Hello Dali!


Russell Harty and Salvador Dalí, 1973.

This would have been a real find if the quality wasn’t so poor. Hello Dali! was a 50-minute documentary film about Salvador Dalí broadcast in the UK in 1973 as part of ITV’s Aquarius arts strand. The whole thing is on YouTube chopped into five parts and is unfortunately blighted by severe ghosting throughout. Apart from that it’s perfectly watchable.


Some conversations are subtitled so viewers are better able to make sense of Dalí’s English/Spanish/French dialect.

Brits who are old enough may remember Aquarius which was replaced in the late 70s by The South Bank Show, a programme using the same format of a short studio introduction followed by a self-contained film. In place of the SBS‘s Melvyn Bragg we have Humphrey Burton introducing a film directed by Bruce Gowers. Russell Harty is the front man, seen here in the days before he achieved greater fame as a gossipy chat-show host. I’d been wanting to see this for a long time, having lost a video tape of it years ago. I never saw the original broadcast but it was screened again after Dalí’s death in 1989, and I remembered it as being particularly good for showing a slightly more human side to the eccentric and occasionally annoying artist. So it is, giving us a brief portrait of Dalí in his 69th year, preoccupied at that time with the construction of his museum in Figueres. The nature of Harty and Gowers coup in getting the artist to allow a film crew into his home can be found in subsequent documentaries many of which use uncredited extracts from these interviews. It’s the brief moments of interview which make this even though they reveal little, it’s refreshing seeing Dalí talking conversationally rather than putting on a performance.


The early 70s saw the last flare of real interest in Dalí from the world at large. Dalí and Surrealism in general had a resurgence of popularity in the late 60s as a consequence of psychedelic culture: a number of books by or about the artist were published or reprinted, among them Peter Owen’s 1973 revival of the novel Hidden Faces which Dalí had written in 1944. About the same time Alejandro Jodorowsky was circling the Dalí camp trying to inveigle the artist into portraying the Emperor in his planned film adaptation of Dune. One detail worthy of note in the conversation with Russell Harty is mention of a golden toilet, something which Jodorowsky says Dalí wanted as his throne if he was going to be filmed. We never got to see Jodorowsky’s Dune but it’s good to find this documentary available once again. Here’s hoping a better copy turns up eventually.

Hello Dali! Pt 1 | Pt 2 | Pt 3 | Pt 4 | Pt 5

Previously on { feuilleton }
Dalí and the City
Dalí’s Elephant
Dalí in Wonderland
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
Dirty Dalí
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie revisited
Dalí and Film
Salvador Dalí’s apocalyptic happening
Dalí Atomicus
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie