John Gosling: Freelance Writer

SFX 2 page spread

Dune

The November 2001 issue of SFX magazine contains my in-depth article on the many attempts to bring Frank Herbert's epic science fiction novel to the big screen. In researching this article, I uncovered many fascinating facts, including a great deal of information about a little known project launched by Arthur P, Jacobs, the talented producer behind the original Planet Of The Apes movie franchise. The following page offers a brief overview of my research to date, but will expand considerably in due course.

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.

The Dune Of Alexandro Jodorosky.

With the Jacobs project lapsed, the focus switched to France and what was certainly the most bizarre attempt to film Dune. The character behind this project was one Alexandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean film maker with a serious reputation for pushing the envelope. The Dune he intended to make bore little relationship to the novel, and it is said that Jodorowsky spent considerable energy keeping a sceptical Frank Herbert at armís length. However, though his vision would have been unique and quite likely offensive to many Dune fans, the fact is that it would have looked incredible. Jodorowsky scoured the world for the best creative talents, bringing in Dan O'Bannon (Alien) to work on the effects and enticing Pink Floyd to work on the soundtrack. Most amazingly, he and the French comic book artist Jean "Mobius" Giraud created a one thousand page story board that remains as an utterly enticing taste of what might have been.

Image Gallery: Jodorowsky's Dune

The following images are taken from a press kit issued to investors. The artist is Jean "Mobius" Giraud. Click an image for a larger version.

Leto Jessica Paul Shaddam The Baron
Duke Leto
Lady Jessica
Paul
Shaddam
The Baron
Feyd Rabban Helen Kynes Duncan & Gurney
Feyd
Rabban
Helen
Kynes
Duncan & Gurney
Thufir Fenring Sardaukar Yeuh Piter
Thufir
Fenring
Sardaukar
Yeuh
Piter
All images by Jean Giraud and are used here without intent to infringe any existing copyright.

 

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