THE DESTINY OF DALI'S DESTINO
© 2003 Ron Barbagallo
Salvador Dali at work at the Walt Disney Studio, circa 1946 (left).
A Dali oil painting produced for Destino was later incorporated within the completed short (right).
The phonograph needle ground into its stop groove. Armando Dominguez’s sweeping Mexican Ballad Destino finished establishing the mood. The walls of the room were a montage of pencil
sketches and paintings. Salvador Dali paused as he completed narrating the
visual sequences to this song, and told a journalist at the Disney Studio in
1946 that everything he ever painted will be in it, all his pictorial concepts
-- the melancholy of space, dissolving images, hallucinations of man and landscape.
Just as with Bauhaus abstract painter and animator Oskar Fischinger who worked
on Pinocchio and Fantasia, Walt Disney invited Salvador Dali to invigorate the artistic boundaries of
his studio. The two met at a party that WB studio head Jack Warner gave
around the time Dali was designing a sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound. Shortly thereafter, Dali started work on the Disney lot designing visuals for
a short entitled Destino which was intended for inclusion in one of Disney’s anthology features, like Make Mine Music. Walt Disney stated in 1946: “Like the Night On Bald Mountain sequence Kay Nielson designed for Fantasia, I want to give more big artists such opportunities. We need them. We have to
keep breaking new trails.”
Seen at the left is a finished conceptual oil painting done by Dali as inspiration
for his Disney short
Destino. At the right, is the Dali painting as it appears in the film -- with some digital
elements used to
extend the perimeter of his painting and with an animated figure and two prop
To the public the name Dali became synonymous with Surrealism, an art form from
the 1920’s derived from the writings and art of post World War One Dadaists. Surrealists
drew inspiration from dreams and a study of the Freudian subconscious.
Their art was meant to startle and disturb the viewer, not only through
abstract technique, but by its primal and arbitrary subject matter.
Dali took these intellectual themes from a decade earlier and by
using a more realistic painting technique (one that owed its lineage
more to the luminous color and renderings of Jan Vermeer and Jean
Louis Ernest Meissonier than the harshness of Max Ernst or André Masson) made Surrealism tangible to the public.
The symbolism in Dali’s art was uniquely Dali. It drew from his everyday life and extracted seemingly
arbitrary things such as infinite desert plains, marble statues, baseball players,
bicyclists or telephones and used them as icons where through their isolation
they became symbols for deeper emotional themes. A poetic hieroglyphic where
limp watches symbolize the destruction of time and the tragedy of love, an
open hand with ants eating at the line of the palm depicts the disintegration
of man, a crutch suggests that man can not live alone.
Three conceptual images created by Dali in preparation for Destino.
Twenty two paintings and 135 story sketches into the project, Dali was asked
to abandon Destino as the package pictures of the 40s proved financially unsuccessful. It lay dormant
for 57 years until Walt’s nephew and executive producer, Roy E. Disney instructed producer Baker Bloodworth
and director Dominique Monfery to complete Dali’s short. They did so with the assistance of John Hench, who along with Bob Cormack
assisted Dali on the original project. The finished film unites Dali’s surrealist vocabulary to animation and includes five of Dali’s original paintings.
Walt Disney described Destino as “a simple love story, where boy meets girl.”
An arid dream, a poem -- Dali’s Destino is a haunted relationship play, where the turmoil of unresolved romance struggles
to the mind’s surface. It challenges today the way it was meant to challenge in the 40s,
and asks the viewer, and the animation industry, to see beyond conscious commercial
possibilities, to blaze their own aesthetic destiny.
Another Dali oil painting to which animation of a baseball player and baseball
were later added.
VIEWINGS OF SALVADOR DALI'S DISNEY SHORT - DESTINO
Dali's Destino played at the Telluride Film Festival and is scheduled to be at the New York
Film Festival on October 14, 2003 and the Chicago Film Festival --
sometime in October 2003.
It is scheduled to play the ArcLight Theatre in Hollywood, California on Fri,
November 7, 2003 at 6:30 pm and Sun, November 9, 2003 at noon as
part of the AFI International Shorts Competition. Admission is $11.00.
At this time, there is no theatrical release date.
A DVD featuring Destino was slated to be released on November 11, 2008 but has been put back in the
company's release schedule; it is not known at this time when the
DVD will be released. When it does come out it will also include
a documentary on the making of Destino featuring John Hench and Joe Grant and two new featurettes: The Disney That Almost Was, an examination of the studio’s unfinished projects and Encounters with Walt, a film about celebrities and artists who were attracted to Walt Disney’s early work.
DESTINO CONCEPT ART BY SALVADOR DALI
All images are © Disney Enterprises Inc.
The author would like to thank Roy Disney, Walt Disney Feature Animation, the
Walt Disney Archives and Dave Smith, the Walt Disney Publicity Department
and Howard Green, Ray Morton and Dave Koch for their help.
This article and interview is owned by © Ron Barbagallo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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ARTICLES ON AESTHETICS IN ANIMATION
BY RON BARBAGALLO:
The Art of Making Pixar's Ratatouille is revealed by way of an introductory article followed by interviews with production
designer Harley Jessup, director of photography/lighting Sharon Calahan
and the film's writer/director Brad Bird.
Design with a Purpose, an interview with Ralph Eggleston uses production art from Wall-E to illustrate the production design of Pixar's cautionary tale of a robot on
a futuristic Earth.
Shedding Light on the Little Matchgirl traces the path director Roger Allers and the Disney Studio took in adapting
the Hans Christian Andersen story to animation.
The Destiny of Dali's Destino, in 1946, Walt Disney invited Salvador Dali to create an animated short based
upon his surrealist art. This writing illustrates how this short
got started and tells the story of the film's aesthetic.
A Blade Of Grass is a tour through the aesthetics of 2D background painting at the Disney Studio
from 1928 through 1942.
Lorenzo, director / production designer Mike Gabriel created a visual tour de force in
this Academy Award® nominated Disney short. This article chronicles how the short was made and includes
an interview with Mike Gabriel.
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, an interview with Graham G. Maiden's narrates the process involved with taking
Tim Burton's concept art and translating Tim's sketches and paintings
into fully articulated stop motion puppets.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, in an interview exclusive to this web site, Nick Park speaks about his influences,
on how he uses drawing to tell a story and tells us what it was like
to bring Wallace and Gromit to the big screen.
For a complete list of PUBLISHED WORK AND WRITINGS by Ron Barbagallo,
click on the link above and scroll down.