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SALVADOR DALÍ’S DESTINO: Lost, Found and RESTORED to Dalí’s original intent
RESTORATION BY RON BARBAGALLO
THE PHOTOSTATIC SALVADOR DALÍ STORYBOARDS reveal Dalí had a much fuller narrative in mind for his short Destino.
Destino has six distinct sections that represent a very coherent beginning, middle and end.
The short starts out introducing the image of a man and a woman set upon a pyramid-shaped metronomes that feature a clock dial. It is a dark stage where the couple meet in profile against a nighttime landscape. Their encounter shifts quickly into a more ‘realistic’ setting - a party environment where the couple is set on an ascending spiral. This spiral metaphorically represents the growing interest these two have with each other. The idea of men and women, and in particular this man and this woman are represented by a series of male and female figures that represent different aspects of male and female. At first while standing on the spiral, the woman is seen sexualized while wearing a gown. The man is dressed in formal attire. He is seen as damaged. If you look closely, you will see an exploding champagne bottle bursts in his heart as his interest in her ignites. The woman at this party repeatedly presents herself to the man who literally becomes electrified by the very idea of her presence. He tries to pull her into his orbit. She recoils, ascends to the top of the spiral and retreats into a conch shell.
— End of the first sequence.
In the next section, the epic mindscape enlarges and we see a dream-like sky full of surreal images that include telephone handles, classic architectural elements, flying fish, gelatinous shapes, metronomes, eyeballs and a sky-catcher attempting to bring order to the chaos in the sky. After the fact that world is larger than this couple is established, the woman emerges
and transcends a staircase made of telephone handles. The landscape is here is made up of a cluster of buildings, not unlike those found in ancient Egypt. She lands at the base of the metronome where the man who has been pursuing her is attached. She presents herself to him again, this time as a figure in silhouette. He is so attracted to her presence that he attempts to pull himself off the architecture where he is mounted. She rises from the shadows and starts to dance. This dance represents is the first ballet sequence. It is significantly more conventional, and more Disney-like than the second Baseball ballet. During this first dance, the woman is represented by two visual hieroglyphs which will repeat heavily: her head represented as baseball shape, and she is also present a dandelion blossom.
— End of the second sequence.
As in life, ‘relationships’ based solely upon physical attractions frustrate, and the man ends up having to blow her a kiss goodbye (in the form of a dandelion blossom). He gazes into the palm of his hand after releasing her and this causes a new landscape to emerge. One reminding him of his biological clock, and one filed with tiny bicyclists steadily moving forward. In this sequence, the dance between the couple is less formal and soon the two are confronted by a barrier that arises between them. A barrier where doors and windows emerge to frustrate their union. [This is where the animatic film clip above starts]. The couple literally struggle to meet as windows and doors appear and close before them. This sequence also repeats and introduces a lot of symbolism mentioned above: the woman represented as a round ball (or baseball shape) and a dandelion blossom ballerina. Telephone handsets and ancient relics appear, and the tortoise shell couple (featured prominently later in the film) are introduced in this sequence.
— End of the third sequence.
Rejected and cast aside, the man is sent upon a journey through the relics. He is forlorn. The woman in this sequence is seen as a small dandelion blossom ballerina who follows the man as he navigates through a maze of relics in this mindscape desert. Soon an index figure anchored in the architecture falls and points his way. The man follows the finger into a cavern that features an array of clock dials, some big, some small, and some seen in varying degrees of consciousness. At the end of the clock-faced passage way is a U-shaped doorway. In this space, seemingly unrelated elements emerge and create a classic Greco-Roman head. The man is beckoned by the woman to join him on the other side of the opening. He jumps through this passage way where she is waiting.
— End of the fourth sequence.
On this other side, the Baseball Ballet starts and it is quick to introduce that this man and this woman are part of a much larger game, an actual baseball game. This ballet manages to be elegant and slightly comical or light. Dancing around this active baseball diamond are the tortoise shell couple. They’re back and seen in the background throughout the ballet. Overall, this ballet is grander than the first, full of symbolism and metaphor. It has many conflicting layers. It ends when the batter "scores" a “home run” and the ball impales the umpire, who turns into vapor.
[This is where the animatic film clip above ends].
— End of the fifth sequence.
This begins Dalí's grand finale for Destino, a place where all Dalí’s seemingly disconnected elements converge into one massive visual spiral of ballet-like images. It involves the tortoise shell of the tortoise shell couple, eyeballs, dandelion blossoms and the ever present telephone handles. The Busby Berkeley-like tunnel sequence is elaborate, llike love itself nearly hypnotic, and as the symbolic elements introduced in the short come together, they end up shattering as the tunnel ends and a series of architectural places emerge. The male figure emerges out of the center of this chaos, right in the center of the frame, and a heart (or possibly the sacred heart?) appears above him. His spirit seems to become one with the great architecture that rises around him. This sequence represents the 'climax' of the male figure’s journey from physical lust to emotional love. He is now able to open his heart to receive the woman he’s been pursuing. This is where the short ends.
— This is the end of the sixth and final sequence.
The Destino narrative, as seen in the Destino Animatic I created, is very coherent. Fluid and painterly. It fits Dalí’s description of the short he wanted to make and displays Dalí's willingness to apply his aesthetic to the Disney aesthetic of the early 1940s. The film was never meant to be peculiar, harsh or choppy — Conversely, it’s highly romantic. A grand ballet of imagery with a story that has a symmetrical before, middle and end. The work overall displays a respect for the optical 'art' of Herman Schultheis who would have worked at Disney from February 1939 to June 1940. In defense of the Walt Disney Studio, Dalí's version of this short could have easily have run 18 to 22 minutes in a fully produced version. It would have also cost a substantial amount of money to create due to the fact that everything in every frame animates and dissolves (and often at different rates of visibility). It would have also taken years to execute using the technology of the day, if it could have even been done using the techniques of the day.
part of the Lost and FOUND series from
THE RESEARCH LIBRARY AT ANIMATION ART CONSERVATION
This video clip is displayed in accord with the licensing agreement Disney granted to Ron Barbagallo at the request of Roy E. Disney.
READ MORE ABOUT THE DESTINO STORYBOARDS AND STORY SKETCHES DISCOVERY:
The 12 minute 12 second animatic for the restored version of Destino was presented to the world for the very first time as an artistic discovery in a classroom of art history students at Chapman University on December 1, 2015.
All images are © Disney Enterprises Inc.