The life of the great Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali is finally to make it to the silver screen, starring Alan Cumming, and Judy Davis as the artist’s great love, Gala, and all shot in 3D. Philippe Mora, the film’s writer-director, said that he considered Dali’s life story to be just as incredible as his art.The film, currently titled Dali 3D, begins with the artist semi-conscious in a hospital, where he overhears a doctor suggesting his life would make a great movie and it takes off from there.“I want this to be the film that Dali would have wanted you to see,” said Mora. “True to his outrageous sense of humor, it will be simultaneously a surreal parody of what the artist would have wanted you to experience, a kind of crazed, artistic Inspector Clouseau. With his muse and wife Gala in the mix, it’s an extraordinary love story.”The film is expected to be shot in the summer, in Spain, the UK, the US and Australia.
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The life of the great Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali is finally to make it to the silver screen, starring Alan Cumming, Scotland's Tony award-winning bisexual wild boy, and Judy Davis as the artist's great love, Gala, and all shot in 3D.Written and directed by the Los Angeles-based Australian director Philippe Mora, the German-Australian co-production is expected to begin shooting in Cologne in June and will move to locations in New York, London, Barcelona and the Mornington Peninsula, which will serve for parts of the Catalan coast.The $US15 million project - between Aquafilm/Peter Kreutz in Cologne and Column Pictures in Sydney - has stirred interest from Russian, US and British distributors. Interest has also come from 3D cinema owners, who complain that despite their investment in specialist projection and screens, most 3D movies are still aimed at the children's market.Advertisement: Story continues belowSpeaking to the Herald from Los Angeles, Mora said 70 per cent of the film's funding had come from Europe, a sign of how difficult it had become for independent ''non-formulaic'' movies to be taken on by Hollywood.''Every second movie made in the United States is based on a comic book hero who speaks in single syllables … It's a battle to get anything done with interesting content,'' Mora said.''Dali's story is just so original or left of field for Hollywood.''The screenplay unfolds not as a linear narrative but as a series of dream-like, fantasy sequences intersected with reality, and is profoundly evocative of Dali's art. The story - not a bio-pic but without doubt a life story - begins with the painter in a hospital bed, recovering from near-fatal injuries after a house fire.A semi-conscious Dali overhears a doctor suggesting what an extraordinary movie his life would make and so his mind - and the film - begins to soar, occasionally breaking the so-called ''fourth wall'' when the artist converses directly with his audience.Mora said Dali's life story was as incredible as his art: ''I want this to be the film that Dali would have wanted you to see … True to his outrageous sense of humour, it will be simultaneously a surreal parody of what the artist would have wanted you to experience, a kind of crazed, artistic Inspector Clouseau. With his muse and wife Gala in the mix, it's an extraordinary love story.''Dali adored movies and, with Luis Bunuel, made two surrealist masterpieces, Le Chien Andalou (1928) and L'âˆge d'or (1930). Even today, these films shock jaded audiences. Presciently obsessed with 3D films, he painted a series of paintings requiring 3D glasses.Chronicled in the film are his friendships with his mentor, Picasso, and the poet Lorca, his bisexuality and obsession with Gala. He was also infatuated with the controversial singer and performer Amanda Lear, whose mysterious mix of masculinity and womanly beauty has intrigued Europe for decades.Dali's work with Bunuel enters the story as do his meetings with the Hollywood heavyweights Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and Harpo Marx and the young Andy Warhol, who followed the older artist almost like a groupie.Mora said Dali was an important figure not just in the history of modern art but in Western popular culture, embodying, perhaps ironically, attitudes to money and consumerism that would emerge and define an entire generation of artists much later.''He was very important in 20th-century art history; people like [Tracey] Emin, Damien Hirst - so many of them are all treading in his footsteps … They're brazenly OK about making money, not embarrassed about earning. Of course you can evaluate those attitudes how you want to, but it was a very interesting change and in terms of art history, very important.''I thought it would be interesting also to make a happy movie about art. Usually you have to die of alcoholism or cut your ear off in these stories. But Dali said it was OK to be successful. He made surrealism mainstream in the US. He made an advertisement for Alka Seltzer, for car companies and became a character on TV … The artistic community dismissed him because he was not starving.''In fact, surrealism, as the author J. G. Ballard observed in a piece for The Guardian in 2007, remained beyond the ''critical pale'' until well into the 1960s although most of the greats - from Magritte to Max Ernst and Paul Delvaux - were accepted in their later years by the ''bowler hatted bureaucrats of British art'' who loaded them with honours, prizes and ''worst of all, respectability''.Dali, Ballard noted, was the great exception, ''and never saw a bowler doffed in his direction''.Yet surrealism now attracts big crowds, whether it be the Tate and Victoria and Albert in London or big galleries in the US or Australia. The Dali exhibition in Melbourne in 2009 broke records, with 300,000 visitors.''It's as if people realise that reason and rationality no longer provide an adequate explanation for the world we live in,'' Ballard observed.''The lights may still be on, but a new Dark Age is drawing us towards its shadows, and we turn to the surrealists as our best guides to the underworld.''