Thursday, January 9, 2014

Destino: Unconventional Disney



I'm surprised I haven't made any mention of the short film Destino (1946-2003) here before.  If you're not familiar, Destino was a short film originally begun between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, and because of different reasons from budget to Dali's crazy imagination, it never saw itself developed to any more than a few seconds of footage.  The incredible designs made by Dali for the project were later rediscovered by Roy Disney and it was decided to finish the short.  I've spent many a time trying to convince people of its worth.  It certainly must be appreciated, for some people, including Disney itself seem to have trouble grasping the fact that this beautiful, surreal work of animated art was birthed in their studios. Disney apparently, at first, did not know what to do with this odd-one-out of a short film. The marketablility of Dali in today's culture brings vast sums of money, as can be seen with any major Dali exhibit of the past decade-or-so. This marketing prospect should appeal especially to Disney, since they seem to be the king-pins of mass marketing. Destino was put on the Blu-ray of Fantasia 2000, which was packaged with Fantasia.  This seemed like the logical step, since Destino was originally intended for release in a musical package film akin to Fantasia.  Also, quite fortunately, we were given a splendid documentary on the making of the film, one which is a real pleasure to watch.  However, the home video release didn't get much press, neither did the film when it was circulating thears and festivals, winning numerous awards. Nothing seems to be able to convince Disney now that Destino (and films of its kind) are worth making more of. 
Speaking of Dali's friendship with Disney, it was certainly considered odd at the time, as well as today. But they were both artists and they knew what they wanted. Reacting to the criticism of the collaboration, Walt Disney said that "the thing I hate most is people trying to keep me in well worn grooves." The Disney of today has certainly worn those grooves to the ground. Walt Disney never wanted to limit the kind of films he made, if one watches the old animated or live action films produced during his lifetime one will see their accessibility to any generation or age grouping. Certainly the Disney films made today are enjoyed by many, but they do not push the envelope in terms of story and material as Walt did during his life. The Disney of today should not be afraid to follow suit, as they seem to be, for I do not see any sign of real proactivity of the kind exemplified by Destino
If there are to be more shorts, or even a feature film, akin in nature to Destino then there must be shown to the Disney company an interest in these kind of productions that really further the art of animation in America beyond something to be shelved as "kid's entertainment".  The way animation has been treated in many countries indicates a kind of unwillingness to elevate it completely alongside live action.  Certain attempts to make it "adult", like Heavy Metal (1980), fall flat on their faces because, in such a fervor to not be considered kiddy fare, they push the sex and violence to a point where it becomes juvenile.  I feel like this is why there are so few animated films that progress beyond the family market and actually do well in the theaters.  This is one of my great passions, to see animation properly appreciated, and perhaps, someday, I will have the chance to help accomplish that. 

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