Thursday, November 26, 2015

Disney, Dali, and Baseball

Iconic surrealist Salvador Dali had a fascination with baseball. "About the game, I know nothing," said the Catalan painter. "But as an artist, I am obsessed." Few realize that this obsession was to manifest itself in a short film that Walt Disney asked Dali to create in collaboration with Disney's unparalleled stable of illustrators and animators. Dali was to provide the story line and original artwork, while the folks at Disney, most specifically artists John Hench and Bob Cormack, would mold the concept into a full-fledged, animated short. The film was to be called "Destino," the title of a Mexican ballad written by Ray Gilbert and Armando Dominguez that served both as an inspiration for the work, as well as its soundtrack.

The project began soon after the end of World War II. Despite a flurry of activity during the nine months in which the project was embraced by both Disney and Dali, by mid-1946 the film was shelved, most likely due to financial concerns. And while Dali and a number of Disney artists created dozens of works of art, only a very short sequence of the film was completed. The rest of the concept remained within the head of the genius Dali and upon a number of Disney storyboards.

Fast forward to 2000, when Walt's nephew Roy Disney ran across numerous priceless Dali paintings in the Disney archives, the remnants of the "Destino" project. He also ran across the contract for the failed film which stipulated that the artwork could only become the property of the Disney Studios if the project was completed. This potential financial windfall put the project back on the front burner, over half a century after it had been abandoned.

Released in 2003, "Destino" earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film, but ultimately the film failed to garner much attention. A few years ago, my friend Mary Quinn alerted me to the haunting film and its brief, but vivid flirtation with baseball. I encourage you to turn down the lights, turn up the volume, and enjoy "Destino" here.

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