Jodorowsky's Dune

By Cory Haggart

Mailed on July 10, 2014

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Dear Amanda Lear
Salvador Dali's Muse

Dear Amanda,

I want to run something by you: I feel that the truly surprising people of this world - the revolutionary, the free - tend to come across as totally conventional. The Dadaists looked about as middle management as the Expressionists. Burroughs and Beuys were ready to audition for Willy Loman. True visionaries are hard to hear because they look and sound so normal, even though their ideas are batshit crazy. And they all seem perpetually on the cusp of bringing those batshit ideas to life. Any movie about such people can reveal only so much before they are dwarfed by their subject matter.

My core theory means that I don't really give credence to artistic tattoos. Or exotic vocabulary. I disregard aggressive haircuts and crazy pants. If they're truly visionary, creators simply spend too much time on their work to worry about that shit. Do you agree? You've seen some truly creative people in your time, and in _Jodorowsky's Dune, _you seem to know the difference. You parse Jodorowsky's passion, Dali's narcissism, and Herbert's inspiration as if you see that kind of thing every day. It's all right there--if only you have the right kind of eyes.

Creativity itself seems hides in plain sight. For us, the audience, we already know some of the questions. We just never thought they had an answer. Much less the same answer:

  • Why was the awesome David Lynch's movie of the amazing Frank Herbert novel so terrible?
  • How did H.R. Giger get into movies?
  • Why did Alien look so amazing?
  • Did Star Wars really come out of nowhere?

Jodorowsky's Dune makes me realize that those questions are super-conventional. A really revolutionary question would be "What would it take for Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali to be in same movie?" or "What if you assembled a team of great artists and let them run free?" Those are better questions, ones that point toward the monumental effort at the heart of this movie.

And that effort, the attempt to make Dune, overwhelms everything else. This movie has some excellent editing, some creative, story-serving animations to bring life to phone-only conversations, and some amazing access to the key players. But who cares? The passion, talent, and effort it took to make a movie that could have reshaped the genre, medium, and industry is the only thing that matters.

The weird thing about observing true creativity is that it can fly right under your radar. That's an idea worth building a movie around. No matter how good this documentary is (and it's good), it must, by necessity, pale in comparison to its subject matter. Which is why it's better that the movie is mostly workmanlike and perfunctory. When what you're slinging is this wild, a plain suit and tie makes it easier for everyone to understand.

Conventionally yours,


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