Gates-Heavy Metal’s First Webcomic: Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planeton March 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm
For those of you who don’t know about the film french animated film, Fantastic Planet–you are missing out. Fantastic Planet is my favorite movie–ever. When I was a child at about age 11, I caught the tail end of it on USA Network. I had no idea what it was and did not see it again until I was eighteen. I found it at a video store and just decided to rent it because my parents were out of town and my friends were coming over with some beers and a bag of pot—so I needed something trippy to watch. Well little did I know that no drugs were required for this movie. It blew my little mind. I was a dumb kid in a small town just reaching the cusp of manhood but this bizarre animated film ended up becoming the launching pad for my career. When I saw Fantsatsic Planet, I knew that my destiny was to make intelligent science fiction with trippy music, a deep well researched and carefully planned message with lots of stunning visuals.
And so I got two tattoos with the theme of Fantastic Planet and the rest is history…
Fantastic Planet is a French film (La Planète Sauvage, lit. The Savage Planet). It is a 1973 animated science fiction film directed by René Laloux a master of French animation, production designed by Roland Topor, written by both of them and based on the novel Oms en série, by the French writer Stefan Wul and animated at Jiří Trnka Studio. The film was an international production between France and Czechoslovakia and was distributed in the United States by Roger Corman voiced by many of Hanna Barbera’s voice talents from their 70’s cartoons. It won the special jury prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and like Heavy Metal is a cult classic, filled with ultra violence, nudity and ass kicking science fiction and a hell of a soundtrack.
The movie immediately drew comparisons to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Planet of the Apes (both the 1968 film and Boule’s 1963 novel). Today, the film can be seen to prefigure much of the work of Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) due to its palpable political and social concerns, cultivated imagination, and memorable animation techniques that some say are reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python shorts. It was the precursor to Heavy Metal and was a groundbreaking film that is timeless.
Fantastic Planet tells the story of “Oms”, human-like creatures, kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of blue giants called the “Draags”. The story takes place on the Draags’ planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from infancy to adulthood. It starts out with the death of his mother in a way that can be compared to the way a human child would accidentally kill a frog or insect. Terr manages to escape enslavement taking with him a Draag learning device used to educate the savage Oms — and begins to organize an Om revolt with a clan of savage humans. The Hieronymus Bosch like visuals and the imagination invested in the surreal creatures, landscape music and sound design, is intense and unforgettable.
Those in film history, widely regard the animated film as an allegorical statement on the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia under the direction of René Laloux, the incredible art of Roland Topor, and Alain Goraguer’s brilliantly complementary score. Fantastic Planet is an incredible tale of the survival of mankind, the power of the human spirit and the innovation of mankind to overcome even the worst of circumstances. Though in theory and philosophy, the intellectual capacity of Fantastic Planet, crushes the Heavy Metal movie, it was truly groundbreaking in the same light. It is well known by movie lovers and sci-fi geeks but the average man/woman may have never heard of this film simply because of its not your garden variety movie.
THE INFLUENCE ON GATES:
The influence Fantastic Planet had on me artistically and philosophically is immeasurable. Fantastic Planet, laid out my future right in front of me and I am so grateful for this film I cannot even express it into words. If you are a fan of Heavy Metal or psychedelic films then you need to see this movie. It is a combination of artistic brilliance presented in a unique way. What I mean by this is that it clearly pushed the boundaries of the conscious mind with the characters and the concept of the world in general. Just imagine if the human race were literally the equivalent of rats, and there was a more dominant being on the planet, that viewed us as we really were, animals who fear what they don’t understand and go to war with our brother’s tribe for trivial and often misconstrued ideological reasons that have no actual validation scientifically or factually. So influentially, this movie opened up the door for me to explore my philosophy of human existence and examine the deep underlying structure of our society, science, religion, technology, our history both theoretic and what is said to be proven fact.
I saw the Heavy Metal movie before I saw Fantastic Planet in its’ entirety. When I compare them I see a lot of similarities yet many differences. I guess the easiest way to describe Fantastic Planet in context is this: If Arthur C. Clarke and H.G. Wells got together and made a movie for Heavy Metal, it would be Fantastic Planet. It is loaded with deep intellectual undertones yet so visually stunning and such a trip in terms of music that the depth of the story is secondary.
Everyone I have shared this movie with has been blown away. Now I share it with you and I hope that you have the same reaction.
Enjoy the trip. I did.
A small sample of the movie…