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Alejandro Jodorowsky weighs in on new 'Dune' as Villeneuve rushes to finish editing

By Josh Weiss
Alejandro Jodorowsky Dune 2020

Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean filmmaker who famously tried (and failed) to adapt Dune in the 1970s, has finally offered up his thoughts on Denis Villeneuve's new adaptation of the massive sci-fi tome written by Frank Herbert.

Chatting with IndieWire, Jodorowsky — who was not consulted for the upcoming project — admitted that he'll definitely see the film "with pleasure, because it will be different," but added that he feels like a proper translation is "impossible to do." He also posited the opinion that Herbert's prose is just too idiosyncratic and doesn't lend itself well to the visual language of cinema.

"Dune is a book that’s like Proust. It’s science fiction but it’s very, very literary," he said. "It’s very difficult to find images to put in the film because pictures are optical."

The director's ambitious, yet doomed, attempt to bring Dune to the big screen — which involved concept artwork from designers like H.R. Giger — was chronicled in Frank Pavich's 2013 documentary feature, Jodorowsky's Dune. David Lynch (Eraserhead) ended up directing the first movie adaptation, which proved to be a major disappointment when it was released in 1984. Back in April of this year, Lynch said that he had no interest in the latest cinematic stab at the property. 

Dune 2020

After helming Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve has proved himself capable of grand and subtle genre world-building. Moreover, his choice to split Dune into two parts will allow the massive story to breathe and grow organically without the stress of condensing everything into 2 - 2 1/2 hours. That said, Villeneuve is experiencing a time crunch as he rushes to finish Part I in time for its wide theatrical release on Dec. 18. In a separate interview with IndieWire, the filmmaker revealed that the post-production process became even more stressful as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

"I was planning to go back and shoot some elements later because I wanted to re-adjust the movie. I needed time. At the time, I didn’t know that it would be a pandemic…as we were about to go back to do those elements," he said. "The impact was that it crushed my schedule right now. It will be a sprint to finish the movie on time right now, because we were allowed to go back to shoot those elements in a few weeks…it [also] meant that I have to finish some elements of the movie, like VFX and the editing, being in Montreal, as my crew stayed in Los Angeles."

Dune is being edited by Joe Walker, who previously worked with the director on Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner. Reshoots were confirmed in June and are scheduled to take place later this month.