La Planète Sauvage AKA Fantastic Planet (1973)

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A movie whose English subtitles are worth hunting down (as opposed to trusting a dub). The animated La Planète Sauvage concerns an intensely psychedelic future world where humans, known as Oms (a pun on hommes, men), are kept as pets or hunted like pests. Their masters, the gigantic Traags (those blue guys), never forget what they learn, live for centuries (one Traag season is 5 years) and have the ability to influence their surroundings through meditation- wickedly trippy meditation.

Like this.
An Om narrator, named Terr, is orphaned as an infant when his mother is killed by Traag youths. Terr grows up alongside his doting Traag owner and eventually learns French from her. Benefitting from the knowledge of his mind-blowingly colorful and melty captors, Terr is able to escape to and ingratiate himself with a society of wild humans. A series of bizzare creatures dreamed up for Terr's journey reinforces the film's feral whimsy.

The wild Om that Terr meets up with are rather like the Rats of NIHM (1982), both in the style they are animated in and that they're being systematically eradicated by a larger species. Unlike the Rats of NIHM, however, these Om are more like tiny dirty hippies- chilling and and dancing and screwing, burrowed inside a colossal tree trunk.

Sounds OK.

Like the good French lilliputians they are, they rebel, retaliating against their would-be exterminators. Is there room for peace? Can mutual coexistence be navigated when two species fundamentally misunderstand one another? La Planète Sauvage is notable for posing challenges to animal cruelty and questioning, in this manner, dominance over other forms of life- elucidating new meaning of the word "savage" (or "sauvage" depending on your Franc-affinity).

A few more reasons to seek out this animated masterpiece: 
  • Its playful use of language, especially when the Om hear the Draag's scientific terms, is reminiscent of the slang in A Clockwork Orange (except with French instead of Russian and Ukrainian)
  • Its funky if not downright porn-groovish soundtrack doesn't let you forget its early 70s origin ("Mayfieldesque" is what I'd call it - don't worry, there's a bongo at one point)
  • Moreover, Madlib says the soundtrack had a big influence on him (sample source for much of the first Quasimoto album, The Unseen)
  • The landscapes, some of which are straight-up Terry Gilliam animation and others which are that but mixed with Hieronymus Bosch and a little Dali

The movie was so good it makes me want to go on Amazon right now and buy the novel [Oms en Série (Oms by the Dozen), Stephan Wul, 1957], but as of yet there is no english translation. If you're bilingual and love sci-fi and/or psychedelia, then I've got your graduate thesis topic right here. In the meantime, this French-Czechoslovakian joint is out on DVD and around the internets in various forms. And, I guess, I'll read more Philip K. Dick to fulfill this need of thoughtfully insane sci-fi. At least until I learn French.

1 comment:

  1. You'd be happy to know that an English translation to the book was released last year.