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- Director: René Laloux
- Writers: René Laloux & Roland Topor
- Distributor: Argos Films & New World Pictures
- Released: December 6, 1973
- Runtime: 75 minutes
- Availability: Streaming on HBO Max and My Family Cinema. On DVD print. Purchasable on Amazon, I Tunes and other stores.
Film Is Civil Rights Allegory
On Ygam, human beings are known as Oms and they're considered either vermin or house pets by the ruling Draag. The story of Terr unfolds from his life as Om pet to his eventual escape, where he meets his kind living in the wild. Terr eventually takes the path of the oppressed: revolution.
Terr, the Om protagonist, is adopted by Tiwa’s family—members of the Draag race—and is taken in as Tiwa’s pet. He's nothing more than a tiny plaything to be fed, clothed, and played with; doing anything his benevolent master fancies. As Tiwa matures, so does Terr. This leads to his exodus born of boredom and solitude.
Wild Oms Seen as Animals
He sets out with a trinket: a tuition device that permanently uploads Draag knowledge into his mind and with that descends into a carefully charted out chaotic exploit into the unique eco-system of Ygam where he meets the so-called vermin that Draag’s detest: Wild Omms.
Book vs Movie
Let’s dive into obvious differences. First off, meditation wasn’t in the book. That said, the psychic practice gave the Draags an alien vibe as opposed to their human disposition in the book.
Meditation Only in Movie
In Fantastic Planet, Terr and his rapidly populating kind (since one Draag week is a year in Om time) are seen building rockets and setting course for a satellite in Ygam’s orbit. It is later discovered—much to Om dismay—that the satellite is a free-for-all orgy for meditating Draags.
In Oms en série, boats are in place of the shuttles. Terr and the Oms cross the waters of their adopted planet and unsurprisingly encounter sea monsters along the way.
Different Origin Story
Lastly, the book talks about how the Oms started out on earth and evolved so much that they had nowhere else to go but the beginning: their primitive selves. We are not given this backstory in the film.
Instead, we're left to speculate that the tech savvy Draags took pity on the Oms and ferried them across the galaxy to give them a life they thought suited them: life as leashed pets.
Film Not Just About Aliens
The film was ahead of its time, both in its underlying themes and Roland Topor’s art. The film brought all of Wul’s work to life, blending 2D and 3D into the novelty of Ygam.
Draags are Metaphor for Unchecked Power
You are put in the Om’s shoes and question endless possibilities, one where homo sapiens aren’t at the top of the food chain. What really distinguishes us from the Draag?
The film subtly plants intrusive triggers in our minds (much like Tiwa’s tuition device) which leads us to wonder what we'd really do on Planet Ygam Also, are the Draag merely an inverted version of our species through Wul’s, Laloux’s and Topor’s pinholes?
Need for Equality
The film is neither Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek nor George Lucas’ Star Wars. Still, this little gem embodies heart, soul and the scientific mind of one Pierre Pairault (aka Stephan Wul).
Fantastic Planet tells the story of mankind all too well. A resilience, a hunger for knowledge and a tenacity for revolution. Terr reminds us that, whether we are in a far-off dystopian planet or on big blue that all lives are equally worth living, regardless of the color of our skin.
Don’t Watch with Your Kids!
Fantastic Planet does not shy away from full frontal nudity; albeit it’s frequency it is never sexual. It’s rather logical.
Although, there was one scene where giant nude sculptures were duet dancing and were shot down by Omms. Yeah, it’s as unsettling to write about as it was to watch.
Memorable Psychedelic Soundtrack
Alan Goraguer combined soul, jazz and funk to create a freaky psychedelic soundtrack. The music went so well with the scenes in the movie. There were times when the music was soft and tender to contrast with scenes of violence and conflict.
My favorite tracks are "Déshominisation (I)" and "Déshominisation (II)," which put your mind at ease even if you’re looking at Draag faces. Urgh! They still creep me out.
GRADE: I’ll Give it a B
Time and time again we’ve learnt that for a film to become a masterpiece, dramatic irony is a key component. In short not all of our burning queries have to be cleared.
That said, I don’t think I can forgive the director for overlooking the importance of Tiwa’s and Terr’s relationship, a reunion would have been nice.
Grand Prix Special Jury Prize Winner (Cannes)
All in all, it was great. To the very last atom. It definitely earned the Grand Prix Special Jury Prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival
Were there parts I wish were adapted from the book? Yes. Do I feel like a sequel or even a trilogy are in order? No doubt.
Do you really want to watch It in the first place? You definitely need to, especially if you're a diehard sci-fi fan, or want to watch the trippiest adult film of your life!
© 2022 Sean M Pertet