10 Unrealized Book-to-Film Adaptations We’d Like to Have Seen

Dune, directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The film version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece was a notoriously troubled production for screenwriter/director David Lynch, but before his adaptation reached cinemas in 1984, the film had been through a long and torturous development period in the 1970s, coming closest to production with the brilliant, idiosyncratic Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) at the helm. Jodorowsky planned to tell the story as a ten-hour epic, with an eclectic cast including Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, Geraldine Chaplin, and David Carradine; Pink Floyd was to compose the score, and H.R. Giger and Dan O’Bannon (both of whom later worked on Alien) were on the effects team. Thousands of storyboards were drawn, costumes were designed, and something like $2 million of the film’s budget was spent on pre-production expenses, but Jodorwosky’s script was out of control (author Herbert, visiting the production offices, said it was “the size of a phonebook”) and the film’s French financing dried up. The picture was abandoned, though the filmmaker wrote a fascinating account of the process later, republished here. (UPDATE: One of our commenters alerts us that a documentary is in the works on the abandoned project, called Jodorowsky’s Dune; we’ve added a clip from it above.)