Jodorowsky on Chris Foss

21st Century Foss.

"Dune had to be made. But what kind of spaceships to use? Certainly not the degenerate and cold offspring of present day American automobiles and submarines, the very antithesis of art, usually seen in science fiction films, including 2001. No! I wanted magical entities, vibrating vehicles, like fish that swim and have their being in the mythological deeps of the surrounding ocean. The 'galactic' ships of North American technocracy are a mouse-gray insult to the divine, therefore delirious, chaos of the universe. I wanted jewels, machine-animals, soul-mechanisms. Sublime as snow crystals, myriad-faceted fly eyes, butterfly pinions. Not giant refrigerators, transistorised and riveted hulks; bloated with imperialism, pillage, arrogance and eunuchoid science.

Spice Container Designs
Spice Container. Sketch for Spice Container. Spice Container, design for Dune, 1975.

"I affirm that next to the soul the most beautiful object in the galaxy is a spaceship! We all dreamed of womb-ships, antechambers for rebirth into other dimensions; we dreamed of whore-ships driven by the semen of our passionate ejaculations. The invincible and castrating rocket carrying our vengeance to the icy heart of a treacherous sun; humming-bird ornithopters which fly us to sip the ancient nectar of the dwarf stars giving us the juice of eternity. Yes! But far more than that: angelic splendour! We dreamed of caterpillar-tracked hotrods so vast that their tails would disappear behind the horizon.

Pirate Ship Designs
Shot-up pirate ship spilling spice. Dune pirate ship illustration. Striated meteorite with camouflaged pirate ship in foreground.
The camouflage of this pirate ship is useless the powerful sensors of her attacker. Valuable spice leaks out, as the ship drifts lifelessly away from the scene of a conflict.

We saw ourselves enmeshed in these huge masses hurtling a dizzy train of planets from a dark world bound for a galaxy drowned in starry milk. We saw ourselves inside minute ether- dwelling sharks crossing seven thousand universes in one Terrene second, leaving a sound- wake freezing into a trail of hallucinatory pearls. Trains to carry away the whole of humanity; machines greater than suns wandering crazed and rusted, whimpering like dogs seeking a master. And great wings sucking the marrow of comets. And thinking wheels hidden behind meteorites, waiting, camouflaged as metallic rocks, for a drop of life to pass through those lost galactic fringes to slake thirsty tanks with psychic secretions. All this and more I wanted for Dune.

Ship Designs
Sardauker warship. Ornithopter, to be built as a model. Guild Merchant ship for Dune. Design requirement was for a large gross menacing ship.
Sardauker warship Ornithopter Guild Merchant ship

"Then, suddenly, in a bookshop in the pages of an English magazine I found splashed III a thousand colours what I had believed impossible to -depict. These spaceships that pleased and moved me were Chris Foss'. I covered the studio walls where I was preparing the film with his works. All masterpieces. I hired various sleuths to track him down. You see, in those heady days I had power! I had a multi-million dollar commitment behind me: a commitment that remained unfulfilled. I had it in my power to call upon the best brains of our generation to collaborate on a project that was to give a messiah to the world. Not a human being, but a film. A film that would be our master. Dune had made me its apostle; but I needed others, and one of these was Chris Foss.

The Emperor's Palace
The Emperor's Palace, in the centre of his artificial planet. Emperor's artificial planet. Maquette design to be fabricated in fibreglass: entrance ramp to the Emperor's Palace.
Under the Emperor's rule, many a tortured souls' voice rang out from the palace to echo across the prairie. Clad in pure gold, this citadel remains a valuable testament to the cruelties of some civilizations.

"What the hell would this mutant be like? Because he had to be a mutant to draw like that! These were not drawings. They were visions! Would he be some neurotic old man? A maniac drug addict? Would one be able to talk to him? Then Chris Foss turned up, completely English with his tap-dancer's shoes, his tight suit as worn by Casanovas in sophisticated dives, with a tooth of quick-gold (I thought it was a diamond), with a yellow shirt of imperial silk, the blinding tie of an aesthetic hit-man, with a child's smile so penetrating he could turn into a hyena. Yes: Chris Foss was a true angel, a being as real and as unreal as his spaceships. A mediaeval goldsmith of future eons; a being who carried his drawings with the same ultra-maternal care as the Kaitanese Kangarooboos carry the children born of their self-insemination.

Ship Designs
Guild tug that pulls Spice Containers. Earlier Guild tug design. Early Sardauker warship.
This Spice Tug pulls barges loaded with valuable material. Despite the treasure, this tug is unarmed, relying on its armed escorts for protection.

"Chris arrived very nervous and mistrustful. He was afraid that we would impose a style on him, that we would limit him. But when he realized that he had total freedom he fell into ecstasy. He bought himself a special glass drawing-board which made his paper transparent, so that the lines seemed to float in space. And he plunged into his work for hours, millennia. He would go for long walks in the small hours to a little plaza where lepidopterous creatures with human skin and prehistoric perfumes would entwine their pink tongues with long, transparent hairs around his British member. I also saw him slake his physicoemoto- intellectuometaphysical thirst with alcohols seeping like tears from eyes slashed open in the aggressive air of a hotel corridor.

Leto's Car
Leto's car. This would have been built on an adapted truck chassis, and was required to be capable of 60mph. It had to carry up to nine people, and mount a staircase. Earlier version of Leto's car. Leto's car. The gun turrets had to occupied, and dead bodies would slide from the tailgate.

"And thus were born the mimetic spaceships, the leather and dagger-studded machines of the fascist Sardaukers;- the pachydermatous geometry of Emperor Padishah's golden planet; the delicate butterfly plane and so many other incredible machines, which I am sure will one day populate interstellar space. Chris Foss knows that today's technical reality is tomorrow's falsehood. Chris also knows that today's pure art is tomorrow's reality. Man will conquer space mounted on Foss' spaceships, never in NASA's concentration camps of the spirit. I was grateful for the existence of my friend. He brought the colours of the apocalypse to the sad machines of a future without imagination."

More Designs
Harkonnen flagship sketch. Harkonnen flagship. Floating land machine, which would have been assembled in the Mexican Desert. Energy-radiating column. One of a number which surrounded the Emperor's Palace.

Taken from 21st Century Foss, and the Chris Foss Trading Card set.

For more information check out the Official Chris Foss website.