Did you know that Disney briefly employed the world’s most famous surrealist?
Salvador Dalí was approached by Walt Disney himself in 1945 to propose a collaborative film. Entitled Destino, the picture would be based upon a Mexican folk song of the same name, with the music played to accompany a sequence of Dalí-designed animation. The overjoyed surrealist enthusiastically agreed and quickly began sketching storyboards.
Disney’s sudden turn to surrealism was an attempt to silence several of his critics who felt that his films all too often sacrificed genuine artistry at the altar of marketability—favoring tradition and safety over innovation and experimentation. The evocative Fantasia, released in 1940, had been a groundbreaking first step on this front, and the animator now hoped that Destino would keep this newfound momentum going.
But alas, the project never came to be; Disney pulled the plug on the film after its third month of production. Though the two would remain lifelong friends, nothing remains of their short-lived joint venture but a 15-second demo reel and a handful of rudimentary sketches.
However, some 54 years later, the development of Fantasia’s long-awaited sequel, Fantasia 2000, inspired Disney’s nephew, Roy, to finally revive the project. A team of French animators were brought onboard to produce the six-minute film on the basis of Dalí's notes and storyboards. In 2003, his musical vision was released at long last. You can watch the results of their efforts below.
A version of this story ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2022.