Frank Herbert's Hugo- and Nebula-Award winning 1965 science fiction novel, Dune, has spawned six direct sequels penned in Herbert's lifetime, a still ongoing series of prequels and sequels written by his son, Brian, with Kevin Anderson, a commercially unsuccessful 1984 big-screen adaptation directed by David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet), a 2000 miniseries made for the Sci-Fi Channel (well before it became SyFy), followed by a miniseries that covered Herbert's second and third novels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, and if Paramount's announcement two years ago holds, another big-screen adaptation slated for a 2012 release.
Lynch's film may have been the first adaptation of Herbert's novel, but it wasn't the first attempt. Pre-Star Wars, George Lucas was interested in adapting Dune, but the film rights were unavailable. Lucas paid homage to Dune by setting some of the action in Star Wars on a desert planet, Tatooine. Planet of the Apes franchise producer Arthur P. Jacobs stepped up first, buying the film rights from Herbert in 1971. Jacobs hoped Lawrence of Arabia filmmaker David Lean would take the directing reins on the big-screen adaptation, but Lean turned him down. Jacobs' untimely death left Dune in limbo.
At surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's (The Holy Mountain, El Topo, Santa Sangre) request (actually demand) French producer Michael Seydoux purchased Dune's film rights from Jacobs' estate. Jodorowsky envisioned his son playing the central character, Paul Atreides, Orson Welles as the villainous Baron Harkonnen, and Salvador Dali as the Emperor Shaddam IV, with Pink Floyd providing an original score. Jodorowsky hired Jean Giraud (Moebius) of Heavy Metal fame and H.R. Giger (Alien) as concept artists. Production stopped before principal photography began. Dino De Laurentiis picked up the film rights and, after Ridley Scott's (Gladiator, Blade Runner, Alien) brief involvement, chose Lynch to direct.
We can add Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights, The Rundown) to the ever-expanding list of directors attached to direct an unrealized adaptation of Herbert's novel. Berg parted ways with new rights-owner Paramount last October for another big-budget, science-fiction action film, Battleship. Paramount tapped French helmer Pierre Morel (From Paris With Love, Taken, District: B-13) to take the directing reins. Unfortunately, Morel won't use the concept art developed for Berg's attempted adaptation. He'll start from scratch.
Luckily for Dune fans, one of the conceptual artists who worked with Berg, the singularly named Jock, is a comic-book artist best know for co-creating and illustrating The Losers, which made the jump to big screen earlier this year. Jock's website contains 26 sketches and paintings for Dune, and some (if not most) are worthy of print-making and wall-hanging.
You've already seen some of Jock's concept art for Dune here, but check out his website for the rest. Jock has also created concept art for Batman Begins, Children of Men, and Hancock.
What do you think of Jock's concept art for Berg's unrealized adaptation of Herbert's novel? Does it make you wonder what Berg's film would have looked like? Or are you a fan of the Dune universe who doesn't think a big-screen adaptation could work under any circumstances? If Paramount's big-screen adaptation falls through, do you want to see another miniseries? Maybe one with an adequate budget, something the 2000 miniseries for the Sci-Fi Channel obviously didn't have?
You can find out more about Jodorowsky's ill-fated adaptation, Lynch's critically and commercially unsuccessful 1984 adaptation, and the latest on Morel's attempt to bring Frank Herbert's seminal space opera to the big screen at Dune - Behind the Scenes.
[A tip of the baseball cap to Quiet Earth.]