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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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Jodorowsky's Dune is a 2013 documentary film directed by Frank Pavich.

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 not having 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 a 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 Salvador Dalí as Shaddam IV, Padishah Emperor, Amanda Lear as Princess Irulan, Orson Welles as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Gloria Swanson as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, David Carradine as Duke Leto Atreides, Geraldine Chaplin as Lady Jessica, Alain Delon as Duncan Idaho, Hervé Villechaize as Gurney Halleck, Udo Kier as Piter De Vries, and Mick Jagger as Feyd-Rautha.
  • 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 Slouch of Villainy with a sword in one hand.
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  • Death by Adaptation: This version would have ended with Paul dying, but then he is "resurrected" by living on in the consciousness of everyone who knew him, and as he transcends he turns Arrakis into a flourishing planet that hurls itself throughout the cosmos to spread enlightenment.
  • Doorstopper: Jodorowsky's storyboards and design notes for the film were encompassed in a massive and colourful bible the size of a phone book.
  • 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, revolutionary visual effects, and a budget well into the hundreds of millions of dollars (it already sounds massive in the 2020s, so one has to imagine that in The '70s). The main reason it fell through is because it was simply too big and too weird for any studio to take a chance on. According to the documentary, as a result, we got Star Wars instead.
  • Food as Bribe: How Jodorowsky persuaded Orson Welles to play the Baron:
    Orson Welles had a bad reputation because they said that he liked to drink and eat so much that he ate at the movies. He ate a lot, and then he did not finish the movies, he was moody. But I said, "No, Orson Welles is a genius, he is the one." And since he liked to eat they say he goes to the gastronomic restaurants in Paris. Therefore, I sent a secretary to ask in all the gastronomic restaurants in Paris: "Where does Orson Welles eat?" And we discovered a restaurant and then he was eating. Six bottles of wine. He was eating. And then I asked to the chef "What is the best wine he want?" He say, "That." Then, "Send him a bottle." And then, he drink the bottle and he want to speak to me. And then, I speak with all the respect, because was for me was an idol. He say, " I don't want to do it. I don't want any more." I say to him, "I will propose something. If you do the picture, even if we pay what you want as an actor, I will hire the chef of this restaurant and you will eat, as here, every day." And he say, "I do it."
  • 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.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The soundtrack was to be done by Pink Floyd, whose compositions would represent the progressive House of Atreides, and influential French progressive rock band Magma, whose compositions would represent the House of Harkonnen.
  • Real-Life Relative: Invoked. Jodorowsky planned to cast his teenage son Brontis Jodorowsky as Paul.
  • 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.
  • 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: six hours a day, seven days a week, and for two 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: The documentary, obviously.

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