It was a Saturday night after the election. News channels still depressed me. I channel surfed. It was after mid-night. I was getting sleepy. Just when I was ready to turn off the TV, I caught glimpse of a animation film. The surrealistic landscape attracted me. For the first minute or two, I thought maybe it was that short animation film made by Dali and never made it to the theater. As I watched the story unfold, the fantastic imagination of the film glued me to the TV set. I loved the fluid drawings, the strange plot, and the interesting character development. By then, I was convinced it couldn’t be by Dali because the story was too well developed and too coherent. 🙂
I fought very hard with the drowsiness and kept myself awake to watch the film till its finishing, which happened around 2am. Another amazing fact was the film was shown uninterrupted by commercial or infomercial. It was almost unheard of for late night TV program.
It is a science fiction story. On a planet where humans were kept as pets by a species that looked like blue giants. One such pet tapped into the knowledge device his master, a teenager female giant, was using to learn. This pet human’s name is Terr. As a specie, humans (called Oms) were constantly threatened by elimination because the blue giants (called Traags) considered Oms pests, like how we humans think of ants, I guess.
Terr eventually broke free from his master and because of his knowledge of Traggs culture and his ability to read and write in Traags language, Terr became the leader of the Oms (Knowledge is power! Yeah!). He led them into a revolution, fought for Oms right of survival. During an escape trip, they discovered the secret of Traags’ survival mechanism. Eventually Traags and Oms came to the negotiation table and managed to settle for a peace treaty.
There were many scenes and ideas that fascinated me. A few examples included: 1)The way Traags learn using a special headphone-like device; 2)The crystal grew on the planet after a rain, and how they could be shattered by the sound of a whistle. 3) the vicious warm like creature the Traags children tied onto Oms to fight each other like in gladiator games of the ancient Rome. 4) the headless stone giants merge with Traags consciousness prior to copulation. Etc. etc. etc.
When the movie was completed, I found out it was made by a Czech studio in Prague and it was broadcasted by a local education channel that serves only the Bay Area. The next day, I found out the name of the film and its origin. The Fantastic Planet was directed by Rene Laloux, written by Roland Topor and Laloux, based on a novel by Stefan Wul. It was Gran Prix winner at Cannes in 1973.
A couple of reviews and introduction on line:
–Animated sci-fi cult favorite ‘Fantastic Planet’ returns