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French film poster
|Directed by||René Laloux|
|Based on||Oms en série
by Stefan Wul
|Narrated by||Jean Valmont|
|Music by||Alain Goraguer|
Les Films Armorial
|Distributed by||Argos Films (French release)
New World Pictures (US release)
Fantastic Planet (French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta, lit. The Wild Planet) is a 1973 Franco-Czech allegorical cutout stop motion science fiction film directed by René Laloux, written by Laloux and Roland Topor. Topor additionally comlpleted the film's production design and was animated at Jiří Trnka Studio.
The film was an international co-production between companies from France and Czechoslovakia and was distributed in the United States by Roger Corman. The story, which shows humans living on a strange planet dominated by giant humanoid aliens who consider them animals, is based on the 1957 novel Oms en série by French writer Stefan Wul.
A working title while in development was Sur la planète Ygam (On the Planet Ygam), which is where most of the story takes place, but the actual title (the Fantastic/Savage Planet) is the name of Ygam's moon. The film won the special jury prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. It had a total of 809,945 admissions in France.
In the distant future, the gargantuan blue humanoid Draags have brought human beings (who are called Oms as a play on the French word for "man", Homme) from Earth to the planet Ygam, where they maintain a technologically and spiritually advanced society. They consider them animals, and while some Oms are kept as pets by Draags, others live in the strange wilderness and are periodically slaughtered by the Draags who wish to keep their population controlled. Draags have much longer lifespans than Oms, but reproduce much less.
When an Om mother is teased to death by three Draag children, her orphaned infant is found by Master Sinh, a key Draag leader, and his daughter Tiva, who keeps the boy as a pet and names him Terr. She loves Terr and is careful not to hurt him, but, instructed by her parents, keeps him under control, for example by giving him a collar that can pull him in any direction at Tiva's wish. She brings Terr to sessions in which she receives her education using headphones that transmit knowledge into her mind, and a defect in his collar allows him to receive the knowledge too. Around the time that Tiva grows into her teens and first performs Draag meditation, which allows the species to travel with their minds, she loses some interest in Terr, who has become a young man by now and acquired much Draag knowledge. He escapes into the wilderness, stealing Tiva's headphones.
He runs into a wild female Om, who cuts off his collar and introduces him to her tribe, which lives in an abandoned Draag park full of strange creatures and landscapes. He shows them how to use the headphones to acquire Draag knowledge and literacy, winning the right to do so in a duel. The literacy they gain allows them to read Draag writing announcing that the park will be purged of Oms, and, when the purge comes, many are slaughtered by Draag technology while many others escape, joining forces with another tribe. They are attacked by two Draag passers-by and manage to kill one of them before escaping to an abandoned Draag rocket depot, much to the outrage of Draag leaders. They live there for years, joined by many other Oms, and, due to the knowledge acquired from Terr's headphones, manage to adapt Draag technology, including two rockets; they hope to leave Ygam for its moon, the Fantastic Planet, and live there safe from Draags. When a large-scale Draag purge hits the depot and many Oms are being slaughtered, a group of Oms led by Terr uses the rockets to flee to the Fantastic Planet, where they discover large statues that Draags travel to during meditation and use to meet beings from other galaxies in a strange ritual that maintains their species. The Oms destroy some of the statues, threatening the Draags' existence; the genocide is halted on Ygam, and, facing a crisis, the Draags sue for peace. This leads to an era of peaceful coexistence between the two species, who now benefit from each other's way of thinking.
- Jean Valmont as adult Terr and the narrator
- Eric Baugin as Terr as a boy
- Jennifer Drake as Tiva
- Jean Topart as Master Sinh
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Fantastic Planet is recognisable for its surreal, psychedelic imagery, created by French writer and artist Roland Topor, who was the production designer and co-writer of the film. The landscape and lifeforms of Ygam are extremely strange, as are various aspects of Draag society, such as their meditation (which allows them to commune psychically with each other and different species and can lead to transformations of their shape and colour) and their technology (for example the various devices they use to slaughter Oms). The weird atmosphere of the film is enhanced by its soundtrack, composed by Alain Goraguer.
The relationship between Draags and Oms, which changes completely through the events of the film, can be seen as allegorical of the relationship between various groups of humans, as well as between humans and animals, drawing on the themes of racism and speciesism (supported by the final scene, in which a Draag child from the future is learning about the peace between Draags and Oms, while stroking a dog-like pet animal where Draag children would once have stroked a pet Om). In the film, it is the knowledge that Terr gains and brings to the Oms that allows them to become equals with the Draags, and Terr has to win a duel to prove that it is not wrong to use it. The ending, in which the violence is suddenly stopped and an era of peace begins, with both Draags and Oms deciding they have nothing to gain from mutual destruction, carries a hopeful message relevant to the Cold War period in which the film and its source novel were created.
- Deshominisation (II)
- Deshominisation (I)
- Le Bracelet
- Ten et Tiwa
- Maquillage de Tiwa
- Course de Ten
- Ten et Medor
- Ten et Tiwa Dormet
- Ten est Assome
- Conseil des Draags
- Les Hommes – La Grande Co-existence
- La Femme
- Mira et Ten
- Morte de Draag
- La Cite des Hommes Libres
- Bleed Or Burn Yourself
- Attaque des Robots
- La Longue Marche – Valse Des Statues
- Les Fusees
- Strip Tease
- Meditation des Enfants
- La Vielle Meurt
- Soul To Take
- Burnt-in English subtitles on Anchor Bay's USA DVD release spell the name of the blue-skinned species as "Draag"; the original novel the film is based on spells it as "Traag".
- In 2006, Eureka Entertainment released the film on DVD in the UK as #34 in their Masters of Cinema range. Unlike the Anchor Bay release, this uses an anamorphic widescreen transfer and newly translated subtitles which retain the "Draag" spelling. This version was released in Region 1 on October 23, 2007. In August 2010, Eureka released a restored high-definition transfer of the film on Blu-ray Disc, with special features including a collection of Laloux's short films, and a 27-minute documentary called Laloux sauvage. Eureka, a London-based company, has only produced the edition as a region B release.
- On October 23, 2007 Facets Video and Accent Cinema released a newly restored version of the film on DVD, including many bonus features never available before. It is different from the version released by Eureka.
- In June 2016, The Criterion Collection released the film on Blu-ray disc and DVD.
References in other works
Madlib cites the film as an influence, using visuals from the film on his album covers and samples of the soundtrack on his songs. The song "Come On Feet", on his album The Unseen, contains many samples from the movie, including the recurring melody of the main theme.
Scenes from the film are used by The Gaslamp Killer for the music video "Shattering Inner Journeys".
- "Fantastic Planet (A)". British Board of Film Classification. 29 May 1974. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
- "La Planète Sauvage (Fantasic Planet) @ BCDB". BCDB. 2012-11-16.
- Stephenson, Ralph (1967). "15. Filmographies". In Peter Cowie. Animation in the Cinema. International Film Guide. London: A. Zwemmer. p. 173.
- "Festival de Cannes: Fantastic Planet". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
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