A rather interesting movie choice today, and one that has been on my radar for a while now. The film is the 1973 animated movie, La Planète Sauvage, aka Divoká Planeta, aka Fantastic Planet.
Yes, this movie goes by at least three names.
Why so many names? Because the movie – which from here on out I will simply refer to as Fantastic Planet – is a French/Czechoslovakian production, so has a French name, a Czech name, and an English name.
Directed by René Laloux, and based on the novel Oms en série by Stefan Wul, Fantastic Planet is a dark sci-fi tale, aimed squarely at adults. Set on the planet, Ygam, the movie sees humans treated as animals and enslaved by a race of blue giants known as the Draags.
Prior to today, I have never watched Fantastic Planet, but I am familiar with the movie. It is regarded as a cult classic, with some iconic animation, and it has always intrigued me.
So, will I fall in love with the film, or will I find it truly terrifying? I guess I am about to find out, as I’m about ready to watch Fantastic Planet.
Watching Fantastic Planet
3mins – It is fair to say this film does not pull any punches. In the opening three minutes, a mother and her child are ‘toyed with’ by Draag children, resulting in the mother’s death. As openings go (especially animated ones), this is pretty bleak.
7mins – The baby has been taken away by another Draag, so that he can be kept as a pet. Yep, very bleak.
10mins – The animation in Fantastic Planet is so distinctive, and also so odd. It’s kind of what you would get if Yellow Submarine and King Rollo had a love child.
10mins – Remember King Rollo? I used to hate that cartoon. Self-entitled arse.
13mins – This movie is so weird. Did I unknowingly drop some acid with my breakfast this morning? I’m pretty sure I just had Weetabix, but I could be wrong.
17mins – Time is progressing differently between the two species. For the baby – which is now a toddler – years have passed, while for the Draag it is merely weeks. Oh, and I should point out that the baby/toddler is called Terr.
20mins 30secs – The Draag ‘plays’ with Terr. Although I am using ‘play’ when really I should be saying, ‘the Draag torments the living heck out of Terr’.
Is this what we do to our pets? When we continually throw a ball for our dog, or make our cat chase a bit of string, are we just frightening them into a bizarre state of mock-enjoyment? Do they just go along with the task to please us, in the hope that we will show them kindness in return?
Did I just get really deep?
I think I need to check what was in that box of Weetabix.
*Looks at the side of the box*
What the heck is riboflavin?!
Anyway, I’m now beginning to question all of my past interactions with animals. I’m also starting to question the validity of the relationship between Crystal Tipps and Alistair. She was clearly some vile tormentor.
Of course, I am being obtuse. This film is actually presenting an interesting reflection on human rights. I have taken the obvious track of comparing the way humans treat animals, but the story here could easily apply to the way in which humans treat other humans, particularly those of a different nationality or race.
And you just thought I was going to spend the entirety of this blog post talking about odd-ball cartoons of the past.
28mins – Terr has run away from the Draag, and has met another human. The humans in this movie are known as Oms.
32mins – You know, I’m not sure Terr is better off with the Oms – they all seem pretty scary.
35mins – Oh, bizarre sex scene alert! Bizarre sex scene alert! I think I’m about to watch some kind of animated orgy.
Hmm… not an orgy, but certainly the implication that lots of the Oms just had sex. The sound of a saxophone playing in the background pretty much implied that someone was having it off, plus this film was made in the 1970s.
My understanding is that everyone was doing it in the 1970s. At least, that’s what the Carry On films have led me to believe. Although, the Carry On films did try to convince me that Sid James was a sex symbol, and I’m not sure anyone would buy that.
37mins – What’s very interesting about Fantastic Planet is the way in which the Oms are depicted as animals. Even free of the Draags, the Oms are not necessarily the nicest beings on the planet. They revert to savage characteristics and come across as complete arseholes. Business as usual then?
42mins – Important plot point alert! When Terr escaped from the Draags, he took a piece of Draag technology with him. This technology is helping the Oms to learn about the Draags’ history, customs and language.
48mins – After discovering that the Draags intend to cull some of the Oms, Terr has travelled to a nearby colony to warn them. Great idea, but sadly the colony don’t believe him, and have promptly tied him up.
Maybe this is some kinky sex game. Once again, this is the 1970s. I expect Terr will have to chuck his car keys into a bowl in a minute, then prepare to have sex with a bunch of strangers. Then he will have to drink Babycham and play Twister. Or so I believe.
50mins – Oh, no sex party – instead, a mass cull begins. Oms are being gassed. This is actually really horrible.
53mins – You know, it’s not difficult to see the parallels between what is going on in this film, and important moments from our own history. The Holocaust is perhaps the most obvious parallel here and it is hard to watch.
53mins 30secs – A pair of Draags have tried to exterminate some of the fleeing Oms. The Oms have managed to kill one of the Draags. Brutal.
58mins – The body of the slain Draag has been found. There’s now talk amongst the Draag community of regulating the breeding patterns of the Oms. If I hadn’t made this clear before, this is a very dark movie. Very dark.
1hr 4mins – The Oms are planning to leave the planet of Ygam (I don’t blame them), via a pair of rocket ships.
They had best be quick, as the Draags are wiping them out. It’s like watching ants being exterminated. It’s not particular nice to see.
1hr 7mins – Having successfully left Ygam, the humans have landed on another planet, where they have discovered the Draags have a weakness. It’s all a bit strange and involves some headless statues, floating orbs, and meditation. Just go with it – I am.
1hr 8mins 30secs – Fearing their own mortality, the Draags have now called a truce, and have given the Oms a new place to call home. There will be no more killing and everyone can live in harmony – so long as they live on separate planets and don’t interact.
1hr 9mins – Oh, and apparently that’s the end of the movie. That ended pretty quickly.
Maybe it’s not really over, maybe my Weetabix is simply wearing off and I am coming back to reality? Or maybe I didn’t just watch a psychedelic animated movie from the 1970s, maybe I just passed out.
How long have I been out for? Is Donald Trump still President? Are we still in an endless loop of COVID-19 lockdowns? Has Disney finally released The New Mutants?!
Actually, don’t answer any of those questions – I don’t think I want to know the truth. Just hand me my Weetabix and leave.
Well, that was a very odd, yet very captivating movie. I felt uncomfortable and yet mesmerised in equal measure.
While it was pretty short in length, and is arguably not a movie to everyone’s tastes, it certainly got its point across. The film presented a simple tale, but one which quickly became an allegory for many situations from our planet’s past (and present).
Would I watch Fantastic Planet again? Probably not – but that is because I took what I needed from it, and I’m not sure a follow-up viewing would be necessary. However, this doesn’t take anything away from this being an important piece of film and one that has stood the test of time, despite the mind-bending animation.
Not one to show to kids, but there are certainly some adults who could do with giving it a go. Just don’t blame me if they get freaked out by the Draags, who are as scary as they look.
But not as scary (or as self-entitled) as King Rollo.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about Fantastic Planet. If you’re a fan of this film, or you simply want to let me know what you think of the movie, please post your comments below.
For more posts, check out the recommended reads below or take a look-see around It’s A Stampede!. You will find much to read and enjoy, unless of course you are the world’s biggest King Rollo fan. There’s nothing for you here.