A Life of Film + [70s]

Fantastic Planet (1973)



A constant barrage of overpowering weirdness without any respite. At first the shoddy 70s animation and production values are a little jarring, but the movie will very soon mesmerize you in an almost hypnotic embrace. I shudder to think what would happen if we were treated to a high budget modern remake. I can only dream.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The story is very simple, and its themes are handled with all the finesse of a high school student who has just walked out of his first philosophy class. For some reason however, that doesn't really matter. The film has a powerful dream-like aspect that is rare. You know the type. The sort of movie that buries itself deeply into your subconscious, staying there for years, and popping into your train of thought at random times. Movies like Eraserhead or Santa Sangre that at the time seem like a disjointed mess refuse to leave your head and even though it was only just now that I finished watching Fantastic Planet, I have no doubts that it will stay in my hot little head for a good long while.The film moves along at a steady pace, building exceptional atmosphere with a minimalistic soundtrack and cheap sound effects typical of the era's sci-fi. While the execution is about what you'd expect from a 70s animated movie, the art design transcends the evident technical constraints, and that really is the source of the movies strength. So you've just watched a subtitled movie. And now you're thinking about it. Have you ever noticed how suddenly all the characters speak English in your head now, and they say what you previously read from the subs? I mean, it's not like you're going to imagine them speaking in a foreign language. At the time of actually doing it, you're experiencing watching a subtitled movie. And then later on your shitty unreliable memory morphs that experience into something your weak mind can handle. Fantastic Planet is kind of like that, except not just with the subtitles, but with everything. I literally just finished the movie 20 minutes ago, and I already think of it not in terms of a 70s animated movie but of the incredible imagery embellished in no little part by my rampant imagination.
And that point is important enough to keep going on about, because you won't feel the real power of the movie as you're watching it; it will come later on when you think back.That's not to say that it's all rainbow farting puppy dogs. Because the movie's ethereal, dreamlike quality that is difficult to pinpoint is such a huge part of the experience that is sitting through Fantastic Planet, whenever that dream slips into a nightmare it is genuinely disturbing. The incessant weirdness also begins to wear you down and while my flatmate mumbled something about needing to watch this with our friend MJ, truth is that this is one movie I wouldn't want to see under the influence. The movie depicts mass murder in the same matter of fact, above it way that a documentary might show the demise of an ant colony. They're just ants, who gives a shit? They're just humans, who gives a shit?I know that I've mentioned a few times the weak animation and low fidelity art but I have to admit that it does have a certain rustic charm, and a decidedly organic feel that was a refreshing reminder of the days when computer animation wasn't king, and now I wonder whether it enhanced the strange surreality.  The cool thing about Fantastic Planet is that yes, it does have a remarkably simple plot, but the world in which it takes place is so brutally and genuinely alien; yet it manages to take the viewer through its unique, twisted dream logic with ease.