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'Light Years' is a work of sci-fi animation that really stands apart from the pack. In order to enjoy this film, one must have an appreciation of science fiction altogether. For those individuals such as Leonard Maltin, whom dismissed this movie as a pretentious 'talky' cartoon, you must understand that 'Light Years' tells a very human story about irresponsible inventions and ignorance in a completely ALIEN setting; this is the true magic of the film! I thought the dialogue was creative and the story was fascinating. The creatures and characters are beyond description, and the ending will blow you away. True sci-fi fans I think should dismiss Leonard Maltin's review and rent this one!
It truly is a shame that no one's ever heard of this breathtakingly beautiful piece of animation. It's also a shame that animation is not usually employed in America as an adult art form. Animation shows us lifeforms and landscapes the likes of which cannot be seen on this Earth. Anyway, this is an amazing film that should be checked out by all anime fans as well as fans of films like Heavy Metal, or master animator Ralph Bakshi's works. Light Years is one of the most enlightening animated works on this planet.
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.
It's not an outstanding movie by any means, but it gets the job done
and entertains. One has to remember that when viewing sci-fi often the
plot takes precedence over character. Most plot driven films and
stories are like that: We're given the bare bones of our protagonist,
and watch him or her weave their way through a story.
Such it is with "Light Years." The animation is certainly above the quality of your typical commercial studio, but is not as dazzling as say a Japanese Anime space opera, nor a Disney Production feature; but it does have a certain quality unto itself. Even so the movie could've used more shots (cutaways and general coverage) to help move the story and highlight the characters more. As it stands more the shots are rather static, and the animation in them shifts gears a little too often. In some scene the animation is very smooth, where other times is seems very long and drawn out, or just not well staged.
The film itself has action, but some of the it is stilted and painfully slow, where other times it moves quite well. The dubbing is adequate, though, like all dubbed films, one gets the sense that it doesn't quite catch the tones and inflections of the voices from the original French cast.
Technology and regimented existence are pitted against the organic and under-dogs of Ghandahar in a typical sci-fi theme. The film's worth a night's rental, and if you like collecting rare sci-fi this might be one to add to your collection. Otherwise it may only be worth a single viewing.
*EDIT* French Region 2 DVD review, Jan 3, 2010
Well, I finally saw the original French film in all its entirety. As an American I have to say that I appreciate the additional footage, and can nod at the more subtle pacing, but I do have to say that I think the Americanized version has some pluses going for, namely in the music. The original French score underlines the basic theme of what is being presented. There are no heroics on the battlefield nor purely desperate moments as would be conveyed by the American musical score. The other subtleties are apparent, and I think I better understand why the American producers did what they did by sexing up what they could. The French film is more prosaic and "European" (for lack of a better term) in its presentation of a world in crisis. There's an emotional malaise characteristic of European cinema as a whole that comes across in the original French version. There's a subtle (and not so subtle) nihilistic quality here. Perhaps there's a bit of Nazi occupation still resonating within this film.
All I can really say is that it's a different film from the American version. I'm not sure I prefer one too much over the other. There's a lack of celebration in the French film. There's a kind of fatalistic quality to that is twisted but still present in the American version. Whereas the French version of this film emphasizes weathering the storm and completing the objective, the American version emphasizes confronting the challenge in a way that we Americans have always done. There's a lack of ambient depression that seems to hang and mildly envelope European art, film included. A kind of ethereal drawn out emotionalism that you'd never see in an American film, but is fairly strong in Russian and Swedish cinema, and hits French and Italian films in a less powerful vein.
I would be interested in seeing a DVD of the American version to make a more thought out and proper comparison. But I guess that'll have to wait.
about time and utopic realities. The animation is wonderful and detailed. Everything serves perfectly the telling of the story. And the hand of Asimov is not only in the novel, but also in the adaptation to the screen, so that is faithful to his representation of life. Worth watching a few times.
This film was one of the first science fiction cartoons I had seen. Perhaps that is the reason for my high praise of the film. I was engrossed from the very beginning. The dialouge was masterful. What the animation lacked, the combination of the writing and my imagination more than made up for. This film has a PG rating for brief nudity, but I think that children ages 10 on will be very pleased. It treats the audience not as a child or an adult. If you are a fan of hardcore science fiction then this film is for you. If you have never seen a single sci-fi film before, then this is the perfect blend of action and thought provoking images to introduce you to the genre. I will not get into details about the story. You can read the synopsis. In short, I highly recommend this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is a very good anticipation movie. the part describing the lovely and environmental gandahar is wonderful. While renewing a 70's vision of sex, nature and happiness, the colors, sounds and pictures (a young girl offering her breast to a new born invented animal who looks like a tapir, born out of a grown plant). the story: mixing future and past, threatening the present by having itself created in the past, the elements that will be dangerous in the future. It is also a huge criticism of the liability of the human being regarding its evil habit to master the nature, th human body and science. In the end, scientific rubbish save the human beings from a great scientific discovery they made years ago. Happiness is conditioned by assuming one's mistakes. A great philosophical tale. The blue skinned woman with head-wings is very impressive, as well as the very beautiful nude females.
Well, I have to admit that I hunted this particular movie for 10 years.
I've seen it for the first time when I was in my early teens (12 or 13,
not sure), and I was really impressed by the animation and the plot.
Besides, I didn't have a chance to see a lot of sci-fi movies (let
alone animated movies) back then.
Now, that I've been able to see it again, I find it really outdated (or "old-skul") - pretty much, it felt like Kubrick's "Space Odissey" animated, only that "Gandahar" came out in late 80es, when "Akira" set a new industry standard. The plot is more or less predictable, the sci-fi backgrounds looked like something from mid-70es, and the battle scenes are even worse than those of cheap Japanimation TV series.
Despite all the bad things above, this movie got a touch of a master. First, I have to admit that movement animation feels highly original (I can't think of anything similar) and is done with a lot of skill. Second, the voices (in French) are much better than anything I've heard. Finally, I find character design very good.
To sum up, I don't think that this is quite the right movie to see "just for fun", but for those who are interested in animation it is definitely a must.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seen first when I was about 12 or so, Light Years (as it is known in
the US) was a fantastic, dreamlike journey through a surreal Sci-Fi
landscape. It's been one of my favorite animated films ever since.
Though it may not be your particular brand of vodka (as the previous mixed comments suggest), it's definitely a well-done effort. The storyline itself is a bit complex, but the basic idea is fascinating. The 'Metal Men' who make up the army of the future, evil brain entity and their cities and surrounding world are appropriately detailed and well drawn. They give you are real feeling of inhumanity and implacable resolve. I particularly enjoyed the mutant race that appears in the future setting. A note to parents though, like an earlier comment mentioned, there is some partial nudity at a few points during the film. It is not sexual in nature and not really very provocative at all, but as a parent you should be aware. (Note, I saw it when I was 12 and wasn't emotionally or psychologically damaged by the animated breasts). If you have the opportunity, see it and decide for yourself.
Imagine the barbaric Fire and Ice! The epicness of Heavy Metal! The acid-laced mystique of Fantastic Planet! All of these wrapped into one powerhouse of an animated classic! You'll watch this movie, and wonder if you're watching the prequel to the story of Rush's 2112. It has an undertone of a monolithic society, but with sentinel invaders from the future trying to kill them off like thousands of Sara Connors. Although I've only seen versions of this with English subtitles, the masterpiece that it is kept me drawn in with interesting characters and awesome action sequences. I showed this movie to many of my friends and some people that love '80s animation, and they added this to their Top 10 animated list. As a kid, this is one of the styles that made me want to be an artist and animator. One of my favorite animated movies of all time!
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