Animated Short of the Week – Destino
Dir. Dominique Monfery
Ah, Destino. This is of course the infamous Salvador Dali/Walt Disney partnership that was originally supposed to place itself in a sequel to Fantasia by Disney himself that never saw the light of day (and one that was covered generously in the eventual sequel Fantasia 2000, a still fantastic film in its own right.) It is a surrealistic baseball parable conceived by Dali with all of his usual flourishes and stock images, a veritable overview of his entire oeuvre. I knew of these sketches and pieces for sometime, even before Fantasia 2000 came out, and had fawned over them for years and years, feeling like it could be one of those great lost unfinished films.
But alas, it was announced earlier this decade that a Disney team was working on this film again from the ground up, using new technology of course, but retaining the sensibility Dali conveyed in his sketches. This of course occurred in a rare period of genuine inspiration from the Disney team, what with surprising and confounding gems like The Emeperor’s New Groove and Lilo & Stitch (yes, I do in fact enjoy these films…). A period that was of course short-lived, one that could only exist during a time of turmoil for the realm of hand-drawn animation, one that was effectively destroyed by later dreck such as Home on the Range. However, even then I had my doubts about Destino, thinking it was a nice touch, but seemed unlikely to provoke any real response.
Needless to say, that sentiment was deeply and thankfully unreasonable. (I had the great fortune of seeing this film as a prelude to The Triplets of Belleville in theaters, and frankly, is quite a contender for the greatest day I’ve ever spent at a movie theater.) Destino is a different beast altogether for Disney, one that actually harkens back the experiments Walt himself held so dear to his heart, on which his company was founded upon. It is poetic and dream-like, but what I never would have guessed from this film is the synthesis at which these two styles blend together. Destino has the clear look of an early 2000s Disney film in its character animation and blend of hand-drawn with subtle computer aided movements, but really feels like a Dali painting coming to life, not some vague approximation of such. The score is of particular note as well, alternately creepy and melancholy; it really gels the whole thing together. As exciting as it would have been to have seen their original collaboration, this is a treatment I am proud to say lives up to the legend. And I’m even prouder to say that it holds up just as well as when I first viewed it, even on a computer screen (though not necessarily the most desirable outlet).
It should be noted that Destino has had a rough time finding its way to DVD. It was announced in 2008 that Disney was including it as a stand-alone release in their wonderful “Treasures” line. It was promptly taken off the release schedule. Why it was is unclear still, but apparently there is still speculation that it will see the light of day again in 2010, along with a lengthy documentary on the history of the project. Quite a bit of effort for the 6 minute film, but with a rich history like this one, I’m positive it will be quite a treat. In the meantime, here’s Destino, in surprisingly high quality Youtube feed. Watch it now before Disney finds out. Enjoy.