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SALVADOR DALÍ’S DESTINO: Lost, Found and RESTORED to Dalí’s original intent
THE PHOTOSTATIC SALVADOR DALÍ STORYBOARDS reveal Dalí had a much fuller narrative in mind for his short Destino.
Destino has six distinct sections that represent a very coherent beginning, middle and end.
The short starts out introducing the image of man (Chronos) and woman (Dahlia) both set upon a pyramid-shaped metronomes that feature a clock dial. It is a dark stage where the couple meet in profile against a nighttime landscape.
Their encounter shifts quickly into a more ‘realistic’ setting - a party environment set on an ascending spiral. Dahlia is seen more sexualized here and Chronos is represented by a series of male figures. If you look closely, you will see the spiral they’re in features the trappings of a party: formal attire, drinks and an exploding champagne bottle in heart area of one of the Chronos male figures. This party sequence involves Dahlia presenting herself while Chronos literally becomes electrified by her presence. He tries to pull her into his orbit. She recoils and runs up the spiral where she retreats into a conch shell.
— End of the first sequence.
In the next section, the epic mindscape enlarges and we see a dream-like sky full of surreal images that include telephone handles, classic architectural elements, flying fish, gelatinous shapes, metronomes, eyeballs and a sky-catcher attempting to bring order to the chaos in the sky. After the fact that world is larger than the two of them is established, Dahlia emerges
and transcends a staircase made of telephone handles. The landscape is here is made up of a cluster of buildings, not unlike those found in ancient Egypt. Dahlia arrives at the base of the metronome where Chronos is attached. She presents herself to him again, this time as a figure in silhouette. He is so attracted to her presence that he attempts to pull himself off the architecture where he is mounted. She rises from the shadows and starts to dance. This dance represents is the first ballet sequence. It is significantly more conventional than the second Baseball ballet. During this first dance, Dahlia's head becomes baseball shaped and she is also introduced as a dandelion blossom.
— End of the second sequence.
As in life, ‘relationships’ based solely upon physical attractions frustrate, and Chronos (while freed to encounter Dahlia), ends up having to blow her (in the form of a dandelion blossom) a kiss goodbye. He gazes into the palm of his hand after releasing her and this causes a new landscape to emerge. One reminding him of his biological clock, and one filed with tiny bicyclists steadily moving forward. In this sequence, the dance between the couple is less formal and soon the two are confronted by
a barrier that arises between them. The barrier where doors and windows emerge to frustrate their union. [This is where
the animatic film clip above starts]. The couple literally struggle to meet as windows and doors appear and close before them. This sequence also repeats and introduces a lot of symbolism you will see in the remainder of short: Dahlia, as seen as both a round ball or baseball shape and a dandelion blossom ballerina, telephone handsets, ancient relics, and the tortoise shell couple that are featured prominently later in the film.
— End of the third sequence.
Rejected, Chronos is sent upon a journey through the relics. He is forlorn. Dahlia is seen in this sequence as a small dandelion blossom ballerina who follows Chronos as he navigates through a maze of relics in this mindscape desert. Soon an index figure anchored in the architecture falls around Chronos and points his way. Chronos follows the finger into a cavern that features an array of clock dials, some big, some small, and some seen in varying degrees of consciousness. At the end of the clock faced passage way is a U-shaped doorway where seemingly unrelated elements emerge and create a classic Greco-Roman head. Chronos jumps through this passage way and lands on the other side where Dahlia is waiting for him.
— End of the fourth sequence.
On this other side, the Baseball Ballet starts and it is quick to introduce that Chronos and Dahlia are part of a much larger game, an actual baseball game. Dancing around them and this active baseball diamond are the tortoise shell couple. They’re back and seen in the background of the ballet. Overall, this ballet is grander than the first, full of symbolism and metaphor. It has many conflicting layers. It ends when the batter hits a “home run” and the ball impales the umpire, who turns into vapor.
[This is where the animatic film clip above ends].
— End of the fifth sequence.
This begins Dalí's grand finale for Destino, a place where all Dalí’s seemingly disconnected elements converge into one massive visual ballet. It involves the tortoise shell of the tortoise shell couple, eyeballs, dandelion blossoms and the ever present telephone handles. The Busby Berkeley-like tunnel sequence is very elaborate, nearly hypnotic, and as the symbolic elements introduced in the short come together, they end up shattering as the tunnel ends and a series of architectural places emerge. Chronos emerges out of the center of this chaos, right from the center of it and a heart (or possibly the sacred heart?) appears above him as his spirit becomes one with the great architecture that rises around him. This sequence if visually elaborate. It represents the end of Chronos' journey from physical lust to emotional love. He is now able to open his heart to receive Dahlia and here the short concludes.
— This is the end of the sixth and final sequence.
The Destino narrative, as seen in the photostatic storyboards, is very coherent. It fits Dalí’s description of the short and displays Dalí's willingness to apply his aesthetic to the Disney aesthetic of the early 1940s. The film was never meant to be peculiar, harsh or choppy — Conversely, it’s romantic. A grand ballet of imagery with a story that is quite fluid and linear. The work overall displays a respect for the optical 'art' of Herman Schultheis who would have worked at Disney from February 1939 to June 1940. In defense of the Walt Disney Studio, Dalí's version of this short could have easily have run 18 to 22 minutes in a fully produced version. It would have also cost a substantial amount of money to create due to the fact that everything in every frame animates and dissolves (and often at different rates of visibility). It would have also taken years to execute using the technology of the day, if it could have even been done using the techniques of the day.
part of the Lost and FOUND series from
THE RESEARCH LIBRARY AT ANIMATION ART CONSERVATION
RESTORATION BY RON BARBAGALLO
This video clip is displayed in accord with the licensing agreement Disney granted to Ron Barbagallo at the request of Roy E. Disney.
READ MORE ABOUT THE DESTINO STORYBOARDS AND STORY SKETCHES DISCOVERY:
The 12 minute 12 second animatic for the restored version of Destino was presented to the world for the very first time as an artistic discovery in a classroom of art history students at Chapman University on December 1, 2015.
All images are © Disney Enterprises Inc.