The Fantastic Planet (1973) – Rene Laloux

The 101 Sci-Fi Movies has brought me an animated film! And an odd little film it is. Based on a novel by Stefan Wul, the story is a tale of two races, the giant blue-skinned, red-eyed Draags and the tiny Oms – Humans, who are seen as nothing more than an infestation on the planet, but aren’t so bad if they are domesticated.

One of the Oms, after witnessing the death of his mother, is claimed by Tiva, the daughter of one of the Draag’s leaders, and is taken home as a pet. It is there, that young Terr as he is named, learns more than he should, via Tiva’s educational earpiece. He learns the planet’s history, its geography, how to read and write the Draag language, and begins to understand the technology at work on the planet.

As Tiva grows older, the things of her childhood, including Terr are slowly left behind, and he uses the moment to escape, stealing the educator in the process.

Terr comes across some savage Oms living in a park, and proves himself knowledgeable, resourceful and is put to good use, living amongst them. When a sign is placed on a wall, warning of a de-ominization, Terr heads out to warn other savage Oms in the park.

terrAs they flee the park, murdering a Draag in the process, heightening their threat to the dominant civilization on the planet, they come to a deserted rocket facility where they plan to leave this planet, and take over the nearby body simply referred to as the Fantastic Planet.

There they learn a terrifying truth about the Draags and other species of the galaxy, and as they come to the brink of war with one another, they decide that if both species want to live, they’ll have to broker a form of peace.

Now despite the fact that it is animated, that doesn’t mean it’s a family film, there is blood, nudity and violence, not to mention some very strange and unnerving looking beings inhabiting this world.

I do like the animation and the art though, it puts me in mind of the art used in storybooks when I was a kid. It was like one of the books I had on my bookshelf had come to life, there is attention to detail mixed with a wild imagination. It looks great!

duelThis was my first experience with this film, and I was intrigued with it, and though the story is almost simplicity itself, it doesn’t treat its audience that way. It tells its story as much through visuals as it does through the dialogue.

We learn pretty early on that the Oms are indeed the last survivors of our own planet, and the Draags suspect we may have some modicum of intelligence as seen by some of the structures still remaining on the desolated Earth, but initially see us nothing more than an irritant.

It is an example of the triumph of the human spirit, yes, in this case we steal the knowledge we use, but it allows us to show the Draags that despite our size we should be considered equals, though, sadly, we only achieved this equality through violence and destruction (of course these same acts of violence and destruction are committed upon the Oms by the Draags long before they fight back).

Perhaps not the best way to show that message… But an interesting film nonetheless.

Have you seen it?


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