Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky is best known by film nerds for 1970's El Topo and 1973's The Holy Mountain, two bizarre films assembled from cinematic non sequiturs and intense manipulation of Jungian concepts. In the mid-1970s, Jodorowsky and producer Michel Seydoux set out to produce an adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi novel Dune. The movie never happened, but film nerds still drool over the possibilities. Jodorowsky's Dune relates the story of the film's preproduction, and it's got to be the giddiest, most inspiring movie about moviemaking since Ed Wood.
The centerpiece of the documentary is Jodorowsky himself. In interviews, the director, who is well into his 80s, comes across as a kind of cross between Stan Lee and Stanley Kubrick. When Jodorowsky relates his intention for the Dune film without any irony or embarrassment—he says he wanted to "simulate the effects of LSD," to change the world's consciousness—you can't help but realize that nobody talks like this anymore, and that's a real shame. From H.R. Giger to Salvador Dali to Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd, Jodorowsky assembled the Ocean's Eleven of 1970s arts and culture to work on his film. It's a reminder of how far from those hairy, horny days of the 1970s that cinema has fallen: It's impossible to imagine Jodorowsky's unbridled, unself-conscious enthusiasm for blockbuster cinema as a world-changing mechanism coming out of the mouth of a Brett Ratner or a J.J. Abrams.
Director Frank Pavich offers a shadow of what Dune would look like in rough animations—an interesting visual convention for a documentary mostly made up of talking heads. (Pavich avoids most of the traps of an interview-heavy film, although it must be said that segments featuring prominent film bloggers Devin Faraci and Drew McWeeny involve too much hyperbole and too little context. They'll make you miss Roger Ebert even more than you already do.) This is obviously a one-sided story—Seydoux, who produced the original film, also produced and has a major part in this documentary—but who cares, when it's this good?