If you love science fiction, especially far, far-out science fiction, here’s something for you. Initially, I didn’t know what to expect when I popped Fantastic Planet into the DVD player: I only knew that it has a cult following and has long been considered a “psychedelic sci-fi masterpiece,” and that even its soundtrack, eerie and haunting, has a cult following.
I also learned from the DVD cover blurbs that it had been made in 1973 and that it was made in Prague by a Frenchman named René Laloux. And, from Wikipedia, I knew it was a rare example of so-called “stop motion animation.”
It took me about fifteen minutes of resisting its sheer weirdness before I felt myself being sucked into the strange world of the 40-feet-tall, blue-skinned, red-eyed Draags, of the planet Ygam, and the little human beings (Oms) that the Draags either played with or considered pests. The planet of the Draags is one strange place, populated with surreal and not-too-friendly animals and plants.
The story follows the little human character named “Terr,” who is at first kept as a pet by a young Draag named Tiva, but who, after learning the secrets of Draag brainpower, escapes to his fellow humans to help them.
While watching Fantastic Planet, I enjoyed the feeling of watching something truly imaginative, and really not knowing what would happen next. It does contain what can only be called some disturbing ideas and images, but somehow it left me thoughtful and strangely uplifted. It was made during the Cold War, when the seemingly invincible monolith of the Soviet Union dominated Czechoslovakia. So perhaps it’s an allegory, a commentary on human politics, the nature of rebellion, or human society. Or is it just a trippy cartoon? Would love to hear what you think!