Destino (the Galician, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian word for "destiny") was storyboarded by Disney studio artist John Hench and artist Salvador Dalí for eight months in late 1945 and 1946; however production ceased not long after. The Walt Disney Company, then Walt Disney Studios, was plagued by many financial woes in the World War II era. Hench compiled a short animation test of about 17 seconds in the hopes of rekindling Disney's interest in the project, but the production was no longer deemed financially viable and put on indefinite hiatus.
In 1999, Walt Disney's nephew Roy E. Disney, while working on Fantasia 2000, unearthed the dormant project and decided to bring it back to life. Disney Studios France, the company's small Parisian production department, was brought on board to complete the project. The short was produced by Baker Bloodworth and directed by French animator Dominique Monfréy in his first directorial role. A team of approximately 25 animators deciphered Dalí and Hench's cryptic storyboards (with a little help from the journals of Dalí's wife Gala Dalí and guidance from Hench himself), and finished Destino's production. The end result is mostly traditional animation, including Hench's original footage, but it also contains some computer animation.
A naked Dahlia wanders towards a statue of Chronos in a desolate landscape where she dozes into a dream (relatively speaking). Her body swallows the statue as she dances in a nighttime setting while wearing a dress. As she attempts to kiss a stoic Chronos, he melts away leaving her "sad and lonely", but she perks up upon seeing a variety of unusual statues and dandelion seeds blowing in the wind which entice her to dance up the spire she is standing on. Upon reaching the top, strange green eyeball creatures (one which has a pointing finger sticking out of its eye) disrupt Dahlia's happiness when her dress is caught on the eyeball creature's hand. The dress rips off and she retreats into a sea shell that falls from the spire and lands in a satchel/flower full of green eyeballs that are being held by a statue situated on an opposing structure. Dahlia leaps from the shell just before it lands and she begins hopping upon floating telephones that are close to Chronos' statue.
Dahlia awakens from her dream and is surprised by a shadow of a bell tower. Realizing how perfect it looks, she stands in front of the shadow of the bell as if she were emulating a dress with it. She fuses with the shadow and happily dances in her new dress. When she throws her head up, it transforms into a dandelion complete with the seeds blowing in the wind. The Chronos statue begins moving forward as the bird on its chest breaks free and flies away. Dahlia continues to dance, oblivious to the current event, as the scene suddenly becomes dark and the clock situated next to Chronos begins to form a glowing liquid that tries to restrain the Chronos statue. Chronos succeeds in escaping the stone and he and the bird check his melted watch as ants suddenly come out of a hole in his hand and suddenly transform into mustachioed men on bicycles with bread on their heads.
Chronos, examining the landscape, spots a dandelion seed which floats away from him and transforms back into Dahlia. The lovers spot each other, but as Dahlia attempts to step towards Chronos, a large structure rises and separates them. Dahlia sends birds flying into the labyrinth to lead Chronos towards her and he finds an exit where she bows to him. As Chronos leaves the maze, he is suddenly adorned in baseball attire, but cannot find Dahlia anywhere, but instead sees two tortoises with stretched faces atop of them. They create a dancing woman whose head becomes a ball that Chronos fittingly hits with a baseball bat and lands in a catcher's mitt. The mitt transforms into a giant cloth heart that Chronos hugs into Dahlia, but quickly gets swallowed by his body where his heart is.
The final shot is of the Chronos statue with a hole where the bird used to be, but straight through to the other side is the bell tower that Dahlia admired implying that they have truly become one.
Now I can smile and say
My heart was sad and lonely
In knowing that you only
Could bring my love to me
This heart of mine is thrilled now
My empty arms are filled now
As they were meant to be
For you came along
Out of a dream I recall
Yes you came along
To answer my call
I know now
That you are my destino
We'll be as one for we know
Our destiny of love.
Destino premiered on June 2, 2003 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in Annecy, France. The short film was very well received; it won many awards and was nominated for the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Destino was released theatrically in a very limited release with the film Calendar Girls.
In 2005, the film was shown continuously as part of a major retrospective Dalí show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, titled The Dalí renaissance: new perspectives on his life and art after 1940.
The film was also shown as part of the exhibition Dalí & Film at Tate Modern from June to September 2007, as part of the Dalí exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from October 2007 to January 2008; at an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art called Dalí: Painting and Film from June to September 2008; and also at an exhibit at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2008. In mid-2009, it had exposure in Melbourne, Australia at the National Gallery of Victoria through the Dalí exhibition Liquid Desire, and from late 2009 through April 2010 at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio, in an exhibit entitled Dalí and Disney: The Art and Animation of Destino.
As of 2012, the film is featured in the "Dalí" exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France.
Home video release
The Disney DVD "True-Life Adventures, Volume 3" has a trailer for Destino, and mentions a forthcoming DVD release. In 2007, the True-Life Adventure series was suspended and those titles previously announced were moved to the Walt Disney Treasures line. Destino was subsequently scheduled for release on November 11, 2008.
- “Destino began in 1946 as a collaboration between Walt Disney and the famed surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. A first-hand example of Disney's interest in avant garde and experimental work in animation, Destino was to be awash with Dalí's iconic melting clocks, marching ants and floating eyeballs. However, Destino was not completed at that time. In 2003, it was rediscovered by Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, who took on the challenge of bringing the creation of these two great artists to fruition. In addition to the completed Destino, this exciting addition to the Walt Disney Treasures line also includes an all-new feature-length documentary that examines the surprising partnership between Dalí and Disney plus two new featurettes; "The Disney That Almost Was", an examination of the studio's unfinished projects; and "Encounters with Walt", which addresses the surprisingly diverse group of celebrities and artists who were attracted to Walt Disney's early work.”
- ―January 20, 2008 press release
A June 2008 press release for the Walt Disney Treasures line revealed Destino was being excluded from a 2008 Treasures release. According to Treasures host Leonard Maltin, the film was still likely to see an eventual DVD release, yet not necessarily within the Treasures moniker.
Destino was finally made available as a special feature on the Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 Special Edition Blu-ray, released on November 30, 2010. A standalone DVD of the short and documentary was also made available as an exclusive item for sale at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In 2010, Disney Italy published a comic story titled "Topolino e il surreale viaggio nel destino" ("Mickey Mouse and the surreal travel into destiny"), which narrates, in a metafictional way, how Destino was created: in the comic, Walt Disney himself, along with Mickey, Donald and Goofy, meet and greet Salvador Dalì, eager to work with him. For a series of events, the three toons fall inside the paintings of the surreal artist, and must journey through this oniric world in order to exit. Meanwhile, Walt and Salvador follow their adventures through the everchanging papers and this gives them the idea to realize Destino. The story was localized into English as "The Persistence of Mickey" and was featured in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #734 in 2016.
- The short makes numerous references to the works of Dalí including, but not limited to:
- The Persistence of Memory: Dalí's most famous work; numerous melting clocks are seen spread throughout the short.
- Memory and The Great Masturbator: The scene depicting ants.
- The Elephants and Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening: various long legged creatures are seen in multiple background shots.
- The Burning Giraffe: Tall structures that have a vague humanoid appearance.
- Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach and Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire: Throughout the short there are various illusions of faces seen made out of different structures.
- The Enigma of Hitler: Giant telephones.
- Spider Of The Evening: Stretched human skin.
- A majority of his paintings take place in a desert landscape, much like the short.
- The character of Dahlia is clearly a name reference to Dalí himself and arguably, the character can be seen as a female avatar for the artist.
- Chronos, named after the Greek character of the same name, is also a reference to Dalí's own fascination with Greek mythology such as Galatea, Narcissus and Venus, the former two having been adapted in Hercules the Series.
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