Sunday Cinema: Fantastic Planet/La Planète Sauvage


My parents took me to see this movie when I was really little- like, so little I had a hard time keeping up with the subtitles. We went to the IFC theater in downtown Manhattan, a theater that still shows absolutely lovely 35mm screenings of older films, and this was one hell of a trip for a middle schooler. To be honest, it scared the living crap out of me, I left that theater clutching my mom's hand tightly, terrified and in need of a giant pretzel.

 It took a revisiting of the film when I was 12 or so for me to really get it. This is juuuuuust when I started learning about surrealism 1. because I was wading in the adolescent soup of that teenage precursor to true self-discovery and 2. because I was too afraid to actually try drugs and get it over with. I've counted Roland Topor, who designed this film, as one of my favorite filmmakers since that intial rediscovery because, if anthing, this film just proves his genius.

Here's an incredibly roughly hewn summary of the film: The story takes place in another world, a world where humans are vastly subservient to humanoid alien beings called Traags. On the Traag planet (which is crawling with fabulous plant and animal life á la Hieronymus Bosch), humans or "oms" are treated as pets or vermin by the Traags, depending on which have been domesticated. The film follows Terr (a play on the French word Terre, meaning "earth"), a human who is raised as a pet by a well-to-do Traag child. As the film goes on, Terr breaks with his domesticated life and returns to his "roots" as a human being after becoming educated through a Traag learning device.

Two sensory things about this movie kick my ass:
1. It was HAND DRAWN. Damn film took 5 years to make, although that also had to do with the filmmaking process getting interrupted by the then-Sovet-occupied Czech government.
2. The music is absolutely incredible. Composed by Alain Goraguer, it's spooky and sexy in all the right ways: a jazz take on sci-fi. I bought the soundtrack on vinyl a few months ago and I play it when I want my environment to feel kinda syrupy and mysterious, like I'm unaware that something is hiding behind a corner.

Planet is one of those films where you need to sit down in a dark room and just let it happen, so go:


  1. I've seen this movie some years ago; that's probably one of the most psychedelic animation we can find ! The story is really interesting. For me, it represents somehow the way we can treat animals; putting the humans in the position of simple animals as more impact then.

    Couleur Spleen.

  2. So fantastic - thanks for going into some films on the blog, I truly enjoy it.



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