Fantastic Planet (René Laloux / France-Czechoslovakia, 1973):
(La Planète Sauvage; Planet of Incredible Creatures)

A children’s game from the plaything’s terrified vantage introduces the planet Ygam, presided over by blue-skinned, bland-voiced colossuses with lidless crimson eyes, the Draags. A race of Tom Thumbs known as the Oms struggles to survive, at best they’re seen as pets by the amphibious giants, at worse as vermin. An orphaned Om is adopted by an adolescent Draag named Tiwa; christened Terr, he’s collared and dressed in tiny jester togs, and secretly absorbs knowledge from his owner’s faulty educational headphones. "It was possible to learn. The problem was, did I want to?" Walerian Borowcyk would have been the ideal choice for this serenely cruel animated reverie, though director René Laloux and writer-designer Roland Topor achieve their own trippy alchemy by giving the Swiftian fable a Tanguy perspective. Terr’s escape and the feral Oms’ exodus toward one of the planet’s moons chart out the uncanny landscape -- crystals sprout like mushrooms and are vanquished by whistling, a chortling Venus flytrap exists solely to grab and crush birds, roots and crevasses and canals are woozily sexualized. The glow-in-the-dark sacred procession from Fantasia is re-imagined as a tasteful forest orgy, the Draags meanwhile get their psychedelic freak on in literal out-of-body interludes during which their souls drift away in bubbles and attach themselves to waltzing, headless statues (cf. Mallarmé's dream of the dancer's entrechats). A patchwork of cutouts from Soviet tech and science magazines pinned into druggy tableaux, with a genuine sense of placid terror to give teeth to its planar allegories. With the voices of Jennifer Drake, Eric Baugin, Jean Topart, and Jean Valmont.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home