Salvador Dalí’s obscure psychedelic film, “Impressions de la Haute Mongolie – Hommage á Raymond Roussel” (1976)


Salvador Dalí’s romance with film and the visual arts is a relatively well-known chapter in the life of the original and controversial Spanish (Catalan) artist (1904-1989). His collaboration with Luis Buñuel in the writing of Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age D’Or (1930) has been extensively examined and documented. However, his explorations of video art with the production of the “documentary” Impressions de la haute Mongolie. Hommage a Raymond Roussel (1974-75) remain an episode of his long and successful creative career only acknowledged by the specialist. The fact that the video production has not been commercialized by, more or less, vague reasons related to copyright disputes did not help to make this innovative work better known. The “videografía”, written in collaboration with its director José Montes Baquer and produced with Sony-Cologne and WDR, narrates the exploration of Dalí to the remote land of Mongolia in search of the Great White Mushroom. Salvador Dalí, a consummate expert in media manipulation, invites the spectator to become his accomplice and partner in what it seems a drug-induced “trip” to a faraway and distant land where wonderful treasures are hidden. By means of advanced technology in film and the visual arts of the time (video, electronics, macro photography), Dalí strives to reveal optically the metamorphoses of matter with the purpose of revealing a new artistic reality. The journey –inspired by the psychedelic aesthetic of the seventies and narrated by Dalí in Catalan, with French subtitles that roughly translates his words– will offer the possibility of exploring the cosmos through the observation of a small metal piece magically transformed by Dalí’s secret techniques. The adventure concludes in a Catalan town where the crowd participates in a public ceremony of communal painting (a true “happening”) conducted and directed by Dalí. The multitude will worship him as a king (or so he intends) who does not shy away from acting as a clown.

The homage that Dalí pays to himself in the film is made extensive to the figure of his beloved Raymond Roussel (1877-1933), the author of Locus Solus (1914) and Nouvelle Impressions d’Afrique (1932) whose homonymic puns where so celebrated by the Surrealists, and are the base for Dali’s explorations of the double-image and the macro/micro reality on which his own impressions are based.