Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jodorowsky's Dune Blu-ray Disc Review

Alejandro Jodorowsky had great success with the cult midnight film classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain. He had a friend who had read Frank Herbert's Dune and recommended it to Jodorowsky and during a trip to Paris, Jodorowsky following his spirit met with French film producer who told Jodorowsky he could direct any film project he wanted if he worked with him and without even having read a page of the book itself, Jodorowsky took it as providence and told the Producer he wanted to direct Dune. At the time the project was in development with Arthur P. Jacobs, who produced the original Planet of the Apes Quintology and planned to produce a feature film adaptation of Dune as his next project, but Jacobs died before he could bring the project to fruition. So the rights became available and Jodorowsky's Producer purchased the rights to make a feature film based on Dune.

Jodorowsky then set out to assemble what he called his Holy Warriors to produce what is still widely considered one of the best science fiction films never made. With designs by Jean "Moebius" Giraud, Chris Floss, H.R. Giger, and special effects by Dan O'Bannon and a soundtrack to be produced by Pink Floyd. The film would have starred Jodorowsky's own son as Paul, who was 12 years old at the time and trained relentlessly in martial arts, sword fighting and even acrobatics for two years in preparation for the role. The rest of the cast would have included David Carradine, Salvador Dali, Gloria Swanson, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger. 

Documentarian Frank Pavich was given unprecedented access to Jodorowsky's production materials, including the extraordinary hard-bound book of meticulous storyboards, which Jodorowsky used as his calling card when he attempted to get the film financed in Hollywood. While it appears that hard bound copies of the book were circulated around Hollywood, the studios were unsure of Jodorowsky and Jodorowsky was stubborn when it came to negotiating with the studios. As a result the project fell apart and the rights continued to be passed around by other producers to other directors like Ridley Scott, who chose to direct what would become Bladerunner and after he turned down the opportunity to direct Return Of The Jedi, David Lynch ended up directing the feature film version of Dune. 

Meanwhile copies of Jodorowsky's hard bound book served as inspiration for other filmmaker's for decades to follow and this documentary gives some interesting examples of designs from his book that made their way into films like Star Wars and most recently Prometheus. In addition to Jodorowsky, the documentary includes interviews with the late Dan O'Bannon and his widow, Producer Gary Kurtz, Artist H.R. Giger, and Filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn among many others.

Watching and listening to Jodorowsky discuss the project, it is easy to imagine how he inspired a generation of professionals, who went on to have great careers of their own. While the adaptation of Dune Jodorowsky had in mind took some liberties with the novel, I think it is hard to deny that Jodorowsky would have captured the spirit of the novel. Only two copies of Jodorowsky's Dune Bible that he made in the 1970s are known to exist, including Jodorowsky's own copy, but after watching this documentary, I really wish Jodorowsky would allow a commercial publication of his book because I don't think any film can do justice to what Jodorowsky has on the page. With Dune adopted twice already, once for the big screen and once as a miniseries for what was then the Sci Fi Channel and a third attempt recently shelved at Paramount, can we have a copy of the book and let Jodorowsky's vision project onto our psyche from the pages within? I hope one day Jodorowsky's Dune hardcover will be released commercially for fans to purchase. In the meantime, we definitely get a sense for what Jodorowsky's Dune would have been like from watching this documentary and perhaps it will seed within the psyche of other artists as inspiration to create their own visions and not copy Jodorowsky's, which again the film makes a case and point through example that ideas, which are not covered by copyright law, appear to have been reproduced over and over again with stunning similarity to what Jodorowsky has on the page.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Jodorowsky's Dune on Blu-ray Disc with a magnificent 1920 by 1080 full HD transfer at 24 fps and an English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Soundtrack. An English Descriptive audio track for the visually impaired and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired as well as English and French Language Subtitles are encoded as options. An additional reel of deleted scenes are presented in full HD with a "Play All" feature totaling forty six minutes and twenty four seconds. The theatrical trailer (2:03) is included too along with trailers for Third Person (2:12), For No Good Reason (1:59), Only Lovers Left Alive (2:19), The Lunch Box (2:11), Tim's Vermeer (2:11) and a Sony TV spot (1:32) wrap up the materials included on the Blu-ray Disc. A standard definition copy on DVD is also included within the Blue BD case. The interactive menus are well rendered and easy to navigate. 

Jodorowsky's Dune will debut on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at retailers on and offline courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

(C) Copyright 2014 By Mark Rivera
All Rights Reserved.