Thursday, September 22, 2011

La Planète Sauvage or The Fantastic Planet

The Fantastic Planet
or Something you should not see before you head to sleep

"The Fantastic Planet" is a animated feature film created in 1973 by Rene Laloux under the french title of "La Planète Sauvage", The Wild/Savage Planet.
Its base material is "Oms en série" (Oms by the Dozen) a science fiction novel by Stephan Wul, a dentist turned writer. Planet.
I found this movie through a podcast I regularly listen to. The hosts were referencing the "aliens" and how trippy of a film it was so I just had to try and see it.
People were not wrong to readily accept this as trippy but a full blown mind trip. With its strong imagery and ridiculous but oddly funky and menacing music just added to the fire transported you to setting. To put it into better perspective during its theatrical release it was often paired up with the cult classic "The Yellow Submarine" as a double feature. If that doesn't say anything I dunno what will.
The basic story is as followed. On a alien planet there is a race of giant aliens called the Draag who are extremely technologically advanced and have achieved great bounds in spiritual and mental progression. The Draags keep Om who are implied to be humans that were taken from their home planet. Oms are kept as domesticated pets and at worst are exterminated as pests.
The movie follows the story of one Om named Terr. Terr was raised by a Draag
child from infancy and learns
the technological ways of the Draags and escapes from his masters to a tribe of wild Oms. Using the knowledge he has learned he educa
tes the Oms and stirs them into rebellion.
The strongest points of the movie are the imagery and music. Settings are fantastic, capturing the feel of a lone and almost uninhabitable planet with fantastic creatures. In terms of character design the Draags are disturbing with their bald blue skin bodies and red eyes adding to their almost passive and detached nature. The Oms even are disturbing in a way, almost doll like with fierce or soft facial features creating an almost dis-concerning look to them, perhaps emphasizing the alien nature of the film.
The music can be only described as 70s. A mix of mystical and electronic they heavily use synth and ambiance to give a great soundtrack. When tension runs high or times of silence it emphasizes upon the moment.
A great scene to reference is in the beginning of the movie. A woman is running through an alien "forest" with a child but is soon assaulted by large blue hands. She keeps trying to run but is continuously buffets until letting go of the child she is lifted into the air and
dropped, killing her. In which the camera pans out
and you find out it was a group of Draag children "playing" and the woman they killed was Terrs mother. A disturbing and surreal scene it sets the mood and aesthetic of the film.
Though with its strengths it has its great weaknesses in terms of pacing and voice acting. There are times in the movie where it is focused upon a scene of Terr dragging something and it lasting for a minute more then needed. Sure it works at times of tension and action but these drawn out scenes are a little too much at times. The voice acting can be hit and miss at times as most characters seem to show little emotions and often carried by the actual visuals. The sole exception is that the Draags for being so detached fits the voice acting and at times do show more emotion then their Om counterparts.
Also on a side note the animation though choppy at times I feel fits the aesthetics and pace of the film keeping it as something neutral.
In all this is great to watch almost as an art film. Story can be flimsy at times but shows strong underlines throughout the movie. You can say it is a good slice into foreign and animation history and show cases different genres in terms of spiritualism and surrealism. It definitively can be a hard watch at times but definitely worth it. The entire movie can be seen on youtube on this link:

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