Miss Dalí – A greek tragedy in the Empordà

Salvador Dalí was one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century. A controversial character, who never failed to provoke a reaction, both because of his art and his brilliance. A multifaceted person, who witnessed and participated in the new artistic movements of the century, such as surrealism,
of which his work was most representative.
His life was marked by the influence of two women: his sister, Anna Maria, who was four years his junior, and Gala, who took control of the Empordanese genius’s life with such tenacity that she caused the two siblings to separate. In 1925, a newcomer entered the group: Federico García Lorca, who also became
an intimate friend of Anna Maria. Their quasiidyllic world, however, was violently broken apart in 1929 by a published text in which Dalí wrote: “Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother’s portrait”. His father disinherited him and cast him from the family home, while Anna Maria
disowned him. However, there is no doubt about Gala’s involvement in the
affair, who had recently arrived on the scene and was close to the siblings.
Their next meeting would be forty years later when Dalí, in hospital with burns
from a fire at his Castle in Púbol, threw her out of his room screaming “lesbian, lesbian!” A few months later, on 16 May 1989, Anna Maria died at her home in Cadaqués. Today, 28 years later, Ventura Pons, one of Catalan and Spanish cinema’s most prolific film directors is shooting a piece about the life of Anna Maria; and is doing so in the very places where she used to live, mostly
in Cadaqués and PortLligat. The film, which includes fictitious characters to weave the plot together, features a cast of internationally renowned Catalan and foreign actors, such as Sîan Phillips, who plays the role of Anna Maria,
Eulàlia Ballart, as the young Anna Maria, and Claire Bloom, who, at 86, has a nonhistorical role, that of a friend and confident of the sister.

Ventura Pons is clear about his reasons for making the film: “It’s a genuine Greek tragedy, shot in wonderful natural surroundings. It’s a bitter tale. Two free spirits, who love each other, and end up in a violent breakup, filled with hatred. It’s an almost unreal love story, but also one of resentment, squabbling, ambition and, above all, power, told by an exceptional witness, the ever-patient Anna Maria”. The tragedy has its roots in two books: “The secret life of Salvador Dalí”, written by the painter, and this book’s retort, written by Anna Maria to refute some of Dalí’s claims. “The sister’s response infuriated the painter. All that young love, mutual confidence and carefree eccentricities they enjoyed together were transformed into a visceral hatred.” At this point, Ventura vents his animosity towards one of the main characters: “Gala tears the siblings apart and become Dalí’s new muse. She was beastly, a nasty piece of work”, asserts Ventura Pons with obvious feeling.

Text: Fèlix Pujol