Fantastic Planet

René Laloux, France/Czechoslovakia, 1973, 72 min.

Fantastic Planet opens with a shocking scene of the tables turned on humanity. A woman, half-naked and terrified, carrying a baby, runs from unseen enemies. At every turn giant hands push her and torment her while she tries to get to safety.

The animation is unique. At first glance amateur and raw, but after watching for a short time the detail and care put into the production creep up on you. This dark, disturbing, and fantastic tale syncs up perfectly with the style and design of the planet and its inhabitants. A planet where humans are kept as pets by giant aliens, and those that escape are exterminated like cockroaches.

The film reminds me of a 70s Prog-rock album. The music is dark instrumental rock, and the animators of this film could have designed Blue Oyster Cult album covers. But the film is more than the design.

The story of the way society treats it’s smallest members is thoughtful, important, and not at all preachy. And the depiction of an advanced species is intelligent and provoking. The whole film, both style and substance, is influential. Fantastic Planet (more aptly called by its literal title: The Savage Planet) is a product of its time that was so visionary that it is still ground-breaking today.

This film wins the award “Strangest Duel” for two of the escaped humans fighting to the death using lizard-like creatures tied to their bodies as their weapons.

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