Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sketches for Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune

I'm planning on picking up the Blu-Ray edition of David Lynch's Dune in the next few weeks, its always been a favourite film of mine despite the critical mauling the film regularly receives. Possibly the greatest sci-fi film never made has to be Alejandro Jodorowsky's adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic novel. Jodorowsky was hired on to direct the film in 1974, and after two years and two million dollars worth of pre-production the film was abandoned after the French financier's balked at the scope of Jodorowsky's vision.

Jodorowsky had amassed quite a team for his production of Dune - conceptual artists HR Giger, Jean 'Moebius' Giraud and Chris Foss, Dan O'Bannon was hired to supervise special effects, Pink Floyd were proposed for soundtrack duties, and Salvador Dali was to appear as the Emperor of the universe. No footage was ever shot for the film so all we are left with are various artworks for the film, including five wonderfully dark and strange paintings by Alien designer HR Giger. The final two paintings below post-date the Jodorowsky production.


  1. Undoubtedly one of the greatest non films of all time. The list of people who were going to work on that still bowls me over now when I read it.
    Knowing your wide and receptive musical mind Wes are you familiar with the composer Klaus Schulze - soundtracker extraordinaire and one time Tangerine Dream member?
    He did an album in the late 70s called Dune, but truth be told I'm not entirely sure how influenced it was by Herbert's work, anyway it's a great luminous work full of warm analogue synths and that rather pleasing and typical New Agey sound of that era which I'm quite partial to.
    But the ultimate Dune-influenced album has to be Visions of Dune by Zed aka Bernard Sjazner an incredible sound and visual artist from France who was responsible for some extraordinarily prescient electronic music in the late 70s and early 80s.
    Anyway his Visions of Dune is an absolute must-hear if you're not already familiar with it, a truly enveloping and expanding audio experience that is really heightened when listened to on headphones. He perfectly captures the world that Herbert created and I think that as a representation of Herbert's worlds this comes closer to the otherworldly and epic visions contained within the literature than a lot of the subsequent film and TV adaptations (this is coming from a massive Lynch's Dune fan too.)

  2. Klaus Schulze I know (although I seem to have missed the Dune LP), but Bernard Sjazner is new to me. I'm gonna track that record down over the weekend. Great to hear from another Dune fan, I still get frustrated that the film still ends up in lists of cinematic follies. I've even read Lynch bad mouthing the film which is a great shame. Considering the sheer complexity of the novel, I think the film did a very good job of compressing it down to a very palatable two hours. But yes the Jodorowsky film would have been extraordinary - Jodorowsky directing Dali - amazing !

  3. Yeah, I'm on the bandwagon - this Dune would have been incredible, no matter how it turned out storywise. I have not read the book(s). I have not seen the 1984 movie either. I would like to - and if that Blu-Ray made it out that sounds like the ticket. I do have two small connections to the movie - when I interviewed Dean Stockwell for Psychotronic Video magazine he told an interesting story that David Lynch making Dune was the reason he had a "third act" in his career - after being a child actor and a young adult actor. Apparently he was almost out of the business in the early 80's, selling real estate in the American Southwest. He got a job on a movie shooting in Mexico (Alsino and the Condor). While there, he runs into David Lynch, prepping Dune. Lynch had Stockwell mixed up with Brandon DeWilde - a different child star who'd died early. Lynch told Stockwell he was shocked he was still alive - and wished there was a part for him in Dune. Stockwell went home, then got a call - an actor in Dune had dropped out - so Stockwell got the role - and it was enough heat to get his career going again, leading to many more roles in the mid 80's and eventually Quantum Leap.

    The other connection I had to Dune is best told by this blog post from LGOOH:


  4. Craig, that's an incredible story, many thanks, what a great comment ! Wow, to be in the right place at the right time and be the wrong person ! I was thinking about Dean Stockwell just yesterday - he starred in 3 of my favourite American films of the 80's - Paris Texas, To Live And Die In LA, Blue Velvet. Tremendous actor. I just had a brief look at his wiki page and he's now 78 !

    Thanks for the link, incredible post - I would encourage everyone reading this to head over to Craig's excellent blog right now !