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Gandahar is a utopian world of rare beauty and tranquility, the result of extensive mutation and genetic experimentation. But the perfect peace is shattered when a mysterious evil force invades this idyllic serenity, turning people into stone with petrifying rays. The Council of Women hold court and decide to send Sylvain, son of Queen Ambisextra, on a mission to destroy the enemy. Together with the beautiful and adventurous Arielle, the enemy that Sylvain eventually discovers very far from his home is the ultimate failure of Gandaharian scientific experimentation. It is a giant brain known as the Metamorphis, which has created an indestructible army of metal men to destroy Gandahar. Sylvain must battle the Metamorphis, but not until 1000 years in the future. Written by
French animator Rene Laloux of "Fantastic Planet" renown, attempted to make another surreal sci-fi adventure with the 80's "Ghandar" or as Isac Asimov and Harvey Wienstien decided to call it for those of us in the states "Light Years", which since no... space travel takes place, and since the movie is about a fictional country called "Gandahar" is probably a bad title. "Light Years" I guess sounds more sci-fi-ish, and if this film was to succeed in the states(it didn't) it was gonna need every bit of conventionality it could muster.
The story is a complex one involving the standard sci-fi tropes of eugenics, time travel, death, and utopia, and though it's certainly more involved than most animated sci-fi (a good deal of the time were watching the characters talk), it's really the visualization of the world and it's inhabitants which makes this movie worth seeing.
Like "Fantastic Planet" before it, Laloux's environments are some of the most alien that have ever been imagined. The landscape is often undulating Daliesuqe deserts, which strange trees which resemble simultaneously bodily organs and geysers, a young girl offering her breast to a new born who looks like a tapir, born out of a grown embryonic plant, a city of underground mutants who resemble Blemmyes, ancient African monsters with heads beneath their shoulders, an army hollow soldiers who turn people into statues, video camera like birds who can lift entire buildings in swarms, and of course a colossal mile wide sentient brain in the middle of the ocean.
Laloux uses sci-fi story structures to create, very evocative images that do not look like anyone else's, ever, something few filmmakers in any medium or genre, can claim with straight face.
That being said the English voice acting is just decent, not great but decent, it keeps the story moving, but doesn't draw you into any of the characters. "Light Years" like "Fantastic Planet" or the animated films of Svankmajer are more concerned with form than content, but not oblivious of the latter.
So if you like heady sci-fi, visually stunning design, and unique animation, this is not to be passed up. If not it's probably not bad to see once anyway, just for the visual treat of it all, and the more I mull over the story, not the plot, I'm more impressed with how well and vividly it told me a story I've heard a hundred times before.
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