Frank Herbert's Dune is one of the great works of science fiction literature, and so it's understandable that there would be interest in bringing such a story to life on the big screen. However, doing so has proved difficult. David Lynch's 1984 version was a famous flop, but before even that, director Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to bring Dune to the screen in a way that would never see the light of day. Jodorowsky has now apparently seen the trailer for the upcoming Denis Villeneuve directed version, and he has opinions. Although, it should be said most of his opinions have to less to do with his thoughts on Dune itself versus what the movie represents.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of those filmmakers where one can easily use the label auteur. He is a unique filmmaker with a unique voice and perspective. And this is his major criticism with Dune based on the trailer. Speaking with France's Le Point (and translated by Google), Jodorowsky wishes the film success but ultimately feels that the movie, being a modern Hollywood blockbuster, simply looks like every modern Hollywood blockbuster. According to the director...
I wish his Dune would be a great success, because Denis Villeneuve is a nice director, about whom I have been told a lot. I saw the trailer. It's very well done. We see that this is industrial cinema, that there is a lot of money, and that it has cost a lot of money. But if it was very expensive, it must pay off in proportion. And this is the problem: there are no surprises. The form is identical to what is done everywhere, the lighting, the acting, everything is predictable.
What Alejandro Jodorowsky refers to here as "industrial cinema" is what we would otherwise think of as the Hollywood machine. Denis Villeneuve Dune is, without question, a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, in many ways like other Hollywood blockbusters. The specifics of Dune may give it a unique aesthetic, but the process by which the movie was made was largely the same as other movies, and thus, in Jodorowsky's opinion, the result ends up looking largely the same. The 2013 documentary film Jodorowsky's Dune goes into exactly what his version of the story would have looked like, and there's little argument that his Dune would have been unlike anything we'd seen before.
There are certainly many different schools of thought when it comes to movie-making, and Alejandro Jodorowsky clearly believes that a movie should be the singular vision and creation of its director. He believes there is more to making movies than simply entertaining an audience, and he doesn't see anything in this version of Dune beyond that. The director continues...
Industrial cinema is incompatible with auteur cinema. For the first, money comes before the work. For the second, it is the reverse. And this, whatever the quality of a director, whether it is my friend Nicolas Winding Refn or Denis Villeneuve. Industrial cinema promotes entertainment, it is a show that is not intended to change humanity or society.
Alejandro Jodorowsky isn't entirely off base here. In the case of this version of Dune, the idea of making the movie came from the studio (the money) and not from the director, or at least this director, having a vision for the project. To Jodorowsky's way of thinking, that's the wrong way round.
That being said, while Dune may not change humanity, it can still be an impressive film and these days promoting entertainment is hardly the worst thing you can do.