The storyboard of Franco-Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for his accursed adaptation project of Dune was auctioned on Monday for € 2.66 million at Christie’s. An absolute record, well beyond his estimate.

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An absolute record. The storyboard of Franco-Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for his accursed adaptation project of Dune was auctioned on Monday for € 2.66 million at auction at Christie’s. Far above the estimate of this mythical object, valued before the sale between 25,000 and 35,000 €. It was acquired by an American bidder after a tough battle.

“The estimate had to take into account the reality of the market which we discover totally upset by the current theatrical success of Dune by Canadian Denis Villeneuve” explained the auction house.

Illustrated by plates and drawings made by the great Jean Giraud, dit Moebius, and HR Giger, the father of the xenomorphic creature Alien, who were to collaborate on the film project, this bible being used to convince investors to make Jodorowsky’s film has only been published in very few copies. “We are aware of a few other copies: one was offered for auction a few years ago, another is in the possession of Jodorowksy (…) and a third is partially reproduced online. It is difficult to assess the total print run. We can assume that between ten and twenty copies were produced “.

A mythical project

It was to be arguably one, if not THE most ambitious science fiction film ever made in the history of cinema. Too ambitious, certainly. “I wanted to make a film that would give people who were taking LSD at that time the hallucinations you have with drugs, but without hallucinating. I didn’t want them to take LSD, I wanted to fabricate the effects of drugs. and change the mindset of the audience. I wanted to create a prophet, to change young minds around the world. For me, Dune would be the arrival of a god. An artistic and cinematic god. It wasn’t about doing just a film. I wanted to create a sacred object, free, opening up new perspectives “, explains with incredible and moving sincerity the great Jodorowsky, in the extraordinary documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, precisely devoted to this cursed enterprise.

In 1975, the French producer Michel Seydoux offered Alejandro Jodorowsky a very ambitious adaptation of the cult SF novel. Dune At the movie theater. The latter, already director of the cult films El Topo and The Sacred Mountain, accepts. He then draws up a list of talents – which he also calls his “warriors” – which above all looks like a real Who’s Who artistic collaborations to make you dizzy.

Jean Giraud (Moebius), Dan O’Bannon, the future screenwriter of Alien, Hans-Ruedi Giger, the future creator of Alien, and Chris Foss, to start. Names that are going to be from all the (big) cinematic SF adventures of the 70s and 80s: Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner … The cast brings together Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, David Carradine or Amanda Lear, but also the young son of the filmmaker, Brontis Jodorowsky. Pink Floyd and Magma agree to sign the music for the film.

The producer and Jodorowsky then reunite all the artworks, preparatory drawings, scripts and storyboard in a colossal bible of the project, and given to all majors, in order to convince them to release the 5 million dollars necessary to complete the film’s budget, out of a global envelope of 15 million.

If the studios praise the indisputably innovative character of this project, not one does not wish to put his hand in the wallet. The reason ? Michel Seydoux gives it pithily in the film: in the eyes of majors, “everything was great … except the director” which scared them, because it was probably uncontrollable.

Below, the trailer for the documentary …

By their refusal, the studios finally killed the project. Ironically, it was picked up by Raffaella De Laurentiis, the daughter of famous producer Dino De Laurentiis. The adaptation was first entrusted to Ridley Scott in 1980 but when he learned of the death of his older brother, the director asked to have a film to shoot immediately in order to forget his sadness. Scott eventually withdrew to commit to making Blade Runner.

Laurentiis then turned to David Lynch. We know the rest: the stranglehold of the production on Lynch’s ambitions transformed the filming into a Way of the Cross for the filmmaker, to the point that he still refuses to talk about it, more than 30 years after the fact. The bitter theatrical failure of the film mortgaged not only Raffaella and her father Dino’s longings for a sequel, but also other projects like a sequel (sic!) To Conan the Destroyer.

Above all, and even more cynically, if Hollywood refused to put any money into Jodorowsky’s project, that did not prevent it from literally plundering from top to bottom the powerful ideas of staging, sets or of characters he had planned with his collaborators of geniuses in his bible, which circulated in all the corridors of Hollywood studios. We thus find some of his ideas in Star Wars, Terminator, Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Contact, and more … What exactly? It’s up to you to find out by watching Jodorowsky’s Dune !

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