Renѐ Laloux’s 1973 animated classic Fantastic Planet (La Planete Sauvage) gets a DVD release.
On the planet of Ygam, giant blue aliens named Draags keep humans, named Oms, as pets. We follow the life of one Om, named Terr (voice by Eric Bougin as a boy and Jean Valmont as an adult), who breaks free of his captors and meets other Oms trying to survive and eek out an existence beyond the city walls.
The animation style of Fantastic Planet is quite lovely. It has a surrealist and almost tactile feel, and though a slightly different style feels a little reminiscent of the animated sections of Monty Python. This especially true of the creatures who live on Ygam, all weird bulbous forms and are very entertaining and give the film a smattering of humour. Fantastic Planet is science fiction at its finest; a wonderful feat of the imagination, creating a world full of flights of fancy, though with a story and themes grounded in a very human reality.
It’s interesting seeing humans trapped in this form. Our domination of the planet and most of the animals that exist on it means rarely do we live in fear from more advanced beings. The Oms are treated as sub-life forms, which they are when put against the superior not only in size but also intellect Draags. They’re treated either as pets or vermin, to be used as entertainment or to be destroyed. The film starts off in quite a shocking way, with a mother and her baby being played with and tortured for the vague entertainment of some child Draags. It’s a disturbing sight, the mother completely helpless and in obvious distress and her lack of screams only making it more upsetting. But the film reflects our own selves back at us, showing human nature and our lack of care for the other beings living on our own planet.
Remember when DVDs were still a relatively new form and releases would advertise that one of their extras were an interactive menu? It’s a stupid and pointless boast but one that this release of Fantastic Planet can’t even scrape together. There are absolutely no extras on this release, and it just goes straight into the movie once you put the disc in. It’s disappointing as a film so well regarded as this surely has plenty of interesting facts and interviews waiting to be conducted to illuminate it further.
Fantastic Planet is a classic French animation that you should seek out if you have any interest at all. This release is let down by a complete lack of extras.
FANTASTIC PLANET (1973) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: RENÉ LALOUX / SCREENPLAY: RENÉ LALOUX, ROLAND TOPOR / STARRING: JENNIFER DRAKE, ERIC BAUGIN, JEAN TOPART, JEAN VALMONT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW