Sunday, October 25, 2009

An exhibition of a film of a book that never was: Dune

H.R Giger, Dune IV, 1976
70 x 100cm, Acrylic on paper
Courtesy of

© 1976 H. R. Giger

Alejandro Jodorowsky's ‘Dune’:

An exhibition of a film of a book that never was

takes as its departure point the cult Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempted 1976 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel ‘Dune’.

This exhibition includes production drawings made by H.R Giger and Chris Foss alongside commissioned work made in response by three international contemporary artists Steven Claydon, Matthew Day Jackson and Vidya Gastaldon.

Following the release of his mystical Western ‘El Topo’ (1970) and his psychedelic quest movie ‘Holy Mountain’, Jodorowsky embarked on his ‘Dune’ project, gathering around him a group of collaborators that included the French comics artist Moebius, the Swiss artist H.R. Giger (who would later design the 1979 film ‘Alien’), the British sci-fi artist Chris Foss, and the British band Pink Floyd, who would provide the soundtrack. Among Jodorowsky’s proposed cast were Orson Welles, Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali, the last of whom was to play the Emperor of the Universe, who ruled from a golden toilet-cum-throne in the shape of two intertwined dolphins. Unable to secure the money from Hollywood to create the ‘Dune’ of his imagination, Jodorowsky abandoned the film before a single frame was shot. All that survives of this project is Jodorowsky’s extensive notes, and the production drawings of Moebius, Giger and Foss. These reveal a potential future for sci-fi movie making that eschewed the conservative, technology-based approach of American filmmakers in favour of something closer to a metaphysical fever-dream. This was, though, a future that would never take place.

In 1977, George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ was released, and the history of sci-fi filmmaking, and even mainstream cinema, would never be the same again.