Delightfully Strange French Sci-Fi: Fantastic Planet (1973)

La Planete Sauvage

If there was one film that had profound influence on my interest in strange science fiction it would be Fantastic Planet (La Planete Sauvage, 1973). At the age of about ten years old I was responsible enough to be left home one night while my parents went next door to visit a neighbor. I settled into the couch and found an animated film airing on the USA Network, which used to show more off-beat things on cable TV of the 1980s. That film was Fantastic Planet, which scared me for years to come but intrigued me with its dark plot, psychedelic creatures, and muted palette. Even at that young age I felt a connection to the deep surrealist mood of this film.

Fantastic Planet Plot

The film jumps right in with a gripping premise: humans (knows as Oms) are a physically smaller and subservient race on a planet ruled by giant blue humanoid beings known as the Draags. The Oms are kept as playthings for the Draags, who appear to be technologically and evolutionarily superior to their human-like pets.

The story begins with a young Om, Terr, who is taken in by a Draag and raised as a pet. As he grows older, Terr begins to understand the oppressive nature of Draag society and becomes involved in a resistance movement of other Oms who seek to reclaim their freedom.

As the resistance movement grows and gains momentum, the Draags become increasingly repressive, leading to a conflict that threatens the very existence of both the Oms and the Draags.

Throughout the film, “Fantastic Planet” explores themes of imperialism, exploitation, and resistance, and its thought-provoking narrative and haunting soundtrack have established it as a classic of animated cinema. The film’s imaginative setting, unique characters, and powerful themes make it a standout in the world of animation and a must-see for fans of science fiction and surrealism.

Fantastic Planet Creation

Fantastic Planet is a French animated film that was released in 1973 and directed by René Laloux. The film was written by Roland Cosandey. The film’s unique and imaginative visuals were illustrated by Roland Topor, a French artist and writer who was a key figure in the French Surrealist movement. Topor’s contributions to the film’s art and writing helped to establish its distinctive tone and themes.

The film’s script was written by Cosandey and Laloux in collaboration with Topor, and it reflects their unique vision and interest in science fiction, social critique, and surrealism. “Fantastic Planet” explores themes of imperialism, exploitation, and resistance. The film’s portrayal of the Draags as imperialistic oppressors and the humans as oppressed underdogs has been interpreted as a commentary on colonialism and the exploitation of marginalized communities.

Fantastic Planet was a collaboration between Laloux, Cosandey, and Topor, who each brought their unique skills and perspectives to the project. Laloux’s experience as a film director, Cosandey’s background in writing and screenwriting, and Topor’s imaginative illustrations all played a key role in the film’s development and success.

Fantastic Planet Soundtrack

The soundtrack for Fantastic Planet, composed by Alain Goraguer, helps to define the unique tone of this film. The music is a mix of electronic, orchestral, and experimental sounds that dance around jazz and modern music structures. But then the sounds leap out of those boundaries to alien soundscapes that feel uncomfortable at moments.  The use of electronic instruments and experimental sounds combined with experimental compositions create a sense of otherworldliness in the film’s music.

Fantastic Planet / La Planete Sauvage Soundtrack on Discogs

Fantastic Planet is available to stream on HBOMax.


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