Fantastic Planet (1973)
“I was just a live plaything who sometimes dared to rebel.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
While the storyline is rather simplistic, it packs a terrific punch overall, and is surprisingly horrific for an animated film. From its opening sequence — in which a tiny female Om carrying a newborn baby is mercilessly harassed, then brutally killed by callous Draags — it’s clear that director Rene Laloux and Roland Topper (“who provided the original artwork”) are telling a no-holds-barred allegorical tale of extreme oppression and tyranny. And while Peary’s complaints about the “static” animation are valid to a certain extent, he fails to reveal how truly stunning and original the visuals are throughout the story — this is a film you’ll want to watch again and again, simply to appreciate the wildly imaginative world Laloux and Topper have created. (Indeed, Peary does acknowledge that “best of all are the weird animals that inhabit this savage planet”, though he argues that “there are too few”.)
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Fantastic Planet (1973)”
Must-see – and, yes, is undoubtedly better with repeat viewings.
Peary’s critical points are certainly odd, esp. re: how the film was constructed. He seems to not take into consideration that one of two things is entirely possible: a) the technique was what was available to the filmmakers at the time, or b) the technique was intentional. Regardless, his tentative praise is puzzling – this is clearly a very original work, a one-of-a-kind film that ffs do need to see and will likely want to re-visit.
From what I’ve learned, the film is a response to Soviet Occupation of the Czech Republic. But even though the political intent is specific, it’s not difficult to translate that into larger, more international concerns: some group is always oppressed somewhere in the world. This could be somebody’s conversation at the water cooler with a colleague, about a boss.
I’m not surprised to hear that this film was often shown in movie theaters on a double-bill with ‘Yellow Submarine’. While watching ‘FP’, the influence of ‘YS’ seemed present (‘YS’ preceded by five years, and one would think animators watch each other’s films). There’s a similar good vs. evil them, but the direct influence of ‘YS’ is very much on the periphery (the more bizarre and hard-to-explain elements of the planet’s environment).
At 72 minutes, the length is just right. The film trusts the intelligence of its audience, and the latter’s ability to fill in what’s not spelled out. I will admit that, when the film started, I was a bit thrown off – not sure how I would take to the film’s initial approach. But, soon enough, you’re more than likely to find yourself swept away into this very specific world and everything will make sense on its own terms. (The film just gets better as it goes.)
For me, this is a find – a rewarding, enriching film experience.