Fantastic Planet (1973)
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This movie was made nearly 30 years ago, so the animation is not really comparable to modern-day animation, but the story and the plot transcend time. The premise of the film is as valid today as it was in the 70s.
The DVD edition of the movie comes with three additional animated shorts by Rene Laloux, and they are just as entertaining. This is a real gem of a movie...truly beautiful. My kids love it as well. A true masterpiece.
10 out of 10. An animation masterpiece.
It is a good movie, but not a masterpiece. The narrative treads the science fiction tropes too strictly and ends up painting characters and events predictably when the setup seems to suggest something more interesting. In fact, I was very disappointed that the most developed and interesting relationship in the whole film is traded off for a kind of boring resistance story that does its best to not let the audience make connections with the characters. It is not picked up or revisited later... and none of the subsequent character interplay is as interesting or meaningful.
Where this film excels is in its weirdness and imagination. Strange and horrible creations are brought to life and move/eat/gestate/exist in ways that will make you go 'ew' and 'wow' at the same time. This is helped by the strong European styling of the animation (mostly limited in movement) and illustration, which reminded me of studio Zagreb..
There is something so mysterious about the atmosphere of this film - it may just grab you. Definitely watch it for the disturbing and somehow touching relationship between Tiva and Terr - you'll only wish there was more of it.
He worked wit "Topor" on "La planète sauvage". Roland Topor is a french artist with a great sense of fantasy. He designed most of all you can see on the screen. The animation was produced in Czechoslovakia because there always have been excellent animation studios in this country, and also because producing in France was far too expensive. This story takes place in the past. It is a metaphor of the man's history. The small characters are called "Oms". This word is pronounced like the french word "Hommes" that means "man". It tell us when man had to leave the original heaven. Man had to fight against his old masters to be independent and free, then he had to find his place in the universe. This is the universal story ... and that's why this movie is timeless (despite the 70s Wha Wha guitars ... ;o)
Based on a brilliant piece of science fiction ("Oms En Serie" by Stefan Wul). The artwork is stunning, and the story line an original masterpiece.
The plotline of this story is simple.
You enslave a race of beings and take them for granted, one of them eventually learns your language, and unites all his fellow slaves in an organized attack.
Suddenly you've been conquered.
This story line was later ripped off by L. Ron Hubbard and his group of wackos. You might have read the book, or seen the atrocity of a film "Battlefield Earth".
The 2-D animation is something that you can expect from the seventies, but it is very original and innovative for the time. It has the detail and charm of all good illustration books, and, despite the limits in movement, the characters are very expressive and beautifully drawn, as well as the landscapes. The world and atmospheres created by Laloux are superb, both familiar and strange. The Recipe? Mix Dali surreal landscapes, Bosch architecture and fauna/flora creatures, add a hint of 19th century botanical drawings, slowly pour some Pink Floyd-ish music, and whisk all energetically with a fat-free faux-mythological metaphorical story, and you have The Savage Planet, which is the original title of the movie in French.
The story is very interesting and has many possible interpretations and readings: the role of humans in Nature, cohabitation and coexistence of different species and political systems, what makes different species superior and savage, among others. I found funny that the people in the story are called Oms (French word for people is Hommes and it sounds the same as Oms), and the main character is called Terr (the name of earth in French is Terre and sounds the same as Terr).
The main problem with the story and the characters is that they are not always engaging as they don't transmit enough emotion or feeling to the viewer. The viewer doesn't feel empathy towards the poor suffering human pets or towards the aliens, the first because they really act like a pest, and the second because they are too spiritual and developed to tolerate others than themselves. This is all intended, but still frigidly expressed. The lack of thrill is what kills the movie.
Nevertheless, this is one of those animation movies that everybody should see, full of imagination, talent, and landmarks in Animation. A cult movie that deserves the cult. Unique.
"Fantastic Planet" is a science fiction film about a world inhabited by Traags (large blue alien species) and Oms (human creatures that are regarded as pests and pets by the colossal Traags), along with other interesting and bizarre creatures like something out of Dr. Seuss. The Traags aren't necessarily evil, though they're the antagonists. They treat the Oms just like humans treat mice, as pests and occasionally pets, and the depictions of the Traags' treatments of their pets really is not that far removed from how humans truly do treat their pets as well. One Om, Terr, manages to escape from his Traag mistress and steal her "headphones" which help imprint all of Traag knowledge. He meets up with wild Oms and, with the headphone device, manages to create an uprising against the Traags.
Not only psychedelic, the intent was political in nature, though by these days the movie has toned down a bit. It is in fact a really pretty animation because of its use of colors and design, which for me is a lot more interesting than its historical value. For fans of animation of different types, it's a must see, but also for those who crave the underground psychedelic aspects of the 70s era and have worn out their DVDs of Fritz the Cat and The Yellow Submarine, this provides a charming alternative.
Not saying this film is on par with Gilliam's work as a film director. It's better than Tideland though...
The animations were made with a low budget and rather static but do what they're supposed to do with only one part that is too repetitive (with the cannons). Imaginative design makes up for sometimes crudely drawn characters. The drawing style has a certain old-fashioned quality to it at times, as if you're watching an illustrated children's bible (but with some boob hanging out here and there and some violence that could give some kids nightmares). Beware, it's an adult film.
You won't find another movie like this anywhere and I can recommend this trippy, laid back psychedelic experience. It's mind-expanding without the need for substance abuse!
Well, it didn't kill me to see the film and I'm happy to say that it was worth my time – for a number of reasons. First, the mise-en-scene is quite imaginative with absolutely surreal environments that I think owe a lot to the imagery of Monty Python; nothing wrong in copying – everybody does it, anyway.
Second, it's a fairly simple story about the oppression and exploitation of the masses in a fantastic society somewhere in the cosmos. To that extent, it's an allegory for any situation that results in a clash between opposing cultures, different societies and so on. It's given a new slant here, though, by portraying humanity – called the Oms – as the oppressed who are exploited by blue giants, known as the Traag. The plot follows the exploits of one male Om who, after learning all about the Traag, escapes from them to rouse the other Oms to mount a rebellion.
Finally, however, the most intriguing aspect about this film is the clear connection between it and other sci-fi and fantasy films. For example, the discordant sounds in this film are, I think, a direct copy of those I heard in The Forbidden Planet (1957). As noted already, the whole scenario owes much to the Monty Python TV series. And for sure, I think, James Cameron copied the idea of a giant tree sanctuary from this film for inclusion in his epic Avatar (2009). Cameron, of course, reversed the oppressed-oppressor roles of humanity and the blue giants for his story.
Moreover, here's a way-out thought: being a French production and seeing as how the French just love Hollywood westerns, I was amused to see the 'outlaw' Oms run for cover to a tiny hole in a wall – a long, blank, gigantic solid wall – much like how the real Butch Cassidy and his outlaws retreated to what was known as The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang hideout in the late nineteenth century. Too much of a stretch for you? Then think about why the writers here also included a Hollow Bush Gang of Oms who acted as enemies of the rebellious Oms in the Tree of Life sanctuary who wanted to escape from the Traag.
Actually, I also think that The Hollow Bush Gang is a metaphor for the Gang with No Brains, as you will see – in contrast to the rebellious Oms who figured out how to escape from Traag domination. Knowledge, after all, is power and so forth...
And, for something even more off the wall: long ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs (famous for Tarzan and others) wrote sci-fi stories about Mars. In one of those stories, there were headless humanoids that could function only when a head slithered into position between the shoulders. So watch for a brazen copy of that idea in this film.
I guess kids today would find the graphics and imagery quite rudimentary when compared to the current technology of mind-blowing CGI action. Too bad – their loss.
If you ever come across it on TV or on DVD, you could do lot worse with a couple of your hours, I guess. As a piece of cinema history, it is worth seeing; and I'm glad I did.
Give it seven stars for the imagery and overall effort.
January 26, 2012
The philosophy may be shallow; downtrodden rise to overcome oppressors, but getting there is full of memorable tidbits. I loved the innocent child carelessly playing with the little Omm, I loved the society of the superior people with it's focus on intellectual pursuit, yet it's vulnerability to the oppressed little people that they generally underestimate and ignore. The fact that this was done as a cartoon helps not hinders. I have always remembered the blue people, and the music is well scored.
This movie is for adults, who like the off-beat, and enjoy a little thought provoking entertainment.
We are in a sci-fi world. But nothing meets expectations. Humans are dominated by giant blue aliens, kept as pets. These Draags are more advanced than us, but their devices are strange, stuff that'd never be useful in real life. There's hardly a regular moment in the film. Funny clothing, strange customs, nefarious devices, disturbing flora and fauna. In terms of creativity, I believe this is #1.
The other elements also compliment the style perfectly. The animation uses both traditional and stop-motion animation, giving the film a jerky pace. The soundtrack is pure 70s psychedelic. An appropriate tune for something impossible to fully comprehend. You get immersed in the experience.
However, a fair warning - this movie is the epitome of style-over-substience. The characters are weak, and the message is ancillary at best. If the unusual style doesn't appeal to you, then move on. But for those who love the animated art, its something you need to see at least once.
The art and animation are superb, filled with more detail and imagination than any ten standard animated films (the works of Miyazaki excluded).
It isn't perfect, of course. For all it's visual and allegorical depth, the characters are about as deep as a glass of water, existing only to deliver lines which further the plot. In fact, the main character practically disappears during the final act. Additionally, while the sights of alien plant and animal life show a great deal of creativity, we are treated to far too many of them. Such sequences are great for establishing a sense of place, but should have been cut closer to the end of the film.
As an interesting final note, the theme of knowledge overcoming power, and particularly the use of a "knowledge machine" suspiciously appeared later in L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth", giving us one less reason to retain any respect for the man.
The story's about a planet where humans aren't the dominant species, being captured and domesticated. The human capacity to think and learn eventually turn the pets into pests, leading to the eternal human struggle for freedom.
The animation itself is nothing to get crazy about, but the psychedelic images reminds you of the futuristic LP covers of such bands like Journey, Boston and Yes.
I would like to see more work like this being produced in countries other than Japan. Is a refreshing new view of the yet untapped potential of animation.
Also engaging are the characters. They are simple, but you do empathise with them especially Terr who moved me rightly from minute one. The animation is by far the best asset, it is absolutely fantastic, with beautiful backgrounds, stunning colours and well-modelled characters. The music is beautiful, poignant and haunting as well and the writing is top notch.
The voice acting does very well to fit with the characters and it is also sensitive and also succeeds in making the characters even more likable than they are. The English dubbing is good, but I find the original one more emotive and poetic. In fact, my only gripe with Fantastic Planet is that there are times when it does drag, but overall it is a unique and quite fantastic film. 9/10 Bethany Cox
We see how other beings saw humans as lower life forms and how they underestimate human determination and the ability to quickly adapt to different variables. Some can see this story in multiple perspectives. Whether it is class separation and struggles, the freeing from slavery with the underdog now being able to reward themselves the fruits of their labor, the ants and grasshopper along with many other stories and themes.
However I think this story also reflects some of the oldest stories mankind has thought about. Even as early as the Sumerian and/or Babylonian myths of the Anunnaki and the rebellions. Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge then being cast out from the Garden of Eden. Along with other myths from Greeks and Romans. Understanding that to evolve as a species, one must have the education to further technology but at the same time not to be a slave and a lazy product of that technology or else that species would be a victim to which they just defeated whether if it is physical, mental, ideological and so forth.
This animated film contains a multitude of concepts for which future similar stories can't fully capture.
Its good for multiple age ranges and one can make it as easy or as complex as one sees fit
La Planete Sauvage is probably a movie in this category. The film is short, just over an hour, but from the very beginning it starts with something controversial: a woman carrying a baby is being teased by giant humanoids that have fingers the size of the woman. It turns out they are children, playing with the human as a human would play with an ant. They accidentally kill her and her baby is being taken as a pet by one of these giants. They are called Tragg and they consider humans animals, to be petted or exterminated as they please. The very first scenes are brutal to watch and that's why I think this would never sit well with a culture that values superiority more than anything else.
You have to watch it in French, if you get the language, I had a dual French/English audio film with English subtitles and, even if I didn't go through the English audio, there is something about the French language that just naturally blends with the arrogant culture of the Traggs. The Tragg culture and their planet were truly spectacular. To think that in 1973 someone thought of a superior technological culture that is truly alien while remaining humanoid, and did it well, was amazing. The concepts hold true even now, in 2014!
I have to say that I have been thinking of writing a story about humans treated as pets by an alien culture, but after I've seen this I couldn't possibly do it, as it is perfect as storyline and concepts. It also makes me think of another subject close to my heart: dogs. In Romania there are still a lot of vagabond dogs and the heartless and pointless discussions about exterminating them are very close to what the Tragg are doing when considering the human vermin. There are also some ideas about the "wild human" society that hit close to this concept of groups of people gathering around the mentality of the lowest common denominator. So, in my mind, to add valid philosophical and moral points to an already brilliant story with fantastic drawings is like covering the icing of the cake with a ton of cherries!
About the animation style. This is something that made some people rate this film a lot lower than it deserves. Are you aware that it was made in 1973, by Czech animators? Actually, besides the voice actors and the wonderful director René Laloux, there were almost no French people in the production team. The animation in the Czech Republic is a reason for national pride, but the way they do it was unique and certainly different from the US, French and Japanese animation styles. OK, so maybe you prefer the animation style of Robin Hood, with the animals, but really, this is so much better in so many ways that I couldn't possibly get snagged on animation.
Bottom line: The imagination, the way it just threw out there idea after idea, no matter how uncomfortable, the storyline, the amazing creatures, the weird ways in which they were killing people... it was true sci-fi. The real thing! Watch this! It will take an hour of your life, big deal! You will see that your brain will churn all of those ideas for a while after watching the film. It will feel like a strange but amazing flavor on your tongue. Top rating!
Fantastic Planet sees mankind acting as either mere pets or vermin to a colossal race of blue humanoids. Upon reading this you'd expect to overlords to be cruel and arrogant, and they manage to be even more frightening by being relatively benign yet unfathomably different from us at the same time. Laloux refuses to judge the aliens, just as he refuses to romanticize the human lead, or his new comrades. A later attempt at extermination is treated with the cold detachment of pest control.
Although it would actually be interesting to watch a gifted modern filmmaker have a go at this plot with a significant budget and contemporary technology, they would be hard-pressed to convey the level of unease primal dread conveyed by Laloux's deceptively simple visuals. The look is scarce but each touch hits its mark, whether it be the blank faces of the Draags, the skin-colored Bosch-inspired landscapes, or the weird vignettes of cruelty within the planet's warped animal kingdom. Add to that a dreamy score by Alain Goraguer and you end up with a film that, when it's unnerving you, is just balls-to-the-wall trippy.
Over 40 years on, it is still refreshing to behold a film that sits at the polar opposite of the lushness of a Miyazaki or Disney, one that possibly jump-started the era of animation as a medium of ideas that would later give us the likes of Ghost in the Shell and Jin Roh. An enduring masterpiece, well worth the watch!
And yes, leave no mistake, it also works very well as a "stoner movie", one of those ridiculously warped visions that goes into the world of the imagination so heavily, with tangential moments in scenes (the 'blending' of the Draags in one scene, the constant flow of various monsters, the 'mating' ritual, the de-Oming), with a soundtrack that's like a outstanding, unlikely collaboration between Isaac Hayes and Pink Floyd (you don't know whether it'll split into Dark Side or Shaft). Premise is simple: a little oprhaned Om named Terr is taken in as a 'pet' of Tiwa, and is half tortured half loved by her. But, as case happens, she outgrows him, and he runs away after being filled with knowledge by some machine. Then he gets sucked into the underground world of the Oms, where there's lots of mating and other activities, such as fights (wacko scene with those teeth-filled monsters strapped on like Gonzo gladiators). But their civilization is in peril, and it's time to fight back!
Lots of classic myths pumped in, but at times you almost forget there's story, which might be half the point. The director Rene Laloux, along with collaborators like Roland Topor, creates a world unequivocally unto itself, where there are real strokes with pencils and colors and inks, where it seems very much like a collection of pictures from some obscure European fable book for kids, only loaded with some kind of life-force that moves like no other animated film (maybe it's slightest, closest-distant relative is Yellow Submarine, which is still a stretch). Characters move in and out occasionally like a Terry Gilliam short- giant hand and other objects placed in almost jokingly, which makes it a lot of fun at times- and there's something eerie in Laloux's dedication to pushing the expectation-level, mainly because, as noted, we haven't seen this style before. It's a quiet form of sensationalism, where it sneaks up on the viewer, and then takes over a scene, growing little by little, like some weird plant.
In short, he does his job as a genre director, probably on par with the great visionaries, while using some primitive methods of animation. But through imperfections there's more expressive tendencies, moments of chance and random visions like a monster springing organically about to eat another, or to go through bizarre mating rituals as Venus de Milo statues with blue heads. Or, in other words, as my long-winded adulation goes to say, a superb "stoner movie". Not that being sober will make you absorbed any less; it's a compliment, in a sense, that in its glory of its time it reaches a true cult impulse, where children can enjoy its wonderful glimpses of the "fantastic", and adults can have another more mature, thought-provoking input in its implications on power and human nature.