The documentary Jodorowsky's Dune opens this weekend, and you must go see it if you fall into one of the following categories:
- You love film
- You love the creative process
- You love imagination
- You want to understand how even failure can be a success.
Yes, I'm in the movie as a talking head, so I can't really review it exactly (although to be honest I would tell you if it sucked. I don't see a dime from the film), but I can tell you why I think it's so compelling.
The film examines the near-miss when visionary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to go from surreal cult films to Hollywood by adapting Frank Herbert's sprawling, possibly unadaptable Dune. Jodorowsky, interested in mysticism and spirituality, wanted to make a film that was ambitious beyond understanding and that also used Herbert's book as only a jumping-off point (his film would have ended with the planet Arrakis gaining sentience). Eventually the project fell apart.
Director Frank Pavich has extraordinary access not just to Jodo, who is a spritely and engaging presence onscreen even at his advanced age, but also to the book of storyboards that Jodorowky compiled. The film - which could have starred Salvador Dali as the Emperor - never happened, except on these pages. Jodorowsky's Dune allows you to peek at those pages and even animates some of the segments. It's remarkable.
While Jodorowsky's Dune is great as a history of a failed movie, it's even better as a consideration of the role of failure in creation. The fact that the movie didn't happen (technically - we could argue that the film exists, just in a format in which no other movie has ever existed, the collective consciousness) didn't stop Dune from having ripples across filmmaking and genre. It's easy to think that a failed effort is a stillborn tragedy, but the reality - as Jodorowsky's Dune shows - is that even when you fail you're still moving the ball forward. The only true failure is not trying.
That's why you have to see Jodorowsky's Dune. Where else this weekend will you get a dose of cinema history mixed with a message that is truly inspirational? Also, you get to look at my fat head.