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The Greatest Sci-Fi Movie that might have been...

"The mind is like a universe; it's constantly expanding."
Alejandro Jodorowsky
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Following the success of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Alejandro Jodorowsky was given his choice of film project by his eager producer and friend, Michel Seydoux. Jodorowsky picked Dune by Frank Herbert (despite how he hadn't actually read the book yet) and for the next two years sought out the means and manpower to make the feature film adaptation a reality. This film would have had a soundtrack by Pink Floyd and Magma. It would have had character designs by the then up-and-coming Mœbius and H. R. Giger. It would have had an All-Star Cast consisting of (but not limited to) Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí, and Mick Jagger. It would have been at least 14 hours long...

That is, if it hadn't fallen through when Jodorowsky attempted to find a studio that would fund such an ambitious mammoth of a production.

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Tropes:

  • Adaptation Inspiration: Alejandro didn't want to be beholden to the plot of the book, but deigned to use many of its themes, set-pieces, and characters in his largely original story.
  • All-Star Castinvoked: Jodorowsky's dream cast included Orson Welles (as Baron Harkonnen), Salvador Dalí (as the Emperor), Gloria Swanson (as Reverend Mother Mohiam), Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Udo Kier and Amanda Lear, among others.
  • Bishōnen / Agent Peacock / The Fighting Narcissist: Feyd-Rauther certainly seems to be this in illustrations, looking something like Jareth the Goblin King and in one sketch, even wearing what looks like tights and high-heels whilst performing a Slouchof Villainy with a sword in one hand.
  • Doorstopper: Jodorowsky's storyboards and design notes for the film were encompassed in a massive and colourful bible the size of a phone book.
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  • Epic Movie: The film, if completed, would have been one of the largest examples of this in history; anywhere from 14 to 20 hours long, with an All-Star Cast that included Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali, art design by Moebius and H.R. Giger, a soundtrack by both Pink Floyd and Magma, visual effects that have yet to be equaled even today, and a budget well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The main reason it fell through is because it was simply too big and too weird for any studio to take a chance on. But fortunately, as a result, we got Star Wars instead!
  • Loophole Abuse: Dali demanded an exorbitant salary for his role as the Emperor because he wanted to be the most handsomely paid actor in the world as an artistic gaff. Alejandro planned to get around this requirement by shooting only a few scenes with the eccentric artist only to replace him almost immediately with a primitive robotic duplicate with the in-universe excuse that the Emperor feared assassination and would thus go into hiding for most of the movie.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Dali demanded that his character, the Padishah Emperor, sit on a throne that was a toilet made of two intersecting dolphins, with one mouth for the genitalia, one for the anus, because Dali thought it distasteful to mix "the wee and the excrement" in his terms. He wasn't comfortable with full-frontal nudity however, so he asked to have a body double play the Emperor for the scenes in which he took a pee and a dump in the mouths of two ceramic dolphins.
  • Schadenfreude: After Jodorowsky's project was cancelled, he was initially frightened to hear that it had been turned over to David Lynch since he knew Lynch had the talent and style to do justice to a Dune adaptation, but after the release of Lynch's film, Jodorowsky was relieved to see that it flopped largely because of Executive Meddling.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film would have opened up with an Epic Tracking Shot beginning from the outer reaches of the universe, going through multiple star systems and colorful space ships, before finally zooming into the fly-ridden corpse rotting away on Dune itself.
  • Training from Hell: Jodorowsky subjected his own 12-year-old son Brontis to a very demanding training regimen in martial arts, swordsmanship and knife fighting to prepare him to play the part of Paul Atreides: 6 hours a day, 7 days a week, and for 2 whole years. No word yet on whether or not Brontis had any choice in this or if he was okay with it.
  • What Could Have Beeninvoked: An entire documentary on this hypothetical movie.

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