Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fantastic Planet

I recently got to watch René Laloux's animated 1973 science fiction film Fantastic Planet / La Planète sauvage (The Savage Planet) for the first time as an adult and was thoroughly impressed. The initial impression had stuck with me through the intervening decades for a reason -- it's utterly cool, spooky, and cogent. It has also accurately been described as "trippy."

The French-Czech animation shares a certain spirit with the animated scenes from Monty Python's Flying Circus and has a deliberate, episodic pace similar to Peanuts, all of the same time period. In that sense, it's like a time capsule from the 1960s and early 1970s -- and definitely well-worth seeing. Cool sound track, too.

La Planète sauvage was adapted from Stefan Wul's 1957 novel Oms en Série (Oms by the Dozen). The film deals with time, space, meditation, and interspecies cohabitation (and genocidal activities, replete with poison gas) and is at times reminiscent of Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel, La planète des singes / Planet of the Apes. And it's as contemporary as the Palestinian-Israeli and Sino-Tibetan conflicts.

One of the interviews accompanying the DVD (which includes the original French with English subtitles, as well as an English language dub version) discusses the difficulties of completing the film in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and notes four scenes were never brought to fruition. Indeed, the very end seems to be missing some key transitional scene. Nevertheless, Fantastic Planet works on every level, from basic storytelling to suggestive allegory, both visually and aurally.

Today's Rune: Partnership.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I have not seen this but it really looks like something I would enjoy. I've got to have a look.