True/False 2014: Jodorowsky’s Dune

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After seeing Jodorowsky’s Dune, here’s what I know about director Alejandro Jodorowsky: He’s a little crazy, he has an amazing imagination, and he’s not afraid to chase exactly what he wants.

Throughout the documentary, which was directed by Frank Pavich, Jodorowsky tells several stories about recruiting people for his dream adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune. Most of them go something like this:

I saw that man’s work, and I knew, he is the one! So I called his agent [or encountered him at a party, or chased him down at a restaurant] and said I wanted him for the movie. And he said yes.

Artists. Writers. Pink Floyd. Salvador Dalí. Orson Welles. Whoever Jodorowsky wants, Jodorowsky gets.

Unfortunately, because of financial problems, Jodorowsky never actually got his movie. But this documentary doesn’t give the story a sad ending. As the True/False host said while introducing Jodorowsky’s Dune, it’s about a failed movie, but it feels like it’s about an artistic triumph.

The great thing about Jodorowsky’s Dune is that its creators took a fun topic and made a fun documentary. It has colors, it has animations, it has fun music. It lets its crazy cast of characters shine.

Jodorowsky is something of a force of nature, and his energy is infectious. When he laughs,  you laugh. When he makes crazy noises or outlandish statements, you laugh. When his cat hops onto his lap during an interview, you pause for a second to appreciate the cuteness of the moment, then you laugh some more.

Still, Jodorowsky is not a joke, and he’s not treated like one. It’s very clear that for all his eccentricity, he has an amazing ambition and artistic vision. He knew the movie he wanted to make, he found the people he wanted to make it, and he got as close as he could to getting it done.

At the end of the movie, you get a glimpse of the massive, sketched-out script, and it’s mind-blowing. He planned every line, every shot, and it looks like it would have been great. And, as a montage goes on to show, it appears to have had an influence on dozens of films that came after it; some shots from Star Wars and more are nearly identical.

Given its electric protagonist and entertaining content, Jodorowsky’s Dune never gets boring. The pacing was great. The interviews tell the story perfectly. Some scenes include sketch-style animations that add such a nice touch and fit perfectly with the work-in-progress tone of the film.

Of the movies I saw during the 2014 True/False Film Fest, Jodorowsky’s Dune was definitely the one I enjoyed the most. I would love to have the opportunity to see it again.

Check out the trailer here.

Note: This review is part of a series of reviews of movies I saw during the 2014 True/False Film Fest, an annual four-day film festival in Columbia, Mo. More reviews coming soon!

Jodorowsky’s Dune — Happy Valley — Private ViolenceDemonstration — Stop-Over (L’Escale) — Miraculous Tales — Rich Hill

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