ByLuke Dancer, writer at
Luke Dancer

Frank Herbert's science fiction novel Dune, is one of the greatest science fiction stories out there, but is often overlooked.

Dune is a massive universe, with a dark twist which is totally unconventional to the sci-fi movies we know today. Frank Herbert's Dune squeezes every bit of friendliness and comic about the science fiction movies we know today and does it in a complete unorthodox style, giving it it's own unique taste. Dune can be seen as the anti-George Lucas effect, a story which revolves around a young boy who embarks on a journey to fulfil his destiny but on a much more bleak and unique level, something I can't even put a label on.

The novel takes place in an incredibly detailed universe where royal families hold control of each individual planet, all caught in a war over the obsession of the planet Arrakis, a planet which holds this mystical spice which can be mined for great value. The original concept of the movie was first under the hands of Alejandro Jodorowsky, a filmmaker who is renowned for his surreal and diverse contextual pictures, such as The Holy Mountain (1973) and El Topo (1970), both incredibly unique films which almost create Jodorowsky's own sub-genre of film.

Jodorowsky recently featured in a documentary called "Jodorowsky's Dune" which told the story of how he came to love the book and his original thoughts and ideas of the picture. After the success of his previous masterpieces, he had producers at his feet, and so he demanded the next project he wanted to do was Dune. He embarked on an hunt for all the best cast and crew to make his dream of how Dune should be viewed on screen and started when he first employed Moebius, a comic book artist famous for his artwork in the comic book "Blueberry", and so the two of them created the famous 3000 drawing storyboard of how the film will be shot and how it will look like. A necessity for a science fiction picture to be successful is of course visual effects, which brought their journey onto the famous Douglas Trumball, the visual effects technician famed for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Jodorowsky stated that he wants each cast and crew member to be a "spiritual warrior" to transform this literary masterpiece unto a visual masterpiece, so after meeting with Douglas Trumball, labelled as the best you can get, to discuss him working on the project, Jodorowsky completely shocks its members by point blank rejecting him and decides to look for someone else, as he felt the Trumbull was not a "spiritual person".

Following his decision of dropping perhaps the most famous visual effects technician money can buy, Jodorowsky by chance stumbles upon a cinema showing a small science fiction picture "Dark Star" which has Dan O'Bannon as the visual effects technician. Being totally impressed by his work he decides to sign O'Bannon up immediately and demands him to sell all his belongings and to come and stay in Paris alongside his producers. Alongside the visual effects crew Jodorowsky had some of the best and most underrated artists in the world working on his concept art. Chris Foss, a science fiction artist was immediately employed as a result of his incredible art work for some science fiction books, H.R Giger who developed the original design for the Xenomorph in Alien (1979) as well as Pink Floyd to create the musical scores throughout the movie. Take a look at some of the original designs for Jodorowsky's imagination of Dune:

H.R Giger's concept for a spaceport
H.R Giger's concept for a spaceport

As you can see the artwork looks promising and definitely unique. It looks set to become visual master-class, an optic journey, until Hollywood do what they do best...crush originality. After previous science fiction smash hits such as Star Wars, the studio who funded the project decided to close it. After over 2 years of work. The final movie was over several hours long, however the final cut was shortened to just over 2 hours. The theme of the movie as previously said was completely unconvetnional to the genre, which scared the studios into thinking that if they released it the movie it would alter the whole idea of what a science fiction movie should be, resulting in the eventual loss of money in the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises. This tragedy of what the movie could have been has been regarded as the greatest movie never to be maid. Which led Jodorowsky's project led to the project being picked up by David Lynch...

David Lynch's Dune was chosen to be released by the studios, and although received a cult following, was an incredibly watered down movie compared to Jodorowsky's version. David Lynch definitely created a unique science fiction film, with a great and diverse script which stuck by the book, intriguing characters and some good sequences, but fell short of Jodorowsky's incredible original universe.

Dune may have been revolutionary during the decade it was released, it is now however looking fairly dated. Dune as I stated in my opinion is one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. David Lynch's Dune may be satisfying for some readers of the novel as an adaptation, but newcomers to the book believe now is the time to reboot it. With the incredible visual effects available today and great directing and acting talent this could be a great rebooted movie compared to some other appalling Hollywood reboots. Nicolas Winding Refn has winked at the project for some time, and has stated it's something that he is interested in doing, and with him being one of my favourite directors I have no doubt he would do this reboot justice. I would love Jodorowsky to be involved in a possible reboot in anyway, perhaps alongside Winding Refn as co-director.

As a lover of science fiction movies I would love to see this movie remade, to give the genre a breath of fresh air. Modern special effects would create an incredible immersive universe with create landscaped and environments. Incredible cinematic sequences such as the sand-worm could be an incredible experience at an IMAX theatre. Glimpses of what Dune could have been but seen as impossible during the original projects era, can now be achieved with ever evolving technology. Dune doesn't just deserve a remake, Jodorowsky does, and with his original ideas as a template, I fail to see how it can be a failure.

I hope Hollywood decides to give this project a second chance eventually. The oncoming tidal wave of Star Wars movies and spin off's which approaches in the distance could leave audiences either brainwashed or have a stale taste in their mouths, and so with a Dune reboot I think this could refresh the genre by giving the audiences an alternate science fiction experience.


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