René Laloux’s mesmerising psychedelic sci-fi animated feature won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is a landmark of European animation. Based on Stefan Wul’s novel Oms en série [Oms in Series / Oms by the Dozen], Laloux’s breathtaking vision was released in France as La Planète sauvage [The Savage Planet]; in the USA as Fantastic Planet; and immediately drew comparisons to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Planet of the Apes (both the 1968 film and Boule’s 1963 novel). Today, the film can be seen to prefigure much of the work of Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) due to its palpable political and social concerns, cultivated imagination, and memorable animation techniques.
La Planète sauvage tells the story of “Oms”, human-like creatures, kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of blue giants called “Draags”. The story takes place on the Draags’ planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from infancy to adulthood. He manages to escape enslavement from a Draag learning device used to educate the savage Oms — and begins to organise an Om revolt. The imagination invested in the surreal creatures, music and sound design, and eerie landscapes, is immense and unforgettable.
Widely regarded as an allegorical statement on the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, La Planète sauvage was five years in the making at Prague’s Jiri Trnka Studios. The direction of René Laloux, the incredible art of Roland Topor, and Alain Goraguer’s brilliant complementary score (much sampled by the hip-hop community) all combine to make La Planète sauvage a mind-searing experience.