Fantastic Planet (La planete sauvage)

Fantastic Planet

We must try to make peace.

I’ve seen my fair share of animated films over the years, both on and off the list, but I think I’ve just seen probably the single weirdest animated film I’ve ever encountered (though Heaven and Earth Magic might also qualify). Fantastic Planet is a French/Czech co-production, and frankly I have no idea how the two of them agreed to get together and create this film. I have even less an idea of how the pitch meeting must have gone. Still, for as weird as it is, it had charm; just a really, really weird charm. And even then, it was mostly because it was animated.

Humans, here known as Oms, are living on a planet with an alien species known as Traags (or Draags, depending on your phonetic translation). The Traags are a hundred times larger than humans, which appear on the planet as small as ants, and the Traags frequently keep Oms as pets. One such Om, called Terr by his owner, eventually grows smarter thanks to a Traag headphone device that beams information directly into the brain, and he runs away with the device, which he uses to educate other wild Oms until they are eventually intelligent enough to spark a rebellion. The story is actually quite interesting, and manages to get itself across well enough, while also containing more than a few moral questions and metaphors on things like class relations and animal rights, but that wasn’t why I was watching. Along with the story, I was watching mainly for the animation. So, how was the animation? Kinda disjointed, to be honest. For instance, Wikipedia lists the film as a “cutout stop motion” animated film, and I include the label in quotes for lack of a better way to describe the animation used in Fantastic Planet. It was detailed cutout stop motion, but it was still very noticeable, especially whenever characters were talking. I will say, though, the imagination used to create the alien planet and all its odd flora and fauna had to have been pretty expansive.

I don’t really know if this is worth a recommendation or not. It’s charming, yes, and colorful, but it fell a little too far into the uncanny valley for me, which is not a level of weird any film or work of art should aspire to. It came off as a strange mix of creepy and quaint, and even with the film clocking it at just over an hour, I’m not sure the whole thing was worth it. I will give the director, Rene Laloux, a lot of credit however, if for nothing else but his sheer vision in bringing the source material to life. Like so many others, I can see why this made the list, but now that I’ve seen it, I don’t see myself watching it again anytime soon.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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