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Produced by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, this documentary about the relentlessly eccentric Spanish painter benefits – as you would hope it would – from plentiful archive access and a scholarly level of appreciation. So on the one hand we get some utterly bizarre footage of Dalí explaining how he seduced his wife-to-be Gala with a paste made of goat excrement and fish glue (Gala nodding quizzically alongside); and on the other a tight little knot of Dalí connoisseurs discussing the artist with each other while studiously avoiding the camera. The latter certainly elevates the film, but also hampers it; it’s pretty dry stuff compared with the slick Exhibition on Screen films we have become used to in cinemas. Some awkward translations and some rough sound edits are also a little off-putting.
But, in aiming to go above and beyond the standard-issue profile, this film (directed by David Pujol) gets into some interesting areas. It focuses mostly on the buildings in Dalí’s life: the fisherman’s hut in the Catalan town of Port Lligat where he built his first studio, the villa he eventually transformed it into, the imposing castle in nearby Púbol he bought for Gala, and the gallery in Figueres where he spent his final months and where he is buried.
We get some sense of the mechanics of Dalí’s methods, such as the indoor winch he used for his large-scale paintings; while his decorative plans – through which he strove, as the title indicates, for a lasting impression – are still remarkable, comparable in effect to Gabriele d’Annuzio’s jawdropping villa at Garda in Italy. Dalí’s relationship with, and enduring respect for, Gala also comes up in sharp relief: a vital collaborator and inspiration, willing and able to give him the runaround.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Salvador Dalí: In Search of Immortality review – portrait of a gloriously eccentric artist | Film