Release Date: August 5th, 2003 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Dominique Monfery Actors: Jennifer Esposito, Dora Luz
n 1946, two legendary artists, Salvador Dali and Walt E. Disney, began collaboration on a short film, which took more than half a century to complete. Disney artist John Hench helped write the story, but due to financial hardships in the ‘40s, the production was dropped. Since the abandoned project only ever existed as storyboards, concepts, and (in the hopes of rekindling interest later on) 17 seconds of test animation, Walt himself doesn’t even receive actual credits on the release, which was reinitiated by Roy Disney after producing “Fantasia 2000.” In the end, although the design screams of Dali’s works, the legendary “Destino” was directed by Dominique Monfery (with credits for the story by Dali and animator Hench). Visual development artists Cent Alantar and Zoltan Maros also contributed heavily to the final product, while Mexican composer Armando Dominguez created the theme song.
Involving Chronos and his love of a mortal female, the piece begins with a woman emerging from the mountainside to view a pyramid-like sculpture with a man and a clock embedded in it. The hands of the clock turn to wax and melt away and she’s unable to unite with her love. Desperately, she journeys up an immense, spiraling structure adorned with metallic statues and all sorts of mutated oddities. A garden of eyeballs with long lashes and arms emerging from the midst can also be seen. The woman sheds her flowing garment and crawls into a seashell, where she is transported to further locations and undergoes multiple transformations.
Telephones, shadows, silhouettes, dandelions, ants, marbled surfaces with cracks and imperfections, and hourglass-sand landscapes hide smoky forms that symbolically morph from one creature to the next. The woman is continually thwarted from reaching her love as if they’re in two different worlds and trying unsuccessfully to break the boundaries of each realm. In each other’s domain, they’re stuck in metamorphosing sculptures. Many of Dali’s paintings find their way into the work, stressing the themes of time and identity. The largely unrelated idea of baseball is even used as a metaphor for life (part of the original 17 second test animation and one of the only segments that doesn’t blend well with Dali’s vision).
Naturally, it’s surrealistic and brimming with visual freakishness and the story is difficult to comprehend and follow. “Destino” isn’t too far removed from an animated version of “Un Chien Andalou,” Luis Bunuel’s 1929 teaming with the French painter. The use of dated computer animation techniques unfortunately doesn’t mix well with the other, more appealing artistic elements, but the overall effect of the 7-minute film is pleasing in its authenticity to the original vision. Disney and Dali are two artists whose work really doesn’t go together, however, and resultantly their collaboration doesn’t quite cohere, with Dali’s out-of-this-world surrealism overtaking anything Disney could contribute (outside of the animation itself). Nonetheless, in 2003, the cartoon was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short and was noted by many film critic organizations as a long-awaited, iconic achievement.
– Mike Massie