Have you ever stopped to wonder how the personification of time would go about getting romantic with a flesh-and-blood human lady? For those of us who have, it’s usually hard to visualize exactly how this would all go down – but thankfully Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney already got together to think this through 71 years ago. That’s right, Spain’s surrealist iconoclast was actually close friends with the creator of Mickey Mouse, and after maintaining a warm friendship of mutual admiration for several years, the idea of a collab eventually surfaced.
The intended result of this unlikely meeting of the minds was Destino, an animated feature in the style of Fantasia that would dramatize a love story between Chronos (the personification of time) and an attractive Disney princess set against an unmistakable Daliesque landscape. Unfortunately for the history of global culture, the original project never reached fruition even after Dalí put in eight solid months working on paintings, storyboards, and sketches for the feature back in 1945.
But two generations later, Walt Disney’s own grandson Roy stumbled upon materials from the aborted project and realized that humankind had been robbed of one of the most important artistic collaborations of the 20th century – so he decided to do something about it. The result is the 2003 animated short Destino, directed by French animator Dominique Monféry.
Working off of Dalí’s 135 cryptic storyboards, 22 paintings, and an 18-second clip put together by Disney animator John Hench for the original project, Monféry perfectly wed Disney’s saccharine world of melodramatic fantasy with Dalí’s surrealist dreamscapes. The final product is a tale of impossible love told through surrealism’s ambiguous symbols of the unconscious. And while the six and a half-minute short features no dialogue, it is driven along by a Latin-inflected ballad composed by Mexico’s Armando Domínguez.
It’s only a brief taste of the ambitious feature project that never was, but it’s enough for us to get a sense of exactly where Dalí wanted to take postwar moviegoing audiences. And while his good homie Walt was more than willing to bring some experimental flair to his global entertainment juggernaut, the feature was ultimately jettisoned due to financial strains over at Walt Disney Studios. Check out the sequence from 5:02-5:20 for a look at the only surviving footage.