Sunday, September 19, 2021

#2,618. Fantastic Planet (1973)


Director Rene Laloux’s animated film Fantastic Planet whisks us off to the planet Ygam, home to both the intelligent, oversized Draags and the tiny, humanoid Oms. To the Draags, Oms are either pets (for their young) or vermin (wild Oms hide in every corner of Ygam, and multiply much more rapidly than Draags).

When his mother is accidentally killed by playful Draag children, an Om infant named Terr (voiced by Eric Baugin) is taken in by Tiwa (Jennifer Drake), daughter of the Draag leader, Master Sinh (Jean Topart).

As he grows older, Terr (now voiced by Jean Valmont, who doubles as narrator) learns the ways of the Draags, including how to read their language. These skills prove useful when Terr escapes captivity and joins a tribe of wild Oms, which is in constant danger of being eradicated by their Draag overlords.

Though colorful and wildly imaginative, Fantastic Planet is also quite bleak; the abandoned park where the wild Oms reside is home to a number of dangerous creatures, from giant bird-like monsters that devour Oms by the dozens to plants that lure insects to their doom, not for food but for the mere sport of killing them. In one of the film’s more surprising moments, a baby reptile is devoured moments after it’s hatched… by the very creature we assumed was nurturing it!

While the story itself isn’t very complex (the Draags mistreat the Oms, who eventually rebel, and the threat of war between the two looms heavy in the final act), the visuals that Laloux conjures up throughout Fantastic Planet, regardless of how horrific they sometimes become, are what keep us watching.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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