Surrealism in Animation: Disney’s Destino

I think that the textbook briefly mentions this short film in the Surrealism subsection, but I wanted to give Disney’s Destino a little bit more attention than that, because I believe that it is a true experimental masterpiece. The short film was originally a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, combining Dali’s surrealist imagery and paintings and making them move through. The project began in 1945, and if it had been released at the time, it would have been a revolutionary artistic experience, and an enormous player in the avant-garde film movement. However, because the company did not have the technology to make their exact vision come true, and because WW2 had taken a devastating toll on European and U.S. entertainment economies, the project was eventually put in the Disney Archives.

In the late 1990’s, the project was unearthed from the archives, and with the updated animation technologies at the time, was finally completed and released in 2003 at a few film festivals and on DVD. However, despite the film’s revolutionary techniques and artistic style, it has not been given the attention it may have received back in the 1940s. I think that a part of this is because most people associate Disney with their animated features, particularly princess films, that there really isn’t a market for experimental short films. However, I think that Destino is one of the most interesting pieces to come out of Walt Disney Studios in the early 21st century, and is worth a close, critical analysis as both a film and a piece of art.

In terms of plot, I don’t want to describe anything or give any of the imagery away, because it is worth watching, and is very open to interpretation. Some people see it as a social commentary, others view it as a tragic romance, but the cool thing about experimental films, just like Salvador Dali’s paintings, is that they do not have to fit a particular mold or moral code. It takes a little while to get into, because the tone of the film is very 1940s, but if you watch till the end, you might be confused, but it definitely gives you a lot to think about.

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