Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fantastic Planet

La Planete sauvage; animated science-fiction, France/ Czech Republic, 1973; D: Rene Laloux, S: Jean Valmont, Eric Baugin, Jennifer Drake

On the planet Ygam, humans originating from Terra, live either as pets or pest among the blue giants, the Traags, who dominate the planet thanks to their size and superior technology. Two Traag children play with a woman and accidentally kill her, but Traag girl Tiva adopts the baby, Terr. As a grown up, Terr manages to escape and steal the Traags education machine, which he uses to educate a human tribe. They gain knowledge and technology to build rockets. Traags start exterminating humans, but they land on the nearby planet where the Traags land in bubbles on naked statues to multiply. As the humans start destroying the statues, they thus cause mass extinction of Traags as well. Realizing they both do not want to destroy each other, the humans and Traags decide to live side by side, peacefully.

The first animated film that won the Grand Prix in Cannes, "Fantastic Planet" is Rene Laloux's first feature length film and one of the strangest animated films for grown ups. The movie looks as if the director spent a long time observing how people hold various wild, exotic animals caged - parrots, turtles, fish, hamsters - and then decided to show them how they would feel on their place instead in this allegorical story where humans are actually treated as pets or pest (deomization=deratization) who depend on the mercy of the blue giants. Ultra bizarre, grotesque and unpleasant, this is one of the few Sci-fi films that show an alien planet just the way it is - alien, and not like another Earth version of it - with the most unusual designs that border more on some paintings of Salvador Dali (a cube that traps a man as soon as someone touches it; a thin, black palm like tree moving left and right) and stiff animation, yet it has a point if one has the above mentioned theme in mind. The ending is pure surrealism, but together with the point manages to retroactively justify such a story and execution. A hermetic, but bold cry for tolerance and coexistence, and inherently one of the greatest movies raizing awareness about animal rights.


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