5 Facts You May Not Know About Disney and Dali’s Lost Project ‘Destino’

In 2003, Disney Studios released “Destino,” a unique animated short film originally conceived by one unlikely pair—Walt Disney and famed Surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

Now, 15 years after its release, Park West Gallery is celebrating this “lost” project from two of the 20th century’s most iconic artists with a look at some lesser-known facts about its creation.

To get the inside scoop, we spoke with David Bossert, an artist and filmmaker with Walt Disney Studios for more than 30 years. Bossert has worked on many of the studio’s animated classics, including “Destino.” He also wrote “Dalí and Disney: Destino,” an innovative art book that recounts the history of the project that brought the two world-famous artists together.

Here are five things you may not know about “Destino”:


Dalí and Disney’s First Meeting is Legend

Salvador Dali Disney

Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney by the beach in Spain, 1957. Photo courtesy of TheDali.org.

Two of the most influential artists of the 20th century meeting for the first time sounds like the stuff of legends, and in this case it is one, literally.

There are no photographs or documentation to verify Dalí’s and Disney’s first meeting in 1944. Instead, Bossert says the story of their first encounter exists only as word-of-mouth history passed down through the ages and backed up by the recollection of John Hench, Dalí’s primary collaborator at Disney.

According to the story, Dalí and Disney originally met during a dinner party at the home of Jack Warner (of Warner Bros. fame) in August 1944. Dalí was Warner’s house guest while the artist worked on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound.”

“A lot of people look at that as an odd pairing, but they were very much alike as they were different,” Bossert says. “Dalí was actually a fan of Disney—he at one point felt Disney was the great American Surrealist.”


‘Destino’ Took Five Decades to Complete

Believe it or not, it took around 50 years to finish an animated film that is only six minutes and 40 seconds long.

Following their first meeting, Dalí and Disney came up with the idea of collaborating on the “Destino” short. Dalí began working on the film in 1946, creating 22 paintings and more than 135 storyboards, drawings, and sketches. Disney’s studio then generated about 20 seconds of original animation based on these ideas.

However, financial pressures caused by World War II and other commitments forced the studio to shelve “Destino” and it languished in the Disney vault for decades. In 1999, Roy E. Disney decided to finish the studio’s work on “Destino” while completing the production of “Fantasia 2000.”

Even though Dalí and Disney weren’t around to see it in person, their once-abandoned film was warmly received and even earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film when it was finally released in 2003.


The Same Disney Animator Worked on ‘Destino’ in the 1940s and the 1990s

To make “Destino” as authentic as possible when work resumed on the film in 1999, Disney Studios brought back one of its most influential artists to complete the short.

As mentioned above, John Hench was Dalí’s main collaborator during the original production in 1946. Hench worked for Disney for nearly 65 years and was respected by Walt Disney as one of the studio’s most gifted artists.

Hench was later recruited at the age of 90 to return to the animation studio and make the project he began decades ago a reality. As a result, Hench is credited as the film’s co-author alongside Dalí.


The Original Sound Quality Was Terrible

Disney Studios has a reputation for its catchy, well-written songs. So when the studio revisited “Destino,” it may surprise you that the studio was shocked at the dismal quality of the song at the center of the film.

The only audio featured in the short film is a Spanish ballad appropriately titled “Destino” written by Mexican songwriter Armando Domínguez. American lyricist Ray Gilbert translated the song into English as “My Destiny of Love” and this version was recorded in the 1940s.

In his book, Bossert recalls listening to the original recording of “My Destiny of Love” in 1998 and recoiling as he realized that it was “full of scratches, pops, and hisses.” However, thanks to technological advances, the studio was able to edit the original recording so well that they were able to use it in the final production.


Exclusive ‘Destino’ Art is Available to Collect

Anyone wanting to own a piece of this once-in-a-lifetime collaboration can now do so thanks to an exclusive partnership between Park West Gallery and Disney Studios Collectors Editions.

From 2004 to 2009, the two companies published limited edition artworks based on “Destino.” The collection includes etchings, lithographs, and seriographs of Dalí’s original art as well as key moments from the film. Reserved parts of these editions are signed by Roy E. Disney, the executive producer of “Destino.”

“I think what’s really interesting about the Destino art is that it brings together these two iconic 20th century artists—Salvador Dalí, the principal from the Surrealist movement, and Walt Disney, who really took animation to its own art form,” Bossert says.

The short film will be remembered as one of the most unique projects in Disney history and one of the most exciting artistic collaborations of the 20th century.

For information on how to collect “Destino” artwork, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or sales@parkwestgallery.com.

3 Responses to 5 Facts You May Not Know About Disney and Dali’s Lost Project ‘Destino’

  1. Jeffrey Tyler says:

    I was fortunate, as a Cast Member in Walt Disney World a couple years ago, to attend a gallery exhibit surrounding this film honoring the collaboration. It was at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL….. I even bought a DVD copy they were selling. Extraordinary exhibit!!! Excellent film!!

  2. Daniel GIll says:

    Back in 1997, i had the rare pleasure to see that little bit of animation that had languished so long in the Disney Vaults as part of an exclusive series at Walt Disney World. Up until that point, I was one of about 100 people in the world to have seen it. I’m so glad that it was finally finished.

  3. Heather says:

    I have a copy of this DVD and love the song and the art.

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