Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fantastic Planet (1973)

(Trailer)
An interesting French-Czechoslovakian animation co-production written by Roland Topor
(the man behind The Tenant (1976) and Marquis (1989)), directed by Rene Laloux and brought to the USA by Roger Corman and his New World Pictures after it won a Grand Prix at Cannes. Following its short release, the film pretty much fell off the face of the earth and got forgotten, though it is was available on DVD for a time in the mid-90s. How much the dubbed English adds to or changes the original French version is unknown to this reviewer, as he has yet to watch a subtitled version. (The French title is La Planète sauvage, which actually translates into "The Savage Planet," so some deviation is likely.) Currently (June 2008) rumor has it that Fantastic Planet is due either to be remade or rereleased soon.
On a planet that obviously is earth long after some major catastrophe, human beings, called Oms, have been reduced to an existence comparable to intelligent mice, the planet now being dominated by the Drogs, huge humanoids of advanced intelligence. The film narrates the story of an Om taken in as a pet by a child Drog after his mother is killed by other Drog children playing with her as one does with a bug. (If the Om's voice sounds familiar, it's because it's supplied by Barry Bostwick, a good three years before he donned black stockings for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.) Accidentally gaining Drog knowledge by (initially) unintentionally connecting himself to the Drog child’s education headband which transfers all knowledge directly and permanently to the brain, the diminutive Rhodes Scholar eventually runs away. Taking the headband with him, he joins up with the wild Oms living in the city park. There he fights for and gains acceptance, only to be driven from the park with other survivors of both his and another enemy tribe when the Drogs decide to exterminate the little "pests." Taking refuge in a deserted Drog rocket factory, the now super-intelligent Oms build spaceships to fly to the moon, where they hope to set up a new life free of the deadly shadow of extermination by the Drogs. Succeeding their goal, the airborne Oms reach the moon only to discover that the satellite is the mystical fuck-pad of the Drogs, the location where the Master Race unite sexually for their reproduction and survival...
An anomalous, dreamlike curiosity, the movie's static animation serves only to emphasize its overall peculiarity. The scriptwriters let their imagination run wild, and more often than not the events extraneous to the story amaze as much as the film itself, despite the fact that the story is too full of holes and lapses in logic to really hold water. Probably a bit too slow and artsy for most people, Fantastic Planet is nonetheless a highly enjoyable curio indefinitely more interesting than the animated crap found on television that actually deserves both rediscovery and reappraisal. Look for it.

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