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aka - Planete Sauvage, La
France 1973
Directed by
René Laloux
68 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Fantastic Planet

René Laloux's classic animation with an electronic score by Alain Goraguer is a head-trip very much of its time and to appreciate it most, mind-expanding substances would help.

With a style of hand-drawn animation recalling that of Terry Gilliam’s for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it conjures up a surreal extra-terrestrial world where giant blue aliens, the Draags, keep humans, called Oms as pets. Based on the novel "Oms In Series" by Stefan Wul, and made by Laloux with his collaborator, the Belgian writer, actor and artist, Roland Topor, it tells the story of a baby Om, Terr, who is rescued and reared as a pet by the daughter of the Draag prime minister who escapes captivity, taking with him the Draags' knowledge, and lead his downtrodden fellow Oms to a new land after the Draags decide to eliminate them.

The Biblical allusions are apparent whilst the Draags’ treatment of the Oms, was inspired by the Soviets’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 (the film began production in Czechoslovakia but Laolux and Topor were forced to relocate to Paris after the Soviet  invasion), although any totalitarian regime would fit the bill for the film is essentially an allegory of human history. Needless to say, it is a history of cruelty and destruction.

If inventive visually the film is narratively sluggish and though it won the Grand Prix at Cannes when it premiered in 1973 this reflects more of the spirit of the times than the film’s longer lasting appeal. Still, for animation buffs, who perhaps don’t need those mind-altering substances, the visual inventiveness and effective other-worldliness will probably be enough.

DVD Extras: Two Laloux short films - Les Escargots (1965) and Comment Wang-Fo Fut Sauvé (1987).

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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