.” So says Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who must have had an imagination of biblical proportions to dream up his big screen vision of Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel. With a cast including Orson Welles, Mick Jagger and even Salvador Dalí, as well as a musical score by Pink Floyd, it has become one of the most famous movies never made.

“They never rolled camera... They storyboarded the entire film from beginning to end – 3,000 images,” says Frank Pavich, who has directed a documentary about the project. Jodorowsky’s Dune features interviews with the director, producer and artists who worked on the project. It shows that a failure can still be a source of inspiration.

The storyboard artwork was collected in a book and sent out to studios. Although they loved the idea, the eccentric  Jodorowsky bewildered them – his earlier films included the ‘acid Western’ El Topo, and the surreal fable The Holy Mountain.

“Maybe the project was supposed to end there,” says Pavich. “And then those ideas came out of that book and started to infect the world to a certain extent, [to] inspire other films.”

Jodorowsky’s Dune was proposed in 1974, before Star Wars had proved that sci-fi films could be blockbusters, and is seen as the forerunner to movies like Alien and Bladerunner. Tom Brook investigates the enduring appeal of a vision that was ahead of its time.

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