What happens when two of the world’s geniuses, a surrealist and an animator, collaborate on a short film? A surreal but long-lasting friendship and one of the cinema's oddest but best collaborations of all time.
Destino is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, 58 years before its eventual completion. The project was originally a collaboration between American animator Walt Disney and Spanish Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and features music written by Mexican songwriter Armando Dominguez and performed by Dora Luz. Now, 57 years later, a team of Disney animators has finished what Dalí started. The six-minute film, spearheaded by Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney and producer Baker Bloodworth (Dinosaur).
Though Dalí's admiration for Walt Disney might seem strange today -- for some the name Disney now evokes the opposite of subversive -- the outrageous surrealist painter held the animator and studio chief in high-enough esteem to want to make a movie with him.
"I have come to Hollywood and am in touch with the three great American surrealists -- the Marx Brothers, Cecil B. DeMille and Walt Disney," the artist wrote to his friend Andre Breton in 1937.
The remnants of the aborted film include 150 storyboards, drawings and paintings, which have sat for the last half-century in the Disney vaults. Those works were the basis of the new Destino, which combines some of Dalí's iconic images -- the melting clock, the tower of babble, a nightmarish beach, a pyramid with a clock embedded in its base -- and adds motion. Images morph into one another, everything unfolding with a haunting, dreamlike serenity.
Though Destino uses some computer-generated imagery -- part of the film was modeled on the animation program Maya -- Bloodworth said the intent of the computer generation was to enhance the film's period look.
"We wanted be true to its original design and conceit of 1945, and we were careful and not liberal with the use of CG," he said. "We used CG very specifically to preserve a look that represented what we think Dalí and Walt would have tried to create." The effect, said film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, is a blend of '40s Disney kitsch and pure Dalí, with an overlay of contemporary sensibility.
"It makes perfect sense that Disney used computer technology to do the 360-degree turns and to make some of the images seem more dimensional than they might in a 2-D cartoon," said Maltin, whose books include Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. "Dalí's work was always very dimensional, and he was keenly interested in playing with perspective."
Dalí, whose previous film experience included two short films with the Spanish master Luis Buñuel, approached Disney at a dinner party at the house of Warner Brothers head Jack Warner. Dalí, then working on Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, believed he and Disney could create what he called "the first motion picture of the Never Seen Before."
Disney agreed, and assigned director John Hench to help Dalí turn the Mexican ballad "Destino," by Armando Dominguez, into a kind of prototypical music video. (Hench, now 95, continues to come to work every day at the Disney lot, and consulted on the new Destino.)
Dalí spent his time at the Disney studio painting, drawing and discussing with Hench the challenges of adding motion to what he described as his "hand-colored photographs." The project continued for eight months, and was abandoned in 1947 when the Disney studio ran into financial problems. Dalí died in 1989.
Parts of the Destino portfolio have occasionally shown up at auction -- some believe that cels and sketches were stolen from the Disney studio. But the remaining paintings, sketches and storyboards, along with 15 seconds of a test reel, were enough source material for director Dominique Monfery and his team of 25 Disney animators, based in Paris.
Would Dalí -- an artist who once said, "I don't do drugs, I am drugs" -- have approved of the revived Destino? That's the question Bloodworth asked himself throughout the making of the film. "I wish he was still alive," he said. "I do think Dalí and Walt would both be very proud that it was finished, no matter what they thought of it." -- quoted article source: wired.com