Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fantastic Planet (1973)

     The Fantastic Planet (1973) [D: Rene Laloux] Animated movie about the rebellion of the Oms (descendants of Earth space explorers) against the Draags (oversize blue-skinned, red-eyed humanoids). It drags. And the minimal animation in a style compounded of Hieronymus Bosch and semi-realism doesn’t help. This tape is apparently taken from an old print of the movie; the sound quality and colour are terrible. The movie was made in Czechoslovakia, hence the highly experimental style of animation and the themes of the story. It’s not at all fanciful to imagine the Oms as the Czechoslovaks, the Draags as the Soviets, and the domesticated Oms as the puppet rulers installed by the Soviets.
     Story: An Om baby is adopted as a pet by a Draag girl; he uses the teaching/study device to learn as much as he can about Oms, Draags, and the planet’s ecology. He’s tossed out of the park, and is rescued by a wild Om female. His knowledge of the Draags persuades the wild Oms to accept him. They kill a Draag, which prompts the Draags to attempt extermination of the Oms. However, the Oms figure out how to reactivate  a couple of rockets at an abandoned rocket base, and rebuild some weapons. The subsequent war threatens to destroy both Oms and Draags, so there is a last-minutes decision to make peace.
     This could have been a great movie. I think large parts of the movie/story are missing, it's incomplete. The fact that running time is only 73 minutes is one clue. The absence of character development is another, yet character is obviously a driving force: how else could the pet boy overcome the prejudices of the wild Om tribe? There are passages that are obviously meant to explain the backstory of both Oms and Draags, but there are neither logical nor psychological links to the main story line. To say the dialogue is stilted pays it a compliment.
     Recommended only for people who are interested in the history of SF and animated movies. The story is I think very much of its time and place, an aftershock of the Cold War (which would linger another couple of decades), and an example of the highly experimental cinema of the East Bloc. *

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