Cultural Gutter: No Masterpiece Without Madness

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Frolicking afield once again, for my monthly article over at The Cultural Gutter. “You Can’t Make a Masterpiece Without Madness” takes a look at the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, the tale of how director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune never got made, and how that story of “failure” is oddly inspiring and uplifting.

Jodorowsky was best known for his films El Topo and Holy Mountain, which were bizarre blends of psychedelic insanity, profane philosophy, and epic scale. They are generally regarded as the first of the “midnight movies,” and although exceedingly weird and challenging, they are both masterpieces that found a surprisingly large audience amongst the counter-culture youths, freaks, and weirdos who were starved for more eclectic cinematic fare. Among these fans was Michel Seydoux, the scion of a wealthy French family who dreamed of becoming a movie producer. He sought out Jodorowsky and told the filmmaker he wanted them to make a movie together, and Jodorowsky could do whatever he wanted. “I want to make Dune!” he exclaimed enthusiastically, because there is nothing that Jodorowsky doesn’t do enthusiastically. Jodorowsky had never read Dune, mind you.

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