It’s somehow strange to think of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney as contemporaries. That they could have worked together is insane and wonderful, but we almost never saw the fruits of that labor.
The astoundingly influential animators began working on a short film project together in 1946 that would lie dormant for 55 years. That project, Destino, appropriately deals with time. Its wordless plot focuses on a woman named Dahlia falling in love with Chronos, the God of Time, and languidly dancing through the types of surreal landscapes you’d expect from the bizarre-minded master.
It’s tempting to think of the Disney/Dali partnership as intriguing because of how different their styles were until you remember that Disney was just as much Fantasia as he was Mickey Mouse, and Dali had produced work for Hollywood before (specifically Hitchcock). Still, their mythic personae on the same title screen conjures up images of Goofy’s face melting off his head.
So, obviously we all want to see that short film, too. Or maybe just use virtual reality to dive into Dali’s mind.
As for Destino, it exists because of the Fantasia side of the Disney legacy. The story goes that the collaboration was scrapped because there simply wasn’t enough money to make it after WWII. Those were the lean Disney years. In 1999, Roy Disney rediscovered the Dali storyboards while mining Disney’s history for Fantasia 2000, fell in love with the images, and the rest is what you see on your screen.
It’s a stunning short film comprised of Dali’s signature imagery (vast wastelands, melting figures, exotic transformations, shifting perspective, and shapes emerging from negative space), but it’s also technically an homage. Only 17 seconds of original footage (from animator John Hench) is in the finished piece. Fortunately, you can see the marriage of Dali’s imagination and Disney’s production ingenuity beaming in every cel.
You’d watch a trippy Goofy short, too, right? Let us know in the comments section.
Images: Walt Disney Company