Salvador Dali and Walt Disney: A Forgotten Collaboration That Will Leave You Breathless

By Raven Fon

Salvador Dali is one of the world’s greatest artists, and in 1945 he collaborated with Walt Disney to create the  stunning visual journey titled Destino.

I was lucky enough to live near the Salvador Dalí museum when I was growing up. I can’t recall how many times I visited the place just to gaze upon the surreal masterpieces, but I do remember the feeling of losing myself when staring into the fluid labyrinth of Dalí’s work. They consumed me…it was akin to falling in love. Every newly discovered line or shadow unraveled another mystery, which only furthered my exploration down the rabbit-hole. Throughout the years, I never lost that fiery love for Dalí’s surrealism; each time I see something he has created, my soul smiles.

Which is why I was ecstatic to discover Destino– a short animation Dalí started working on way back  in 1945! Dalí said the film would “offer to the world the first vision of ‘psychological relief’.”

Salvador Dalí and John Hench, a Disney artist, created the storyboard for the animation in 8 months, between 1945 and 1946. Unfortunately, production ceased shortly after due to the financial turmoil Walt Disney Studios was experiencing in the World War II era. Hench put together a 17-second clip of the progress they made, in hopes of rekindling Disney’s interest in the project. Rather than continuing, Disney placed the project on indefinite hiatus, saying it was “financially nonviable.”

54 years later, Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, unearthed the long lost footage while working on Fantasia 2000. Thankfully, he decided to bring the beautiful creation back to life- and implemented ways to finish it as well.

A collective group of 25 highly-skilled animators worked tirelessly to decipher Dalí’s and Hench’s cryptic storyboards- they even got a little help from the journals of Dalí’s wife, Gala Dalí. Together, along with Disney Studios France, the breathtaking animation was completed. The end result consists of mostly traditional animation, including Hench’s original 17-second footage, but there is also some minor computer animation.

Destino is a tragic love story. Chronos, the personification of time, falls in love with a mortal woman, who has also fallen in love with him. The two float across the surrealist landscapes of Dalí’s paintings, always just out of each other’s grasp. The animation is without dialogue, yet features a moving score by Mexican composer Armando Dominguez, performed by Dora Luz.

In regards to what the film conveyed, Dalí said, “a magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time,” and Disney called it “a simple story about a young girl in search of true love.” What a unique juxtaposition between the two creative geniuses.

Oh, the original 17 seconds of the film is the scene with the two tortoises. Enjoy!

More information on Destino can be found on the Disney Collector’s Editions Website.

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