Dali’s Greatest Secret & Miracle of Fatima

 DATELINE: Uninspired Dali?

Humdrum Dali Humdrum Dali?

If you have never heard of the Blue Army, you are not alone though it purportedly had 80 million followers at its peak. It was an organization tied to the Vatican by a couple of 1950s personalities who wanted to make sure the vision of hell as seen by 3 children in 1917 frightened people to convert to Catholicism.

The Paul Perry documentary Dali’s Greatest Secret may be hyperbole.

The miracle at Fatima was about small Portuguese children who witnessed an orb in the sky in the form of a woman who claimed to be Our Lady, mother of Christ. She terrified the children with visions and even appeared to thousands of hysterical people during her multiple visits to Fatima.

One child survived into adulthood, sworn to silence in a religious order: Lucia (called Lucy-ah throughout this documentary) kept a third secret that the Vatican withheld for a long time. Scaring children with visions of hell is not a nice thing to do, even in a good cause.

The Blue Army decided to commission the only man capable of depicting the children’s “Vision of Hell.” Atheist Salvadore Dali was given $15,000 to pain the image to help bolster the Blue Army numbers. It was meant to frighten the hippie generation into turning to God and Catholicism, over free love and communism.

Dali tried repeatedly to do something but could not. He needed to meet Lucia, but she at first refused. After a few years, she gave him 15 minutes that seemed to revive his inspiration. He actually converted back to Catholicism to do his painting with escargot forks.

Dali returned the money he was paid to priests associated with Fatima, but never showed anyone his final image of hell. Not his official photographer and executor of his estate, not to his last long-time mistress (both interviewed and showed the image on camera). It was largely unimpressive to them.

Even the Blue Army never saw the work in progress. A few experts claim it was too personal for public consumption for the surrealist who never shied away from tooting his horn.

What are we to make of the ultimate work? Perhaps that too is personal and may hinge on your attitude to Dali’s far-out notions. Perhaps he knew in his heart that it was one of his most inferior works.

 

 

 

Hello Dali!

DATELINE:  Little Ashes.

dali & lorca  Sur-Real Dali & Lorca!

No one can say Robert Pattinson is not a courageous actor. His 2009 performance in Little Ashes as Salvatore Dali in his youth was gutsy and properly over-the-top.

A lesser actor might have underplayed Dali’s growth as a non-conformist, but Pattinson has never flinched from wide-eyed brazen acting. He has particularly liked escaping the awful roots of vampires by giving portraits of notable famous people in docudrama.

Of course, this film is not just about Dali’s genesis. It deals with Luis Bunuel and Frederico Garcia Lorca. Javier Beltran is nearly a spitting image of the real Lorca, as cast by director Paul Morrison.

It is hard to believe they were all college frat chums, life-of-party types, and budding genius artists. Javier Beltran plays Lorca who was a well-known gay poet and playwright. You might say Dali and Lorca had some kind of gay love affair, but that would not be exactly correct. These artists lived on another planet.

Indeed, the approach/avoidance of Dali and his self-centeredness drives a wedge between them. Id his own insane style, Dali likely  was in love with Lorca, but his “divine” madness rent it apart.

Bunuel and Dali ridiculed Lorca with the film called Andalusian Dog, which also was a wedge of straights against gay. They also dismissed politics for artistic expression. By 1930 they were rich, and Lorca was doomed to be repressed and murdered by Franco  thugs in Spain.

The ultimate madness of Dali upon hearing of Lorca’s death is muted by the fact that he was already around the bend. This is a most unusual movie.

 

 

 

 

Jodorowsky’s Dune Beats Lynch’s Dune

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 jodorowsky's dune

We can think of a couple of great movies that never made it to post-production: I, Claudius with Charles Laughton as the Roman Emperor, and Dune, the Jodorowsky version. Both were made later in an era better able to handle the themes and technical aspects.

Years before David Lynch made an abysmal version of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Alejandro Jodorowsky—one of the great experimental filmmakers and artists—put together pre-production for an original epic. Now comes the documentary telling how it failed to be filmed in Jodorowsky’s Dune.

Studios wouldn’t accept the director: he was a gaucho warrior from South America—and he’d likely be out of control. His previous two movies were staggering achievements outside the system. 

Now nearly 40 years after his greatest film project was denied him, he and his producer Michel Seydoux put together a documentary to tell the tale.

Jodorowsky’s film and artistic team would have blown away audiences—or chased them away. His ideas then went into dozens of 1980s movies from Alien up to Prometheus, from Flash Gordon to Star Wars. What could not be done with special effects in the 1970s was possible a few years later.

Jodorowsky had seduced great minds to join him in his endeavor. Orson Welles, Salvatore Dali, David Carradine, and Mick Jagger, were the cast.

Like a cult leader, Jodorowsky could charm everyone—and even as an old man, you can see his energy, his integrity, and his style, in this film about the unmaking of Dune.

What a crime it is for the true visionary to be refused the union card for Hollywood, but the great filmmaker could rise above it—and even took pleasure in the Lynch’s inability to translate Herbert.

Those who love movies and great art on film owe themselves a chance to see this intriguing story of what might have been.