Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Promotion: Destiny Awaits
Win a limited edition PS4 and a copy of Destiny
Empire Blogs
Under The Radar

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Posted on Friday November 8, 2013, 16:14 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Winner of the audience award at this year's Night Visions was Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune (Filth came second and The World's End placed third - take that, Gravity). This was the film I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival, having heard so much great stuff coming out of Cannes, Telluride, TIFF, Sitges, Fantastic Fest and wherever else. In many ways it doesn't disappoint, but it's also not the kind-of transcendent experience I'd hoped it would be. Despite the story's starting to sound overfamiliar, it's a fascinating and comprehensive glimpse of the film that might have been, with the engaging presence of Alejandro Jodorowsky himself front and centre. So on its own terms as a celebration of the greatest film that never was, it's a complete success. But it lacks any sense of balance, any dissenting voices, and any sense that its principal narrator might be at all unreliable. As such it comes across as overly credulous, and some of its claims for the unmade film seem tenuously lofty.

You'll know the story by now, and if you don't, Simon Braund wrote it in the October 2009 Empire. Avatar cover - seek it out. In a nutshell, in 1977, Jodorowsky claims the universe told him to make a film of Frank Herbert's epic space-opera novel Dune, in cahoots with French producer Michel Seydoux. This was before Jod had actually read it. Immediately thereafter, he started putting together a band of "warriors" to bring his extraordinary vision to fruition: HR Giger, Moebius, Dan O'Bannon and Chris Foss among them, plus his son Brontis Jodorowsky, who underwent two years of physical training to prepare him for the role of the messianic Paul Atreides. Salvador Dali would have played Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, with Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen. Pink Floyd were doing the music. Jod trots out the story of meeting them and being insensed that they were eating burgers in his presence. Other writers have established that The Floyd say this is nonsense. The documentary prefers to print the legend.

Whatever: so far, so amazing. The artwork, from Jodorowsky's huge book of storyboards and production designs, is wonderful; Jod's vision and enthusiasm is unassailable; his stories are often hilarious; and you feel his pain when, in an angry moment, he starts railing at the powers that took the film away from him. It ended up with Rafaella di Laurentiis and David Lynch... and you know the rest.

Poor David Lynch. Not that he'd care if nobody in the world ever watched his Dune again for the rest of time, but just as, over the last few years, his film has started to undergo a cautious reassessment with people arguing that perhaps it isn't the road accident it's reputed to be, here comes this documentary to throw it back under the traffic. And yet here's the thing: the many worldwide fans of Herbert's novel would have liked Jod's version no better. People that have a problem with the rain at the end of Lynch's film would undoubtedly have hated Jod's conclusion even worse, ending as it does with Paul Atreides dying and transferring his consciousness into the entire population of Arrakis, which then becomes a green and verdent sentient planet. "You can't respect a novel [when you adapt it for film]", says Jod. "You have to rape it like a bride on her wedding night." (That sentence is a product of his broken English, so it's not intended quite as harshly as it sounds.)

Herbert fans aside, the claims of Nicholas Winding Refn, Richard Stanley and the film's other talking heads that Jodorowsky's Dune would have been a world-conquering instant sci-fi classic, also ring... optimistic. Its immediate predecessors El Topo and The Holy Mountain are fantastic, mesmerisingly strange films, but they didn't change the world - or the film industry - and they're not for everyone. There's every chance that Dune would have entirely baffled the majority of audiences or, at worst, been laughed off screens, especially given the outlandish costumes and sexualised, "ejaculating" spaceships. It might have been awe-inspiring or it might have been an unintentional Flesh Gordon. Plus, Dan O'Bannon was doing the special effects. Dark Star might have looked okay for a low-budget movie made in 1974, but we have no evidence of whether he would have made significant leaps on Dune three years later, especially since its effects basically sound unachievable. You can point to his decamping subsequently - with Giger and Foss - to Alien, but he didn't do Alien's effects, and it's questionable how much of the finished film is remotely even his. 

So I love Dune, I'd love to see Jodorowsky's version of it, and I'd love to own that book of design work - surely someone publishing it is a no-brainer. I thoroughly enjoyed Pavich's film too, but I don't buy its thesis for a moment.



And while we're at Night Visions and on the subject of Jodorowsky, a word on Christer Lindström's half-hour short Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom. Nightsatan are a Finnish electro band, and the film is a kind of post-apocalypse western in which the band appear as wandering freaks: a Mad Max-ish archer, a robot thing and a skeleton thing. Lindström told me he watched El Topo a lot during production. In a really good way, you can tell. It's about a grotesque, egg-laying transvestite and his malfunctioning android son who are wandering a desert wasteland catching warrior women, burying them up to their necks and trapping them in short, sonically punishing temporal loops. The band - who bitch at each other a lot and are horny - aren't standing for that, so decide to put a stop to it, finding that they can combat the loops because their music is triangular. Or something. The eggs turn out to be significant. Oh, and it was shot in English but then dubbed into Italian and subtitled. Ridiculously, it works perfectly.

The band played at Bar Loose afterwards and I'd assumed their film personae were their thing (something like Slipknot) and that they'd play like that on stage. Nope. Just three slightly tubby guys in wifebeaters. Ah well. They're good though. To my ears they sound like John Carpenter's soundtracks, to the extent that they do a cover of Assault on Precinct 13 (although they kind of play it the Bomb the Bass / Xenon II way). Wikipedia types who are all about the genres can tell me it's blackened gothic electro-space doomcore if they want to.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (439)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday
By Owen Williams

Bloody Cuts In Conversation
By Owen Williams

European Film Awards 2012
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Juan Martinez Moreno and Attack of the Werewolves
By Owen Williams


RECENT COMMENTS

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
"Or don't..."  Owen Williams
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Juan Francisco Pardo Q&A
"Sadece on altı dakika içinde iyi bir görsel hikaye anlatmak önemli beceri ve bel"  skndrdmr
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Opening Gala
"That really amazing."  ommrudraksha
Read comment

2013 IIFF - The Winners
"Hi Simon, Trying to get in touch with you. Hope this works. I enjoyed your piece on Enter t"  matthewpolly
Read comment

Christoph Waltz will win an Oscar
"although its old now :(, of course he was gonna win it :), one of the many idols of why i wanna be a"  SONYA ALALIBO
Read comment

Brisbane International Film Festival: First Report
"I think it is pretty clear the story revolves around The Blacksmith, in The Man With The Iron Fists,"  owenyunfat
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Thanks for the feedback! I hope I didn't give the impression that Cloud Atlas is a write-off; I just"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Hi Damon With regards to Cloud Atlas, I fear that it will face the same problem a"  ChesterCopperpot
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"No worries! I just try to describe things as I see them, and I often forget that, as Empire has grow"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your early reviews from the festivals, and of course, I'm not alway"  pythonlove
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Sundance Part Six: In The Loop
13 comments

Damo's Top Ten Of 2009
9 comments

Basterds Blog
9 comments

The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview
9 comments

Sundance 2010: Four Lions blows everyone away!
8 comments

Sundance 2010: The Killer Inside Me causes outrage!
7 comments

Chris Hewitt Of The Year Award!!!!
7 comments

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
7 comments

The Wrestler
6 comments

Where to see Moon...
6 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (167)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Gamescom 2014: The 10 Most Exciting Games
Zombies! Guns! Tombs! Sheep! Watch the trailers right here...

Who Is Mack Bolan? Your Guide To Cinema's New Action Man
As Bradley Cooper lines up to star as the hero, here's your handy guide to his story so far

Classic Feature: Empire Meets Uwe Boll
'I'm probably the most hated director in the world right now.'

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

The 100 Greatest Games Of All Time
You voted, we counted, and here they are: beat-'em-ups, shoot-'em-ups, RPGs, JRPGs, MMORPGs, RTSs, first-person shooters, platformers, sims and much more!

Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's 25 Greatest Battles
From smalltime scraps to epic struggles, these are the conflicts that have stunned cinema since 1989

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)