René Laloux’s mesmerising psychedelic sci-fi animated feature won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is a landmark of European animation. Based on Stefan Wul’s novel Oms en série [Oms by the dozen], Laloux’s breathtaking vision was released in France as La Planète sauvage [The Savage Planet]; in the USA as Fantastic Planet; and immediately drew comparisons to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Planet of the Apes (both the 1968 film and Boule’s 1963 novel). Today, the film can be seen to prefigure much of the work of Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) due to its palpable political and social concerns, cultivated imagination, and memorable animation techniques.
Fantastic Planet tells the story of “Oms”, human-like creatures, kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of blue giants called “Draags”. The story takes place on the Draags’ planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from infancy to adulthood. He manages to escape enslavement from a Draag learning device used to educate the savage Oms — and begins to organise an Om revolt. The imagination invested in the surreal creatures, music and sound design, and eerie landscapes, is immense and unforgettable.
Widely regarded as an allegorical statement on the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Fantastic Planet was five years in the making at Prague’s Jiri Trnka Studios. The direction of René Laloux, the incredible art of Roland Topor, and Alain Goraguer’s brilliantly complementary score (much sampled by the hip-hop community) all combine to make Fantastic Planet a mind-searing experience. —Eureka Entertainment
René Laloux (July 13, 1929–March 13, 2004) was a French animator and film director.
He was born in Paris in 1929 and went to art school to study painting. After some time working in advertising, he got a job in a psychiatric institution where he began experimenting in animation with the interns. It is at the psychiatric institution that he made 1960’s Monkey’s Teeth (Les Dents du Singe), in collaboration with Paul Grimault’s studio, and using a script written by the Cour Cheverny’s interns.
Another important collaborator of his was Roland Topor with whom Laloux made Dead Time (Les Temps Morts, 1964), The Snails (Les Escargots, 1965) and his most famous work, the feature length Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage, 1973).
Laloux also worked with Jean Giraud (Mœbius) to create the lesser known film Les Maîtres du temps (Time Masters) in 1981. Laloux’s 1988 film, Gandahar, was released… read more
This is a pretty surreal fantastical thought provoking tale of giants ruling over small humans and their battle for equality. It was like watching a bad acid trip take place, some really nightmarish scenes that I'll probably never forget. It's based on when the Soviets occupied Czechoslovakia.
Also: New Scope. London goes all out for Ken Russell. Nina Menkes in New York. Sean Lennon curates LA animation festival.
It is kind of thrilling to see that the ever-exemplary U.K.-based Eureka!/Masters of Cinema label is so bullish on the Blu-ray disc format