The greatest movie never made: Jodorowsky’s Dune

Released earlier this year by Sony Pictures, Jodorowsky's Dune is a documentary that goes behind the scenes on the craziest Dune adaptation that never was.


Directed by Frank Pavich, the film tells the story of Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who spent most of his time in the 1970s trying to adapt Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel to a movie.

[quote_right]I wanted to make something sacred. A film that gives LSD hallucinations without taking LSD[/quote_right]

Would Dune have been released, it would have changed science fiction and cinema forever. Instead of Star Wars and Ridley Scott’s Alien, there may have just been Dune: a movie nobody has ever seen.

The film would’ve starred Jodorowsky’s 12-year-old son as part of a cast that included Orson Welles, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, and Salvador Dali, as the mad emperor of the galaxy. Jodorowsky also approached Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel about scoring the film, and wanted H.R. Giger and Jean Giraud to work on the set design. The director’s ambitions were grand, despite the fact that he hadn’t even read Dune.

In the trailer, Jodorowsky explains: “I wanted to make something sacred. A film that gives LSD hallucinations without taking LSD.”

[quote_right]I did not want LSD to be taken, I wanted to fabricate the drug’s effects[/quote_right]

Alejandro Jodorowsky is the avant-garde filmmaker behind cult classics like El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and in 1975 he began work on a surrealistic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. His vision was trippy and fantastic — “I did not want LSD to be taken, I wanted to fabricate the drug’s effects,” Jodorowsky says. To bring it to life, he assembled a legendary creative team, including artists Jean “Moebius” Giraud and H.R. Giger, with future Alien writer Dan O’Bannon handling visual effects. Jodorowsky convinced everyone from Salvador Dalí to Orson Welles to star in his epic. Then the filmmaker assembled a series of books containing every storyboard, ship design, and piece of art — and sent them off to the major studios to help get funding.

The movie never received the last 15 million of funding it needed to be completed, but Jodorowsky’s Dune makes the case that the film changed the world anyway: its influence popping up in everything from Star Wars to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

To give an impression of what might have been, some of the artwork that was released has been included below.

Artwork by Chris Foss.
Artwork by H.R. Giger.
Artwork by Chris Foss.
Artwork by Chris Foss.
Artwork by Chris Foss.
‘The Emperor’s Artificial Planet,’ by Chris Foss.
Artwork by H.R. Giger.
Artwork by H.R. Giger.

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  • Evan W44

    That’s a movie I’d definitely be interested in watching.

    • The Stoned Society

      Same here! We finally got around to watching the documentary yesterday and it perfectly fits our consciousness hub!