Dune (lost Alejandro Jodorowsky/Moebius screenplay and storyboards; Frank Herbert screenplay; Ridley Scott drafts; 2014)

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The cover to the book, from Jodorowsky's Dune (2014).

Status: Lost

Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel Dune is the world's best-selling sci-fi novel, and the root of the entire Dune franchise. In 1975, the internationally renowned Chilean-French film director Alejandro Jodorowsky began working on an adaptation of the film, but after two years of pre-production and planning, everything fell through when Jodorowsky failed to find financing from American producers.

Nevertheless, around twenty large, multi-phone-book sized collections of the full script and storyboard of Dune were published[1]. Initially meant to help woo financiers, it is rumored that only two copies of the book are still in existence; one belongs to Jodorowsky himself, and is featured prominently in the 2014 documentary Jodorowsky's Dune, which retells the story of the two years of pre-production.

Jodorowsky's Dune

Jodorowsky had never read the book before, but had been suggested to adapt the story from a friend who recommended the book. He then enlisted the help of notable figures from across the world, including Jean "Moebius" Giraud, with whom Jodorowsky created the storyboards and character designs; Dan O'Bannon, who was to create the special effects for the film; Chris Ross and H.R. Giger, who helped in art direction; and the rock bands Pink Floyd and Magma, who would compose the music for the two separate planets. Potential cast members included Jodorowsky's own son, David Carradine, Salvador Dali (who demanded a $100,000-per-hour paycheck), and Orson Welles. The script itself was well over the usual page count for a film and was rumored to have a twelve-hour running time.

Herbert's Dune and Scott's Dune

After Jodorowsky's Dune failed to be financed, Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis was sold the rights, and in 1978 he commissioned Herbert to write a screenplay. However, the screenplay he turned in was 175 pages, resulting in a three-hour film, which (while not as extreme as Jodorowsky's script) was still too long for De Laurentiis.

The next year, Ridley Scott was hired to direct the film, with Rudy Wurlitzer as writer. Scott wrote three drafts of the script, intending to split the single book into two separate films. However, the slow pre-production and the inevitably slower production process were unattractive, and Scott left the project to direct Blade Runner.

Lynch's Dune

In 1981, De Laurentiis and his daughter, Raffaella, finally had a director: David Lynch. Like Jodorowsky, he too had never read the original novel, but still drafted several screenplays. The final result was a 135-page screenplay, a $40+ million budget, and a production that began in 1983, almost ten years after Jodorowsky first set out to create his version of the story. In the end, the final result was a three-hour film; cut down to 137 minutes, this is the only version of the film, and no others have ever been proven to have existed at any point. Lynch has further distanced himself from Dune and does not wish to ever revisit the property.


Trailer to "Jodorowsky's Dune".