News. Dalí + Disney = Destino

Figueres, 5 November 2010

The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres has been the setting for the worldwide presentation of the Disney films Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 in Blu-ray, which will be available for the first time on 9 February 2011. Moreover, Destino has been screened; a film produced in year 2003 after the Salvador Dalí designs commissioned in 1946 by Walt Disney.

With the occasion of this worldwide presentation, the Dalí Foundation has organised a small format show at the Drawings Room, with materials owned by the Foundation that illustrate the intense collaboration between both genius for the execution of Destino. The exhibition will permanently screen this film and will also show 27 pieces: 1 oil painting, 1 watercolour, 15 preparatory drawings, –10 of which are unpublished–, and 9 photographs of Dalí in the creative process of this material, of the Disney couple in Portlligat in 1957, and the Dalí couple in Burbank (California). An educational leaflet has been published about the exhibition contents, in 4 languages.

The presentation has been presided over by Juan Manuel Sevillano, Managing Director of the Dalí Foundation, Montse Aguer, director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, and David A. Bossert, creative director and head of special projects of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Fantasia, 1940
An animation film of avant-garde completely in line with the dreamlike magic Dalí surrealism, coinciding with the period the painter lived in the United States of America. Fantasia shows an innovative Walt Disney in the period between wars, and evokes the childhood in Marceline, Disney’s birthplace, symbol of an idyllic and missed America.

Blu-ray is a new disc format, registered with blue-laser ray, which allows for a higher resolution. The big film producers use it because it offers a better quality and higher storage capacity than formats like the DVD.

Destino, 1946
This film of 7-minute length, nominated for the Oscar awards, is the result of the collaboration between the Disney Studios and Salvador Dalí. The project was not supposed to become a big success, and so the factory declined its production until, in year 2003, a nephew of the founder, Roy Disney, took it as a personal challenge, recovered the original material kept in the Disney Studios and the Dalí Foundation and finally produced the film.

Context of the exhibition DALÍ + DISNEY = DESTINO
In 1946, the art of Salvador Dalí and the drawings of Walt Disney merged in a cartoon project called Destino. The collaboration between Dalí and Disney was formalised in a work contract signed on the 14 January 1946 and set to last for two months. At that time Dalí worked regularly at the Disney Studios in Burbank, California, creating the drawings for Destino. Two other Disney collaborators, John Hench and Bob Cormack, also took part in the process, and with them Dalí conceived and worked on the pictures that were to illustrate the love story portrayed in the film.

The source of inspiration for this Dalí-Disney project was the Mexican song by Armando Domínguez entitled Destino. Its words lent substance to the plot of the film, while the music accompanied the images throughout. Destino, through cartoon, set out to recount and stress the importance of time as we wait for destiny to act on our lives. The love story between the dancer and the baseball-player-cum-god Cronos is the guiding strand through which we are shown the many ups-and-downs we have to experience before destiny makes its appearance.

In Destino, Dalí once again brings out his most inherent and personal iconography, making use of the Empordà landscape and the device of dual images to transport them and work on them in the new language of cartoons. A combination of these dual images with transformations of objects and constant reference to works illustrates a dream world in which there blend Disney drawings full of personality and Dalí’s surrealist imagination-scape. Dalí himself tells us that in Destino he endeavours to reflect a “magical portrayal of the problems of life in the labyrinth of time”. He even most explicitly describes a sequence for us: “(...) the shadow of the bell merges into the silhouette of the girl, and the two of them begin to dance. The head of Cronos sculpted onto the pyramid disengages itself from the stone and also begins to dance, trying to cast off a hail of monsters falling from the sky. Cronos drives the monsters out of his body, but each time he gets one off a hole is left in him”.

In fact, if we consider that one Dalinian constant is his bringing together of the elitist artistic idea and mass culture (and vice versa), then the collaboration he sets up with Disney leads to a coming together of two strongly questing languages. Destino becomes a unique artistic product in which Dalinian expressiveness is combined with Disney’s fantasy and sonority, making it a film in which Dalí’s images take on movement and Disney’s figures become “Dalinised”.

The film originally lasted between six and eight minutes and was to form part of a “package film”, meaning a full-length film in which various shorter episodes or stories were combined. However, Destino was not completed in 1946, when only a 15-second experimental sequence was filmed. We may deduce that the Second World War and lack of budget at the time did not help the project to go ahead. But finally, in 2003, and thanks to the effort put in by various institutions, headed by Disney itself, it was decided that the project should get under way once more; the sketches were recovered, along with the initial ideas on which the film was based. Destino ended up becoming a reality that could be watched and enjoyed by a broad audience, as its original creators had planned.
Although Disney owns most of the drawings, and even five paintings, which Dalí and his collaborators at the Disney factory had produced for Destino, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí retains several sketches and outlines for the images of the film that the artist had kept for himself. These are mainly little-known preparatory studies made in pencil and ink on oven paper, from notebooks in which Dalí would draw and redraw the images he had in his head, in a concentrated and exciting creative process that reflects the enthusiasm he felt for the project.

The exhibition Dalí + Disney = Destino will be on show from 5th November until 8th May 2011 in the Drawings Room.