Based on French science fiction novelist Stefan Wul's Oms en Serie
("Oms by the Dozen"), René Laloux's La Planète Sauvage
(its title changed to Fantastic Planet
for the U.S. release) paints an animated tale of humans kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of blue humanoid giants called Traags. The story takes place on the Traags' planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from infancy to adulthood, when he escapes his subjugation with a Traag learning device with which to educate the savage Oms and incite them to revolt. As a French-Czech coproduction, this story had much resonance for its makers as an allegory of Czechoslovakia's invasion by Russian troops in the late '60s, and had to be completed in Paris due to political pressure. While the story does not distinguish itself in the annals of science fiction, the imagination invested in the surreal backdrops, with its eerie creatures and landscapes, does. The animation technique--moving paper cutouts across backgrounds--contributes to the overall feeling of other-worldliness. Fantastic Planet
won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973. --Jim Gay
From the Studio
René Laloux's mesmerising psychedelic sci-fi animated feature won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is a landmark of European animation. Based on Stefan Wul's novel Oms en série [Oms by the dozen], Laloux's breathtaking vision was released in France as La Planète sauvage [The Savage Planet]; in the USA as Fantastic Planet; and immediately drew comparisons to Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Planet of the Apes (both the 1968 film and Boule's 1963 novel). Today, the film can be seen to prefigure much of the work of Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) due to its palpable political and social concerns, cultivated imagination, and memorable animation techniques. Fantastic Planet tells the story of "Oms", a human-like species, kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of blue giants called "Draags". The story takes place on the Draags' planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from infancy to adulthood. He manages to escape enslavement from a Draag learning device used to educate the savage Oms — and begins to organise an Om revolt. The imagination invested in the surreal creatures, music and sound design, and eerie landscapes, is immense and unforgettable. This print includes the early LaLoux short “The Snails”.