Picture Piece: Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney

by Andrew Sholl

Over half a century in the making, Dalí's Disney collaboration arrives on the big screen


They were the art world's ultimate odd couple: the Midwestern sentimentalist who gave the world Bambi (1942), and the eccentric Surrealist responsible for images such as Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumble Bee Around a Pomegranate One Second Before Waking Up (1944). A chance meeting at a party at the Hollywood home of producer Jack Warner led the two cultural titans to strike up a friendship that would lead to a famed - and doomed - collaboration.

For eight months between 1946 and 1947 Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí toiled on an animated short, set to the tune of a popular Mexican ballad. Replete with Dalí's trademark melting clocks and nightmarish statues, Destino was to have formed a part of an omnibus feature along the lines of Fantasia. But with the cameras ready to roll, Disney ran into financial difficulties and the project was abandoned. For 57 years all that remained were 150 storyboards, drawings and paintings and a tantalizing 15 seconds of test footage.

Until now, that is. The 'last unreleased Walt Disney picture', as producer Baker Bloodworth describes it, has been completed by a new generation of filmakers at the behest of Walt's nephew, studio animation chief Roy E. Disney.

Initially Bloodworth and Paris-based director Dominique Monfery blanched at the idea of bringing Dalí's wild-eyed visual imagery to life. 'But', says Bloodworth, 'we came to understand that Dalí's artwork quite naturally lends itself to animation because it is so highly dimensional [sic].' The production team was also fortunate to be able to call on 95-year-old Disney veteran John Hench, who worked with Dalí on the original project.

The final result blends traditional rendered animation and computer graphics to give the film a period look and feel. Destino is currently screening at festivals around the world, giving cinema-goers their first glimpse of a daring artistic experiment described by Dali as a 'magical exposition of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time' and which for half a century was animation's holy grail.

Andrew Sholl

frieze magazine

November-December 2003
Issue 79

First published in Issue 79

November-December 2003

Most Read

David Hammons, The Wine Leading  the Wine, c.1969, body print, 1 × 1.2 m. Courtesy: George Economou Collection, Athens; photograph: Bill Orcutt 

Review

Mnuchin Gallery, New York & The George Economou Collection, Athens

Review

Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK

Feature

A new Smithsonian Museum highlights African American history and culture

Feature

The multiple worlds of Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler’s experimental magazine-turned-exhibition, Mould Map

Culture Digest

From gay communes to surrealist ethnography: what to read about this weekend

Culture Digest

The final part of this week's Culture Digest looks at two recently reissued books by Eileen Myles

News

Finland cuts state funding for Guggenheim’s proposed Helsinki museum; Barack Obama to inaugurate new Washington D...

Picture Piece

Georgiana Houghton's 19th-century spirit paintings

Feature

On using art to reflect on its own labour

Review

Holmwood House, Glasgow, UK

Feature

Surrealism, anthropology and the history of the recently re-opened Musée de l'Homme
I will be last (performed by Brett Milspaw and Alexandra Tuttle), performance documentation, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2008. Courtesy: the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York; Michael Werner, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin

Feature

With the opening of artist's major MoMA show, some reflections on Kai Althoff's exalted characters and...
Anna Ostoya, A Kiss, 2016, oil on canvas, 61 x 76 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Silberkuppe, Berlin; photograph: Timo Ohler

Critic's Guide

The best shows opening as part Berlin Art Week
Elephant, Palais des Glaces, Paris. Photograph: Pierre Antoine

Influences

From hissing dragons to oozing amoebas: as his show opens at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, the London-based artist...

Culture Digest

The first of this week's three book columns looks at the second instalment of Rachel Cusk's trilogy
Elfie Semotan, Untitled, 2016, archival pigment print, 47 x 61 cm. Courtesy: Gisela Capitain, Cologne © the artist

Critic's Guide

A round-up of the best recently opened shows in the neighbouring Rhineland cities

Influences

From Jenny Holzer to the Ferguson protests, the filmmaker shares some important images ahead of her show at Ryan Lee
Alicia Barney, Valle de Alicia (Valley of Alicia), 2016, metal, wood, paper, PVC, acrylic emulsion, dimensions variable. Commissioned by the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo for the 32nd Bienal, 2016. Photograph: Leo Eloy / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Critic's Guide

First impressions of the biennial which focuses on the uncertainty of today’s world

Review

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA

Latest Magazines

Frieze Week

London 2016
frieze d/e issue 25, Autumn 2016

frieze d/e

Autumn 2016

frieze magazine

October 2016