Fantastic Planet (“La Planète sauvage”), by René Laloux
Fantastic Planet recounts a war between the Oms and the alien Draags, on a strange and colourful planet. With Topor’s drawings and Goraguer’s music, this psychedelic pop-fable is an allegory of civilisation and barbarism.
Laloux and Topor, the aliens
René Laloux (1929-2004) began his career in animation at the psychiatric clinic in La Borde, where he organized painting, puppetry and shadow-puppet workshops from 1956 to 1960. Fantastic Planet (1973) was his first feature film, produced in collaboration with Roland Topor, cartoonist, scriptwriter and heir to literary and pictorial surrealist traditions.
René Laloux would go on to co-direct Time Masters (“Les Maîtres du temps”) (1981) with cartoonist Mœbius and Gandahar with Caza (1987). In 1996, he published Those Moving Drawings (“Ces dessins qui bougent”), on the history of animated cinema.
A great pop film
In the colourful landscapes of Fantastic Planet, the Oms, humans reduced to pets, rebel against their masters the Draags, gigantic humanoids with blue skin whose existence is centred on meditation.
This science fiction story, one of the first animated films for adults, is a reflection on slavery, revolt, and emancipation through access to knowledge.
Driven by Topor’s nightmarish, psychedelic visions and Alain Goraguer’s progressive electronic music, the work remains a fascinating cinematographic UFO.
A cut-paper planet
Born of a collaboration between René Laloux and Roland Topor, Fantastic Planet (1973) was one of the first French animated films. Drawn in pastel shades of pencil, the fantastic universe imagined by Topor is animated using a paper-cut technique.
“Instead of using cut paper that we handle like a puppet, we re-created the characters each time, like with cellulose animation, but on paper,” explains René Laloux. Thus, all the graphic qualities of Topor’s drawings remain intact: crosshatching, washes, etc. As a result, the budget and working time increased: 25 people were employed for 4 years to create the 1073 drawings. “
Czech Studios at Cannes
Produced in the Jiří Trnka studios of Krátký Film in Prague, Fantastic Planet was co-produced with Czechoslovakia, for budgetary as well as aesthetic reasons, as the country had a large number of animation specialists.
In 1973, the film won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Trieste Science Fiction Festival (Italy) as well as the Animation Grand Prize and the Gold Medal in Atlanta (USA).
Fantastic Planet (“La Planète sauvage”) (1973) is distributed internationally by the Institut français.
The Institut français offers a catalogue of over 2,500 titles, enabling the French cultural network and its partners to screen French films around the world.
Having recently been digitally restored, the film was showcased at the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival as part of the “René Laloux/Roland Topor” theme.