Fantastic Planet – Rene Laloux – 1973

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Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet is a film that was once surrounded in much mystery for me. I remember being a child, in a hotel with my cousin for the wedding of another cousin. We were watching USA Up All Night a nightly program hosted by Gilbert Godfried or Rhonda Shear. They showed crazy films with no rhyme or reason as to what they programmed but it was generally weird.

This night we happened into an animated film with giant blue people and fighting animals and all types of weirdness. My mom came into the room and made us turn it off because the people were naked.

For years I would ask people if they had ever seen that animated film with the giant blue people and no one knew what I was talking about. In fact, it was not until I actually discovered the DVD did I know what the film was called. I saw the image on the cover and some great mystery of my life had been solved. I took it home and watched for the first time in its entirety.

Mind Blown. I was introduced to Rene Laloux, one of the best animated filmmakers ever. This film is so beautiful and trippy and humane. The film is about a planet of Traags, giant blue people who keep humans as pets. Humans also live in the parks as wild animals, who are sometimes exterminated and gassed.

The film begins with a woman running from a giant Traag and being killed, leaving her child behind. A young girl Traag, Tiwa finds the baby human and keeps it as a pet. Soon she has a collar for it that keeps it from running away. Tiwa and Terr get along very well, and through a glitch in Terr’s electrical collar he can listen in on Tiwa’s headset learning sessions. So Terr learns the Traag history and nature of their civilization.

One of the main reasons this film is so effective is the portrayal of humans as pets to creatures like us. Virtually any audience member can identify with the predicament of Terr and the other humans. Rarely are humans portrayed in such a way in films so as to show us in a common predicament. Unfortunately almost all if not all of the humans in the story are Caucasian.

Sometimes the film can get a little bogged down in politics but for the most part the plot skips along fairly well from Terr’s escape to the siege of the park and on to refuge in the human rocket yard. The music is sufficiently trippy and the images are colorful and well rendered. The hand drawn animation is some of the best you will ever see. Occasionally, there are strange asides, such as the whistle crystals, or the tree who smashes birds and these details add life to the strange world of The Fantastic Planet.

This film has a great message about living together peacefully but its so much more than a bunch of hippie crap. It is an artistic triumph of emotionally charged world building where the viewer is both transported to a world strange and alien yet the themes are recognizable and pertinent. And as amazing as this film is its not even the best of Laloux’s films.

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2 Responses to “Fantastic Planet – Rene Laloux – 1973”

  1. just a question: what about the illustrations above ? Where does it come from ?

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