A Fireside Chat: Ghost’s A-Z Part Two

dune_ver1_xlgD is for… DUNE. In some other alternate universe, DUNE would turn out to be a triumph. Originally it was set to be Ridley Scott’s next film following the remarkable ALIEN, but while Scott was deep in pre-production on DUNE with a lengthy schedule ahead prior to production, Scott’s older brother Frank died.  Shaken by the loss of his brother, Scott wanted to get busy filming as soon as possible, so departed the project to work on BLADE RUNNER instead (his loss informing BLADE RUNNER’s themes of defined lifespans, death and mortality), So the tragedy gave us an undisputed classic and my favourite movie. But it’s so tantalising to imagine what might have been, had DUNE had that wonderful legend on the opening credits ‘A Film By Ridley Scott’, back when he was in his prime. Its the kind of movie you can only dream of. Ah, DUNE, how you frustrate.

 

DUNE seems to be a project surrounded by such what-ifs and maybes. Years before, Alejandro Jodorowsky had planned to make DUNE in the early 1970s, with designs by Chris Foss and H R Giger that even today offer tantalising possibilities, but back then were surely unfilmable. Its considered to be one of the great unmade movies (I think someone has even made a documentary about it),  The soundtrack was apparently going to be done by Pink Floyd (curiously, similar thinking along such lines would result in the odd decision to hire TOTO to create the soundtrack of the final film). The collapse of the Jodorowsky project would lead to Foss and Giger being hired to work on ALIEN resulting in much of the unique ‘look’ of that classic Ridley Scott film.

Frank Herbert’s novel remains one of my favourite books, and I am certain that one day DUNE might be a perfect, wonderful epic, were it made under the right conditions (either 3-hour plus or ideally two films shot back to back).  But I also think that maybe DUNE had its shot and failed, but at least it gave us two great Ridley Scott movies.

 

4 thoughts on “A Fireside Chat: Ghost’s A-Z Part Two

  1. I haven’t seen Dune for a very, very long time, but I always mean to revisit it. I feel like I watched it having been told it wasn’t very good and so just assumed that — I don’t recall what my own thoughts really were, though the general concepts are burned in my mind. That said, I also read and loved the novel, so that’s part of it.

    Have you seen the mini-series from 2000? That’s a four-hour version. Again, not seen it for a long time, but I remember enjoying it immensely and it was very well reviewed. I imagine the CGI has dated badly now, and some of the final battle scenes shot against blown-up photographs of a desert were ill-judged even at the time, but looking past that… I think I’ve wound up with 2 copies on DVD, so I really ought to revisit it.

    Apologies if this is all stuff you know, but in case not: they also did a sequel, filming the second two books (book 2 as episode 1, book 3 as episodes 2&3). I remember really enjoying the first episode, but not being as keen on the second two. Despite best intentions, I’ve also never read any of Herbert’s sequels (or, of course, the tonnes of stuff generated by his son in the past 15 years).

    1. Sorry mate, been away on holiday. Yeah, I saw that Dune miniseries some years ago, I’m tempted to dig it out and rewatch it but yeah, I fear its dated somewhat (which is no grounds to NOT watch it, of course), I remember that the miniseries seemed more faithful to the book but for all its CG scale missed some of the majesty and sophisticated art direction of the movie. Combine the best elements of the two and it would be a perfect DUNE. I really think it needs someone like HBO to have a crack at it, if only someone could sell them the idea of it being like a sci-fi GAME OF THRONES. Which it is, really, across all the books.

  2. In one way, I’m glad Jodorowsky’s Dune never happened. If it did – we probably wouldn’t have Star Wars and would definitely not have Alien and possibly not even that incredible summer of ’82.

    1. Yes, while Jodorowsky’s Dune still holds some profound wistful thinking as one of the great ‘what-ifs’ (the Giger and Foss production paintings are extraordinary), nonetheless the film would have surely still been a terrible, weird car-crash of a movie. Film-makers would struggle to do the story justice even today with cg-imaging etc, but back in the mid-seventies it would have been an impossible nightmare. This was before Star Wars broke the sci-fi mold, remember. So yeah, I agree its a good thing it never happened. And yes, we certainly were the better for it as its failure directly led to Alien.

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