About a year ago I wrote an article on animation for adults — that is, animated shorts, films, and series with mature appeal. Although I love children’s shows and movies, I’m always on the lookout for things made for an older audience. So when my friend posted the trailer for the French movie, Fantastic Planet (1973, René Laloux) on my Facebook wall, I knew I was going to love it.
Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage, directly translated to “Wild Planet”) takes place on the barren landscape of Ygam, a planet ruled by Draags – a humanoid and highly intelligent species of blue skin and marked size. In this dystopian world, humans, called “Oms” (a play on the French word “hommes,” meaning men) live in very small, primitive groups, and are regarded as animals by the Draags. The narrative opens when one young female Draag named Tiva adopts an orphaned Om baby, who she names Terr, as her pet, and follows his growth and maturation into an Om who seeks to escape captivity and oppression.
The film’s surrealist aesthetic calls to mind the paintings of fifteenth century painter Hieronymus Bosch, whose work similarly visited themes of primitive and sensual behaviors in humans. For Monty Python fans, the style of animation, which employs cut-out textures and colors manipulated like puppets (rather than fluid drawings), is instantly recognizable.
Thematically, the movie appeals much more to mid-century sensibilities, and its philosophy feels perhaps over-simplified, naïve, or idealistic to the 21st-century viewer. However, when considered in the context of the dictatorial Soviet and Nazi threats of the mid-20th century, it’s easy to understand how older viewers related to the ideas it presents.
For fans of The Holy Mountain, Superjail!, and equally-trippy existentialist works, I highly recommend Fantastic Planet. Even if you’re just craving something unique, this movie definitely satisfies. Check out the trailer if you’re interested —