Tuesday, September 8, 2015

La Planète Sauvage

The opening minutes of the film La Planète Sauvage are among the most startling and engaging scenes of any film of any genre. A young mother runs in terror from some unknown threat. This; as she attempts to shield her infant child from their potential attacker or attackers.  She is eventually taunted, herded and humiliated into submission by something of extreme. The exhausted mother falters and falls; dead from her brutally abusive physical and psychological torture. The child will survive to become the film’s protagonist.

Fantastic Planet (as it was titled in America) appeared in theaters forty plus years ago. This creation from the minds of director René Laloux and designer Roland Topor has amazed and informed for two generations now and is still thrilling in concept, storytelling and visually. The hand drawing; technically good, with a definitive roughness of line and grain is vastly appealing. It marries the surreal and the fantastic with modernity. Elements of Fantasy and Science Fiction combined with the strange and haunting score by composer Alain Goraguer is complete in execution; touching the emotional as well as the intellectual.

Nothing short of exceptional; Fantastic Planet was ground-breaking Cinema. The creation of this film was years before the development of computer generated imagery. Pixar and DreamWorks rule and inform the world of today’s animation. The dialogue of animation has changed so much in the digital era. But the hand still ruled in the times that Fantastic Planet appeared. It is prevalent throughout this marvel. On most levels it holds up into this era as an entertainment and as history. 

I was living in Washington DC when I first saw La Planète Sauvage. My friends and I had taken a bus across the city from South East to George Town in North West DC. We had been witness to the most radical film offered at the time. Had we also been the witness to the brave new future of cinematic artistry?  Standing outside the theater waiting for our return bus I studied a poster for an upcoming feature. The art work was interesting but most of the names of the contributors (other than Ron Howard) were unfamiliar. The name of this feature was American Graffiti; directed by some guy…George Lucas.  


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