Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Late entry: Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Ian Covell on DESTINO

Ian Covell is a British bibliographer and reviewer, and works with Locus magazine and others:

There are some Disney films that will never be rereleased at all, others
that will only be released in cut form, and still others that are only
sneaked out inside something which seems designed to hide them in plain

At the end of 2010, Disney issued a 4-disk Blu-Ray set of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 - the two films, plus huge amounts of background material,
plus another lengthy documentary about a short film...and at the bottom
of that, the short film itself. One that won the Academy Award, one that
took 56 years to complete, one that is the outcome of a collaboration
between Walt Disney himself and one of the most unmistakable artists of the
20th century.

The film is Destino, the artist was Salvador Dali, and the chances are, that you have never heard of it. From the opening scene - a range of mountains which births a naked woman who walks forward, closes her eyes, and dreams...everything is Dali, ants, eyes, birds, clocks, the melting, the changing, the metamorphoses that are in process in his paintings, and which here
complete their changes, and change again, and again. The viewpoint circles,
swirls, swings, the rare moments of stillness come as surprises, and then
are usually the signs of another dark tone being added to the narrative.

The narrative--storyboarded by Dali and Disney artist John Hench in 1945--
is, as is most Dali, about desire, and love thwarted. Time (as in a
memorable scene of the desert sands of time draining away) in the end leaves
just an empty hand reaching out for emptiness.

One discordant note is a baseball scene, though this was in fact the only
part of the movie originally animated in the 1940s, and was certainly
agreed by Dali.

Finally made by Disney France in 2002 (the flowing beauty of the Disney's
Tarzan seems to have been made by the same team), the questions are, would
Dali have liked it, damn right; would Disney have liked it, who can be sure;
would you like it, oh, yes.

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