Film: Daliland



Salvador Dali was one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century but Mary Harron’s Daliland fails to give any insights into this multi-talented genius.

Dali’s world is seen through the eyes of James Linton (Christopher Briney), a young man with angelic good looks who worked for a few short months in the early 1970s as Dali’s assistant.

This is not a film for someone who wants to learn something about Dali the great surrealist, the film maker, the sculptor, the performer.

It’s a lavish portrayal of an ageing artist, well past his prime, living a hedonistic life, with little sign of any creative activity at all.

Mary Harron is an accomplished director (I Shot Andy Warhol, and American Psycho) but Daliland suffers from being told from James Linton’s perspective, when Linton is the least interesting character in a film which seems to lack purpose.

He first meets the famous surrealist in the early 1970s, when he is working at a New York art gallery which has a forthcoming exhibition of Dali’s work.

His boss sends him to deliver a package to the St Regis Hotel, where the artist has spent his winters for the past 40 years.

Dali (Ben Kingsley), who surrounds himself with beautiful people, takes an immediate liking to Linton and hires him as his assistant, calling him San Sebastian.

Linton’s boss tells him: “You are going to keep an eye on him and make sure he paints.”

Dali has to produce enough paintings to fill the exhibition in three weeks’ time – but his life seems to be a non-stop extravaganza of cocktails, caviar and celebrations.

It was if I had landed on another planet,” Linton said later.

Dali’s wife and muse Gala (Barbara Sukowa), who is also his business manager, tries in vain to keep him on track.

Ben Kingsley, best known for his starring role as Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982), is excellent as the irrepressible Dali and Sukowa does a fine job as the mercurial Gala but the film is most memorable for its elaborate costumes and scenes of bacchanalian revelry.

Daliland is showing at Luna Leederville.

Watch the trailer…


2 thoughts on “Film: Daliland

  1. Thanks Margot for confirming my feelings about this film i.e. not enough about Dali the creative genius and too much about the look and the costumes. I’d been tempted to see it, especially as having recently enjoyed an exhibition of amazing Dali artworks, mostly sculptures, while in SA and visiting the must see Cube House @ d’Arenburg winery in McLaren Vale. The surrealist exhibition and sale features 25 authentic Salvador Dali bronze sculptures and graphic artworks. It has wow factor.

    1. Thanks Brendon for your comments. Yes, a pity that the film features the creative genius only in his declining years. The Cube House exhibition sounds great — well worth a trip to South Australia!

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