All that talk about Rings of Power reminded me of Jodorowsky's Dune, a documentary failed attempt by Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky to bring Frank Herbert’s Dune to the big screen. The entire documentary shows how Jodorowsky assembled his “dream team” to bring Dune to life, including Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí, David Carradine and Amanda Lear in acting roles, and H.R. Giger for concept design.
The reason I mention “all the talk about Rings of Power” is because, as you see the documentary, you notice Jodorowsky is making a lot of changes to the source material, including making a completely different ending. One of the gripes Dune fans have with the Lynch movie is how Lynch changed the entire concept of Dune, turning Paul Atreides into a “space Jesus” as some say. The weirding way, including the use of The Voice, is turned into some sort of “super power”: there’s a part where he uses The Voice to make a crack on the floor, under Feyd Rautha’s body, and, at the very end of the movie, he makes it rain on Dune using his super-powers (killing all sandworms in the process, since sandworms cannot survive water).
Having said this, if you are not a fan of the Lynch movie (which I am not), you would have definitely hated Jodorowsky’s Dune, due to all the changes. I don’t think saying this is a spoiler since I am talking about a documentary, not a movie, so here’s Jodorowsky’s ending: at the end, Paul was captured by The Harkonnens and killed (sliced into pieces), but then, Paul’s blood that was spilled on the sand spread everywhere and his spirit possessed everyone around, and the planet itself. At that point everyone keeps saying “we are all Paul” (or something like that) and the planet becomes self-aware, spreading Paul’s spirit across the entire galaxy. If you know Dune, then you know this would have been the polar opposite to what Dune was actually supposed to be, and I am glad the movie was not made “as a Dune movie”.
However, the documentary is still pretty interesting and you can really see the passion that Jodorowsky had for his project. It is really amazing to see him walk us through the entire creative process, working with artists to make a visual representation of “his” Dune, and even going as far as having the entire movie drawn as a comic-style storyboard, which really shows the dedication he had for the project. I am also a fan of H. R. Giger, so it was awesome to see his take on different aspects of Dune, including Giedi Prime, the Harkonnen outfits, the Sardaukar, and other elements. When you see all the ideas that went behind the creation of Giedi Prime, you can really get an idea of how brutal the Harkonnens were in this movie, since it really goes into visual and mechanical representation of everything.
Unfortunately for Alejandro Jodorowsky, he dreamed too big for his own good. As you watch the documentary, you can see various red flags that let you know why the project ultimately failed. For example, his dream team made the movie extremely expensive even for today’s standards (if VFX artists were paid what they are worth, of course, since we see how Disney/Marvel exploits them and how that has impacted the quality of the work they produce). Not only that, he took his inner Peter Jackson all the way up to 11, because Dune was going to be the longest movie ever made. How long exactly? Watch the documentary to find out. I don’t know if you know this, but Dennis Villeneuve was first greenlit only the first movie, and it wasn’t until box office numbers that he was granted the second part (on the other hand, Peter Jackson managed to get the LOTR trilogy greenlit right from the start, but that’s because, unlike Dune, LOTR is not so “niche”).
While the movie was never made, it really shaped sci-fi movies. The documentary shows how parts of this movie inspired other movies like Star Wars, and even non-sci-fi movies. Jodorowsky himself took some of his own ideas to make a comic titled “The Incal”. So, even if the movie was never made, its legacy lives on.
On one side, I can definitely say I am glad Jodorowsky’s Dune was not made as a “Dune” movie (I would have loved to see it as its own standalone IP). On the other hand, I have to say if you are into the creative process, you should see this documentary, since it goes very deep into the whole creative process. Besides, it is also very nice to see how much passion and dedication Jodorowsky devoted to the project, something that is very rare to see nowadays.