If you only see one documentary this season, make it Jodorowsky’s Dune. I saw this a week ago and it’s amazing to see what I’ve only heard bits and pieces of in various commentary tracks and featurettes.
The story is this: a crazy man got the option to make a Dune movie in the 1970s, and spent millions of dollars getting it ready to make - and he didn’t make it. Dan O’Bannon (writer of Alien), H.R. Giger, Moebius, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, and others were all signed to act, contribute, or create in some capacity with the rock bands Pink Floyd and Magma being signed on to contribute music.
Were this movie to get made, it could have very well beat Star Wars to the punch and have offered the world a very different direction as to what the big breakthrough sci-fi movie could have been. George Lucas gave us (heck, me specifically) a worldview through the lens of what was a classic serial/myth/toy commercial. Jodorowsky was aiming to make a 10+ hour epic for the ages, aimed at a slightly older boy without visions of toys or action figures - there were also some liberties taken with the Dune story which the director describes in ways I can only relay to you as perfect. The cult-like nature of the production sounds similar to another piece of art from the era, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica.
The production seems like the ultimate yet stillborn product of 1970s cinema - the inclusion of huge names of the day seems incredible, and seeing the movie get crushed under its own weight as it runs out of money isn’t as heartbreaking as you think. (A Dune movie came out later, the director’s reaction to it is hysterical.) It’s a very positive message about those who dare to try - it stings a little because I try a whole lot less these days - but if you’re the slightest bit interested in the creative process of darned near anything, it would be to your benefit to go see this.
Unnecessary bonus anecdote: I was unsure how to pronounce the director’s name when I bought my tickets so I decided to go all out and ask for two for “Jabberwocky’s Dune,” which got a great round of laughs. It fell pretty flat on the Twitter. I guess you really did have to be there.