Thursday, 24 March 2011

Review - Fantastic Planet (1973)





Review - Fantastic Planet (1973)



Fantastic Planet is a 1973’s animated film directed by René Laloux.

Much like Jane Fonda’s Barbarella, the film is influenced by its era’s culture (early 70's). The production of the film was worked on by Roland Topor, an artist who specialised in surrealism.

One looked at this work for a number of reasons. The film is strongly characterised by its Surrealistic imagery, which one will be looking at in further detail later. Furthermore, Despite having a somewhat generic storyline, aspects of the film draw some interesting comparisons with Biblical and Historical events.

The story is written collaboratively by René Laloux and Roland Topor and based on the novel by Stefan Wul. It depicts a world within the future where humans, known in the film as “Oms” are taken and used by pets for a race known as the Draags.
The comparison between the Oms and Draags is somewhat close. The Draags contain similar human physical characteristics. However, their size is significantly greater then the Oms. Furthermore, skin colour and some features such as their ears and hair are unalike to Oms. However, despite their similar characteristics, the two species can still be distinguished easily due to the different attitude and behaviour of both species. One will be aiming to bring that particular aspect into one's project.



Fig.1 Size Comparisons


In a nutshell, the film’s plot is centred on an Om named Terr, who starts off as a child adopted as a plaything by the daughter of the Draag’s prime minister. Later on in Terr’s life, he manages to escape and join a colony of deserter Oms who work against the tyrannical Draags. Leading the Oms into a rebellion against them.

It can be interpreted that some biblical comparisons can be made with this film, particularly with the Old Testament’s Exodus. Terr can be compared to in the same way as Moses, as he leads the Jews to a new land, away from their Egyptian oppressors. As Terr leads the Oms to a new land. Furthermore, there are some more recent comparisons that can be made with Nazis in the Draags for a number of areas; Draags more oppressive nature and obvious technological advantage to Oms can be compared to the view of the Nazis technological advantage had over the allies. Furthermore, the attitude of the Draags as being a superior race can be compared to Nazi ideology of master race. As well as the nature of “de-omonisation” within the film draws similarities to the gassing of the Jews within the Holocaust.

The theme of the film is very surrealistic in nature. TvGuide’s Movie review of Fantastic Planet describes the look as “Monty Python crossed with Eastern-European art animation and the images have a timelessly bizarre quality.”(McDonagh, 2008) Indeed, the animation's artistic direction is most likely due to the influence of surrealistic artist Roland Topor, who worked on the films production as aforementioned, as well as the cultural influence of the early 70's.



Fig.2 Oms managing to kill a Draag, emphasis on use of line and tone, along with contrasting and somewhat of a strict bold colour in the Draag's eyes


In terms of technique within the film, the animation is not quite fluid. However this quirkiness works well for the film, as it provides the animation some odd character, fitting very well within the atmosphere of the film. The New York Time's Review of Fantastic Planet describes "The technique itself is fascinating. Instead of using the traditional method of drawing on acetate, the ingenious producers have sketched on cut-out and hinged paper. This comparative stiffness of movement, instead of the usual animated flash, gives a dignity and eerie depth to an adaptation by directors Rene Laloux and Roland Topor of Stefan Wul's novel, 'Ome En Serie.'"(Thompson 1973) On some level this adds another level of depth to the films surrealistic nature. It's subtle, but works very well.

The film's somewhat organic environment is influenced by a number of people. Empire Online’s Review of Fantastic Planet describes “this French-Czech production’s basic animation style is transformed into something wonderful by its organic landscapes and nightmarish creatures — a fusion of Dalí, Hieronymous Bosch and Terry Gilliam that’s truly surreal rather than plain weird.”(Morrison, 2008) The composition, especially when viewing establishing shots of environment within the film draws some strong comparison with surrealistic paintings. Objects such as the Draags' war machines used within the last acts seem inspired by renaissance-era work, possibly added in for good measure.



Fig.2 Environments


The music was produced by Alain Goraguer, a French musician who is acclaimed for winning the Eurovision song contest in 1965. He composed and recorded the entire soundtrack for Fantastic Planet.
The music, strongly influenced by its era, is used generously throughout the entire film. Segments like scenes of conflict between the Oms and Draags do well in emphasising the tension between them both.

Overall one found Fantastic Planet to be a odd but unique and interesting animation. As a story it was generic and dull in nature. However, it's organic and also surrealistic environments and props are memorable. Individual characters' personalities fall short but as a whole, in terms of two species, they work well. The music adds a mood to certain scenes. Also the influence of certain people and events are evident within the artistic direction and personality within the film.


Illustrations

Fig.1
Size Comparisons
Direct Link: http://hotmovienow.com/images_link/corobatu.jpg
(Accessed on: 24/03/2011)

Fig.2
Oms managing to kill a Draag
Direct Link: http://i.imgur.com/RYcZt.jpg
(Accessed on: 24/03/2011)

Fig.3
Environments
Direct Link: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Amps0Yk4dZ4/TSY_GTFRH5I/AAAAAAAAAHU/1-dSmDDOLpc/s1600/La_Plan_te_Sauvage_1.JPG.jpeg
(Accessed on: 24/03/2011)



Bibliography

TVGuide
Title: TV Guide’s Movie Guide - Fantastic Planet Review
Date: September 9, 2008
Author: Maitland McDonagh
Direct Link: http://movies.tvguide.com/fantastic-planet/review/114350
(Accessed on: 24/03/2011)

The New York Times
Title: Fantastic Planet (1973) Fantastic Planet' Is Animated Feature
Date: December 19, 1973
Author: Howard Thompson
Direct Link: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9B01E6DF1039E73ABC4152DFB4678388669EDE
(Accessed on: 24/03/2011)

Empire Online
Title: Empire’s Fantastic Planet Movie Review
Date: September 9, 2008
Author: Alan Morrison
Direct Link: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?DVDID=117395
(Accessed on: 24/03/2011)

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