The Dune Of Arthur P Jacobs.
On August 10th 1972 Arthur P. Jacobs obtained the rights to Dune
in a deal that would net Frank Herbert $10,000 and a 5% cut of the
projected profits. Unfortunately for Herbert, Jacob died soon after
making the deal and the project languished in development hell until
the rights lapsed, but for a while his Dune movie had been vigorously
pursued, with casting calls made, scripts written, directors wooed
and locations scouted.
Perhaps the most curious part of the story concerns attempts to
secure locations in Turkey. At the time, the Turkish government
was very keen to encourage foreign investment, and was actively
promoting the country as a place to shoot movies, mainly on the
basis of the great locations that were available. Jacobs had his
people travel to Turkey on a number of occasions, and had actually
settled on an area known as the Goreme Valley. Renowned for it's
bizarre rock formations and caves, it seemed the ideal place to
stand in for the homes of the desert dwelling Fremen.
For a director, Jacob's first choice has a certain resonance. David
Lean was of course intimately familiar with the problems of shooting
in a desert, but perhaps he had his fill of the genre after Lawrence
Of Arabia, and appears to have passed on the project. Another big
name considered was Charles Jarrott. He too had some potentially
useful experience with the Oscar nominated period piece Anne Of
A Thousand Days. A man who could bring to life the intrigues of
the court of Henry The VIII would certainly have no problem creating
the feudal society of Dune, but though Jacob was very keen on Jarrott,
the two were never to formally cement any relationship.
While the hunt for a director went on, work was also under way
on a script. Initially, the first treatment had been handled by
Robert Greenhut, the producer who had lobbied Jacob to make the
movie in the first place, but subsequently, a writer by the name
of Rospo Pallenberg was approached. He was fresh from writing a
script for The Lord Of The Rings for John Boorman, and though history
records that Boorman failed to make that particular movie, the script
(and the fact that he had condensed another major tome into cinematic
terms) had impressed Jacob. Pallenburg went on to produce a number
of interesting drafts, but alas the death of Jacobs was to be the
end of the creative process.
Considering the sort of talent that Jacobs was assembling (and
even hints that actor James Coburn was in the frame for a part),
the result could have been really fascinating, but as with all good
ideas, the idea was just too good to fade away, and within a short
period of time, preparation was once again under way to bring Dune
to the big screen.
|Above: Goreme Valley rock formations
from Traveling Canucks website, where you can fine this and many
other wonderful photographs of this amazing area.