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Fantastic Planet

Fantastic Planet (1973)

Directed By: Rene Laloux
Starring (Voice): Jean Topart, Jean Valmont, Yves Barsaq, Jennifer Drake

The Om-eating creature is flailing as his wings are bearing torn apart

Fantastic Planet, or as I like to call it, Le Planete Suvage (which is a title more true to the film), is before anything else, a dystopian science fiction movie. You might have encountered bits and pieces of this film via pictures of bizarre imagery and surreal objects, but they are structures and shapes that surround a vivid, provocative, and intriguing world, where you can get new clothes by getting eaten by a coconut-shaped creature (don't ask how), and not the base of this film.

Thus the story: in a future a planet is inhabited by Draags, who are a tall, blue-skinned species living as the rulers and majority. They are sharing their place with humans, called Oms, who in comparison, are much smaller. The height ratio is about us on Earth to ants. Oms are usually kept as pets and toys, while wild Oms are exterminated. One day a baby Om comes to the possession of Tiwa (Jennifer Drake), a young female Draag. She names the baby Om Terr (Jean Valmont). Terr grows up, gets to gain Draag knowledge, then escapes, finally ending up joining a community of wild Oms. He naturally becomes a leader and slowly starts to shape a rebellion.

Fantastic Planet is more approachable than most would think. There is a familiar story of a newcomer rebel who rises to the top, meets someone to love, discovers the virtues of his new surrounding. There are also various scenes of contemporary drama, terror, and a bit of action too, if you count hunting down a half eagle/dragon who consumes Oms like anteaters consume ants. In a way, every development of a scene, and cuts to the next one, are very cinematic and are those you would see in a live action film. Some of these aspects are fade-ins, fade-outs, and pan shots. Blood and nudity are frequent, but they are merely brushes that fill a canvas. The PG rating is appropriate, although the boundaries are pushed sometimes, but it equals enjoyment to us adults.

The world of this film is a place where wonders can exist. The futuristic movies of today are based on a potential future, full of straight and measured lines, lens flares, and spaceships vibrating with cliched blue light. In Fantastic Planet every single image that it shown is based off wild thoughts, and primitive, surreal designs, the ones you would make when you scribbled on a notepad as a child, where you believed there could one day be a rocket with dragon wings, and so on. The Draags are being who live in a more advanced society, but there is a strong sense of old elements mixed in, and a balance between nature and civilization. It's what makes this film truly beautiful and awe-inspiring, how man made technology feels so small in front of mysterious, spellbinding flora and fauna.

Draags conquering over the Oms, using chemical weapons as a form of oppression is a supposed allegory to the Soviet Union and it's countries under their control, but it basically applies to any sort of unjustified mistreatment caused by a supreme power/symptom bullying a weaker group/individual. Whether it's racism, school bullying, mental problems, the story of Fantastic Planet is highly relateable to those who have once been in that situation, including myself.

The animation style is stop-motion and a lot of old school, however because it looks dated and faded it truly fits a vast land and sky that has been inhabited by psychedelic frenzies for many, many years, and seeing how one Draag season is 15 years for an Om, maybe billions of years. If the cut-out animation sequences of a Python film were to elevated to a level of genius, while keeping a bit of the absurdity and comicness, you would get Fantastic Planet. I want to mention the music too, it mixes electric instruments and analog ones, creating eerie and captivating sounds shouting out either pain, fear, or a sense of adventure, sometimes all of those combined.

A 70 minute running time does not do this film justice. When this film ended, I wanted so much more, I was left with a longing for a story that shows what happened afterwards. Now, this isn't because Swan convinced me into enjoying imagery that would most likely appear in his schizophrenia-induced dreams, but because Fantastic Planet is no different than, let's say, Alice in Wonderland, the only difference is a lot more maturity. As an artist you will absolutely loved and embrace Fantastic Planet, and that goes for children too.