Ludicrously Ambitious Failed Dune Adaptation Lands Documentary

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Ludicrously Ambitious Failed Dune Adaptation Lands Documentary

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Surrealist painters, robot doubles and an imperial throne that doubled as a toilet are just some of the things that made the ill-fated production so interesting.

Dune is a tricky book to translate into a movie. There have been many attempts, and one person - director David Lynch - even managed to succeed in the early 80s. But few attempts, whether they were successful of not, can match the sheer insane ambition of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's effort in 1974. While the project never made it past pre-production, a new documentary by Frank Pavich will soon chart its twists, turns, and numerous eccentricities.

Author Frank Herbert's book is a rich and detailed tale that weaves politics, religion, ecology and countless other elements into one of the best-loved sci-fi stories ever written. Set tens of thousands of years in the future, the book focuses on Paul Atreides, scion of House Atreides, who is sent to the desert planet Arrakis along with his family to mine the spice Melange - the most important substance in the universe - by order of the Emperor. A conspiracy between the Emperor and House Harkonnen - the Atreides' hated foe for thousands of years - forces Paul to flee into the desert, where he becomes a leader of men, and much more besides. That's really just the briefest synopsis of the book of course; there's so much going on that it's almost impossible to concisely summarize, much less film.

Jodorowsky's movie supposedly sidestepped the issue of fitting everything in with a script the size of a phone book and a run time of ten or more hours. What's more, Jodorowsky wasn't afraid to add a few ideas of his own to the project. In Jodorowsky's script, the Emperor was insane, and had an identical robot double. Jodorowsky cast surrealist painter Salvador Dali in the role, who apparently demanded that his fee be $100,000 an hour, and that the Emperor's throne also be a toilet. Jodorowsky reportedly acquiesced to both of these demands.

As strange as the project sounds, Jodorowsky was able to attract some fairly well known names, although for many of them, it was at the start if their careers before their most well-known and/or acclaimed work. The team included Dan O'Bannon, who wrote Alien and Total Recall, and H.R. Giger, who designed Alien's iconic xenomorph. The cast was similarly interesting; besides Dali it was to include Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, and David Carradine.

For the documentary, titled Jodorowsky's Dune, Pavich has interviewed the surviving members of the production team in France, Switzerland, and the UK. In the summer, the production will move to the US, to complete the second half of filming. Just a short time spent researching Jodorowsky's production yields some really interesting tidbits of information, so a full documentary should be absolutely fascinating.

Source: Heat Vision Blog

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A run time in the double digits? Wouldn't that make it a maximum of 99 minutes? That's a little below standard these days... Unless the article means double digit in HOURS, in which case, that's impressive. Might want to make that correction.

I am...very glad that this project never made it into production..

I, for one, am glad this one failed.

Two people succeeded, I think the author would find. There was also a 2000 mini-series, which was much closer to the book than the old movie.

...and I think a trimmed version of the miniseries was released to video, because I sure remember it being shorter than 292 minutes.

If you're glad this movie failed, you need to actually go and watch some Alejandro Jodorowsky films!

This should be really interesting, I always enjoy Film Doco's, especially about troubled productions. I'll keep an eye on this.

The film would have been something pretty awesome I feel. Interesting at least.

Giger sells two pieces of furniture that he designed for I believe this version of Dune on his website. While it no longer displays the prices, I remember the Harkonnen Capo chair was over $10K USD.

I approve of one choice in all of that. Mick Jagger. Seriously why didn't David Lynch snag him for his production?

uc.asc:
Two people succeeded, I think the author would find. There was also a 2000 mini-series, which was much closer to the book than the old movie.

...and I think a trimmed version of the miniseries was released to video, because I sure remember it being shorter than 292 minutes.

A mini-series isn't a movie.

Dune is probably my all-time favorite sci-fi book series. David Lynch's attempt at adapting it into a movie was, while unintentionally hilarious and memetic in its own right, absolutely terrible. His decisions to abridge the material and take a number of creative liberties did not help in the slightest. Quite frankly, I just don't think that it's possible to adapt it without butchering it as Lynch did. Given this guy's ideas, I'm very, very glad that the whole thing crashed and burned.

But at least Lynch's Dune brought forth this gem...

Wouldn't Dune work best as a SERIES of movies? Hell, they're splitting the Hobbit- I can see Dune being split into two films. And I know exactly where it would end- when Paul joins the Fremen. 2nd film would pick up from there and cover his war against house Harkonen and the climactic battle.

At first I thought that the newest adaptation of Dune in production had been shut down.

Logan Westbrook:

uc.asc:
Two people succeeded, I think the author would find. There was also a 2000 mini-series, which was much closer to the book than the old movie.

...and I think a trimmed version of the miniseries was released to video, because I sure remember it being shorter than 292 minutes.

A mini-series isn't a movie.

The movie version was probably a movie.

ajofflight:
A run time in the double digits? Wouldn't that make it a maximum of 99 minutes? That's a little below standard these days... Unless the article means double digit in HOURS, in which case, that's impressive. Might want to make that correction.

It was going to be 14 hours long from what I remember. The film is a lot like The Tourist, in that while never made Hollywood has used it to mine ideas from for decades.

Still a pity it was never made.

Hopefully, if game of Thrones succeeds, people will stop trying to cram everything into a single movie and instead make a very tight, focused TV series.

Very nice to read about that!

There is also lots of info surrounding this project to be found around the great comic by Moebius+Jodorowski, L'Incal. This epic 6-volume tale was heavily influenced by their work on Dune, and it actually influenced Lynch's film (up to *very* similar storyboards for some scenes).

Do check it out, Moebius is always worth your time. :)

I thought i was being overambitious when i tired to make a short film in a very short time practically by myself.

I was wrong.

An identical robot double? Man, there's creative freedom and there's ignoring one of the cornerstones of the universe you want to adapt to screen. Glad this wasn't produced, at least Lynch's version made me read the book. This could've put me off the whole universe forever.

unabomberman:
Hopefully, if game of Thrones succeeds, people will stop trying to cram everything into a single movie and instead make a very tight, focused TV series.

They already did that with Dune. If I recall correctly, it was better than the movie adaption by David Lynch. That film was all over the place, they had to cut way too much.

Mahorfeus:
Dune is probably my all-time favorite sci-fi book series. David Lynch's attempt at adapting it into a movie was, while unintentionally hilarious and memetic in its own right, absolutely terrible. His decisions to abridge the material and take a number of creative liberties did not help in the slightest. Quite frankly, I just don't think that it's possible to adapt it without butchering it as Lynch did. Given this guy's ideas, I'm very, very glad that the whole thing crashed and burned.

Ahh yes. Paul's sister was hilarious, and how the Baron came to his end was just slapstick on Loony Tunes-esque levels.

I'm going to go look for Dune next time I'm at the shops, buy it then read it. It sounds like a good book.

So a film adaption that never made it is now going to be released as a documentary?

I guess you could say...
*puts on sunglasses*
...the sleeper has awakened.

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Well... Jodorowskys interpretation of Dune would have been rather interesting. He is a great director, El Topo is amongst my favourite movies of all time. But on the other hand, i'm also a huge fan of David Lynch, his "Straight Story" is also one of my favourites and his interpretation of Dune wasn't really satisfying. ^^

One extra fact worth pointing out is that Pink Floyd had agreed to write the soundtrack for the Jodorwosky adaption of Dune. This being at the time that they were finishing up Dark Side Of The Moon...

Pink Floyd, Jodorowsky, Dali, Giger, and Dan O' Bannon?!

That's a surrealist dream team if ever I saw one.

I might have to actually read DUNE now.

That picture right there is classic Geiger. I would love to see anything involving his work; one of my favorite artists right beside Chris Foss.

Cowabungaa:
An identical robot double? Man, there's creative freedom and there's ignoring one of the cornerstones of the universe you want to adapt to screen.

I haven't read the books myself, but aren't computers and intelligent machines as a whole forbidden in the Dune universe? I can see why fans might have an issue...

Not to mention Dali's whole toilet throne shenanigan...

A film with Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, Orson Wells, and David Carradine!? Just bring in Vincent Price and we've got ourselves a movie.

I couldn't sit through the Dune movie. They lost me after the overlong infodump at the beginning. Maybe one day I'll actually watch the rest of the film.

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Oh Dali, you crazy throne loving robot.

If I ever get myself a time machine, I'm going to have make sure this film got made...

The thing people seem to forget about Dune whenever they talk about movies, is that the book is pretty long. The first book alone is about the same length as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and think about how much from those books didn't make it into Peter Jacksons films?

So, yeah, 14 hours sounds about right to me =p

Raiyan 1.0:
I haven't read the books myself, but aren't computers and intelligent machines as a whole forbidden in the Dune universe? I can see why fans might have an issue...

Not to mention Dali's whole toilet throne shenanigan...

Forbidden? They're considered herecy! An afront to God and all that. It's the whole reason the Dune universe is like it is.

Daverson:
The thing people seem to forget about Dune whenever they talk about movies, is that the book is pretty long. The first book alone is about the same length as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and think about how much from those books didn't make it into Peter Jacksons films?

So, yeah, 14 hours sounds about right to me =p

Wait...what? I've got the first book on my shelf here, and it's 556 pages not counting the appendix. The entire LotR trilogy has around 1000 pages, if google isn't lying.

Quaxar:
So a film adaption that never made it is now going to be released as a documentary?

I guess you could say...
*puts on sunglasses*
...the sleeper has awakened.

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!

One sees what you did there.

I knew about this project, and I've always been glad it tanked. I love the (first) books, and the Lynch movie always managed to piss me off. I can begin to imagine the reaction this surrealistic travesty would've garnered from the fans.

If you want a good media adaptation of the books, watch the Dune mini-series and its follow-up, Children of Dune. They're not perfect, but they're as good as it's going to get.

Since Dune is one of my favorite book series' of all time I don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand I don't think it's possible to make a good Dune movie, on the other hand this just sounds so ludicrous I want to check it out

David Lynch's movies was an ABOMINATION (pun intended for fans of the series), case in point being "would you like me to adjust your weirding module Muad dib?" Everyone who ever read the books asked the same question; WTF is a weirding module and what is it doing in my dune universe?!

The miniseries was a step in the right direction but just seemed to be absent of luster. Albeit it was a made for tv miniseries so most can be forgiven.

If you want to see Dune on the silver screen that bad it was already made, and handsomely popular, they just re-titled it AVATAR

Many movies are directly inspired by the Dune novels. to name a few The Matrix, Event Horizen, STAR WARS ANYONE!?

Cowabungaa:
The entire LotR trilogy has around 1000 pages, if google isn't lying.

It's not a trilogy, it's a single novel.

It's too bad they've never shown proper weirding combat. If you think to yourself: "I want to punch this guy the the ribcage above his heart, but he has his right side to me", your wanting to do this and in fact believing you already have, allows it to happen. You either appear to move incredibly fast around the opponent to their left side or in some cases seem to teleport through them. The only ones who can possibly defend against this are other weirding users.

Plus, Bene Gesserit have complete control over their musculature, even their hearts: a Bene Gesserit can literaly hit you like a ton of bricks. They can decapitate someone with a kick or punch a hole through them.

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