Jodorowsky's Dune

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jodorowsky's Dune
A cartoon desert, littered with pages of storyboards.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Pavich
Produced by
  • Frank Pavich
  • Stephen Scarlata
  • Travis Stevens
CinematographyDavid Cavallo
Edited by
  • Paul Docherty
  • Alex Ricciardi
Music byKurt Stenzel
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • May 18, 2013 (2013-05-18) (Cannes)
  • March 21, 2014 (2014-03-21)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • France
  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
Box office$647,280[2]

Jodorowsky's Dune is a 2013 American-French documentary film directed by Frank Pavich. The film explores cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's unsuccessful attempt to adapt and film Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel Dune in the mid-1970s.


In 1971, the production company Apjac International (APJ) headed by film producer Arthur P. Jacobs optioned the rights to film Dune. However, Jacobs died in 1973 before a film could be developed.[3]

In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights from APJ, with director Alejandro Jodorowsky set to direct.[3] Along with French producer Michel Seydoux, Jodorowsky proceeded to approach, among others, Virgin Records with the prog rock groups Tangerine Dream, Gong and Mike Oldfield before settling on Pink Floyd and Magma for some of the music; artists H. R. Giger, Chris Foss and Jean Giraud for set and character design; Dan O'Bannon for special effects; and Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Mick Jagger, Udo Kier, Amanda Lear and others for the cast.[4] Jodorowsky intended his son Brontis, 12 years old at the start of pre-production, to star as Paul Atreides.

Herbert traveled to Europe in 1976 to find that $2 million of the $9.5 million budget had already been spent in pre-production and that Jodorowsky's script would result in a 14-hour film ("It was the size of a phone book", Herbert later recalled). Jodorowsky took creative liberties with the source material, but Herbert said that he and Jodorowsky had an amicable relationship.[citation needed] After two and a half years in development, the project ultimately stalled for financial reasons since $5 million was still missing to round off the $15-million total budget.

After the film rights lapsed in 1982, they were purchased by Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis, who eventually released the 1984 film Dune, directed by David Lynch.

In January 2023, Pavich published an essay in The New York Times about Jodorowsky's Dune that included artificial intelligence art illustrations.[5]

Only 20 copies of the large film-book (30x22x9 cm) were produced with only a handful of copies known to remain. At an auction in 2021 at Christie's in Paris, one of the film-books sold for a world-record price for a storyboard of $5.9m USD.[6]


French artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud worked with Jodorowsky to create a storyboard composed of 3,000 drawings that depicted the entire film.[7]

Salvador Dalí was set to play the Emperor and claimed he wanted to be the highest-paid actor in Hollywood history. He asked for $100,000 per hour to act in the movie. Jodorowsky accepted, but then reduced the Emperor’s scenes so that Dalí would be needed for no more than one hour with the rest of his lines spoken by a robotic lookalike.[7] Dalí accepted on condition that the plastic lookalike was donated to his museum, and that his throne was to be a toilet made up of two intersected dolphins.[8]

Jodorowsky's refusal to compromise on Dune's running time was one main reason the film did not get made. Hollywood did not want the film's length to exceed two hours. Jodorowsky felt 10 to 14 hours would be more appropriate for the adaptation.[7]

The film notes that Jodorowsky's script, extensive storyboards, and concept art were sent to all major film studios, and argues that these influenced and inspired later film productions, including Star Wars, the Alien series, Flash Gordon, the Terminator series, and The Fifth Element.[7][9] In particular, the Jodorowsky-assembled team of O'Bannon, Foss, Giger, and Giraud went on to collaborate on the 1979 film Alien.[10]

"It was a great undertaking to do the script," Jodorowsky says in the film. Speaking of Herbert's novel, he says: "It's very, it's like Proust, I compare it to great literature."

The documentary concludes that Jodorowsky's efforts did not go to waste, and that he and Giraud recycled much of their concepts for The Incal, a series of graphic novels that began publishing in 1980.[7]


The project was officially announced in May 2011.[11] Director Pavich filmed an extensive series of interviews with the principal players involved in the failed 1970s adaptation, shooting in France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Jodorowsky's Dune premiered at the Director's Fortnight at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in May 2013.[12] Sony Pictures Classics acquired the North American distribution rights to the film in July 2013,[13] and later announced a theatrical release date of March 7, 2014.[14] The film was released on DVD and on-demand on July 8, 2014.


The film has received critical acclaim. Variety called it a "mind-blowing cult movie" and said that director Pavich "happens upon a compelling theory: that even in its still-born form, the film manifested the sort of collective [consciousness] that Jodorowsky was trying to peddle through its plot, trickling down to influence other sci-fi films that followed".[15] The Hollywood Reporter declared the "entertaining documentary makes the case for this overblown epic as a legendary lost masterpiece".[16] Entertainment Weekly named Jodorowsky's Dune as one of its 10 Best Movies of 2014.[9]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave Jodorowsky's Dune a 98% approval rating based on reviews from 122 critics, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's consensus states: "Part thoughtful tribute, part bittersweet reminder of a missed opportunity, Jodorowsky's Dune offers a fascinating look at a lost sci-fi legend."[17] Metacritic gives the film a 79% rating based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]


List of awards and nominations for Jodorowsky's Dune
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Australian Film Critics Association[19] February 9, 2015 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Boston Society of Film Critics[20] December 7, 2014 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Runner Up
Chicago Film Critics Association[21] December 7, 2014 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Cinema Eye Honors[22] January 8, 2014 Audience Choice Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation Syd Garon Won
20th Critics' Choice Awards[23] January 15, 2015 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society[24] December 15, 2014 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Fantastic Fest[25] September 24, 2013 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Audience Award Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Florida Film Critics Circle[26] December 19, 2014 Best Documentary Feature Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society[27] January 10, 2015 Best Documentary Feature Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Imagine Film Festival[28] April 19, 2014 Syfy Silver Scream Audience Award Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
National Board of Review[29] January 10, 2015 Top 5 Documentaries Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Night Visions Film Festival[30] November 6, 2013 Audience Award Jodorowsky's Dune Won
Satellite Awards[31] February 15, 2015 Best Documentary Film Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle[32] December 14, 2014 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated
Sitges Film Festival[33] October 19, 2013 Audience Award Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Special Jury Prize Jodorowsky’s Dune Special Mention
Utopiales[34] November 6, 2013 Grand Prix Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Grand Prix du Public Jodorowsky’s Dune Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[35] December 8, 2014 Best Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune Nominated

Top-ten lists[edit]

The film appeared on several critics' year-end lists.[36]


  1. ^ "Jodorowsky's Dune (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. January 14, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  2. ^ "Jodorowsky's Dune". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Dune: Book to Screen Timeline". Archived from the original on May 17, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  4. ^ Jodorowsky, Alejandro (1985). "Dune: Le Film Que Vous Ne Verrez Jamais (Dune: The Film You Will Never See)". Métal Hurlant. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Pavich, Frank (January 13, 2023). "This Is the 'Greatest Film Never Made': This Film Does Not Exist". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 13, 2023. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  6. ^ "World Auction Record for Dune Storyboard at Christie's Paris | Fine Books & Collections".
  7. ^ a b c d e Barber, Nicholas (March 14, 2019). "Is Jodorowsky's Dune the greatest film never made?". BBC. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Jodorowsky, Alejandro. "The Film You Will Never See". DuneInfo. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Nashawaty, Chris (December 12, 2014). "10 Best/5 Worst Movies of 2014". Entertainment Weekly. No. 1341. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  10. ^ Scanlon, Paul; Cross, Michael (1979). The Book of Alien. London: Titan Books. ISBN 1-85286-483-4.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (May 12, 2011). "Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune Will Finally Hit Screens". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  12. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (April 23, 2013). "U.S. Fare Looms Large in Directors' Fortnight". Variety. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  13. ^ "Sony Classics Acquires Cannes Docu Jodorowsky's Dune". Deadline Hollywood. July 11, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  14. ^ Cecchini, Mike (August 25, 2013). "Jodorowsky's Dune Gets a Release Date From Sony". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  15. ^ Debruge, Peter (May 19, 2013). "Cannes Film Review: Jodorowsky's Dune". Variety. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Dalton, Stephen (May 19, 2013). "Jodorowsky's Dune: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  17. ^ "Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  18. ^ "Jodorowsky's Dune". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  19. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Australian Film Critics Association, February 9, 2015
  20. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Boston Society of Film Critics, December 7, 2014
  21. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Chicago Film Critics Association, December 7, 2014, archived from the original on November 27, 2015, retrieved June 29, 2015
  22. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Cinema Eye Honors, January 8, 2014
  23. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", 20th Critics' Choice Awards, January 15, 2015
  24. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Detroit Film Critics Society, December 15, 2014
  25. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Fantastic Fest, September 24, 2013
  26. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary Feature", Florida Film Critics Circle, December 19, 2014
  27. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary Feature", Houston Film Critics Society, January 10, 2015
  28. ^ Film Prize " Syfy Silver Scream Audience Award ", Imagine Film Festival, April 19, 2014, archived from the original on October 28, 2014
  29. ^ Film Prize "Top 5 Documentaries", National Board of Review, January 10, 2015
  30. ^ Film Prize "Audience Award", Night Visions Film Festival, November 6, 2013, archived from the original on July 20, 2015, retrieved June 29, 2015
  31. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary Film", Satellite Awards, February 15, 2015
  32. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", San Francisco Film Critics Circle, December 14, 2014, archived from the original on January 19, 2018, retrieved June 29, 2015
  33. ^ Film Prize "Grand Prix", Sitges Film Festival, October 19, 2013
  34. ^ Film Prize "Grand Prix", Utopiales, November 6, 2013
  35. ^ Film Prize "Best Documentary", Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association, December 8, 2014
  36. ^ "Best of 2014: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic.
  37. ^ "The Best Movies of 2014". Asbury Park Press.
  38. ^ "We Pick the Year's 5 Most Intriguing Documentaries". Wired.
  39. ^ "The top 10 films of 2014, as decided by Globe film critic Liam Lacey". The Globe and Mail. December 18, 2014.
  40. ^ "Neil Rosen's Top 10 Best Films of 2014". NY1. Archived from the original on January 1, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  41. ^ "Mike's Picks for The Best & Worst Films of 2014". December 29, 2014.
  42. ^ "Angry Nerd's The 10 Most Underrated Movies of 2014". Wired.
  43. ^ "Top 10 Best Movies". Time. December 3, 2014.
  44. ^ "The Top 10 Best Films of 2014". Cincinnati City Beat.
  45. ^ "Top 10 films of 2014: in search of originality". The Japan Times. December 24, 2014.
  46. ^ "Top 10 movies of 2014 include Birdman, Whiplash, The Lego Movie". Tampa Bay Times.
  47. ^ "2014's best films". San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on October 9, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  48. ^ "10 Best/5 Worst Movies of 2014". Entertainment Weekly.
  49. ^ "Erik's 15 Favorite Movies of 2014". Portland Mercury.
  50. ^ "10 Movies manage to Glitter Amid Dark Year at Multiplex". Portland Mercury.
  51. ^ "Verniere: Here's my list of year's best films". Boston Herald. December 26, 2014.
  52. ^ "Best Movies of 2014". The Commercial Appeal.
  53. ^ "Top 10 Movies of 2014". Fort Worth Weekly. December 30, 2014.
  54. ^ "Brian Miller's 10 Favorite Movies of 2014". Seattle Weekly.
  55. ^ "The best movies of 2014: Boyhood, Force Majeure, Selma and more". Washington Post.
  56. ^ Scott, A. O. (December 11, 2014). "A. O. Scott's Top 10 Movies 2014: Boyhood and More". The New York Times.

External links[edit]