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Anchor Bay presents
Fantastic Planet (1973)

"After a while, I lost my intimacy with Tiwa. As she grew up, she gave up her playthings. Deprived of lessons, I decided to run away."
- Terr

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: July 23, 2000

Stars: Terr, Tiwa
Other Stars: The Oms, The Traags
Director: Rene Laloux

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: PG for (animated nudity, violence, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:11m:26s
Release Date: February 16, 1999
UPC: 013131070293
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A ABA A-

DVD Review

Fantastic Planet (original French title: La Planete sauvage) is a 1973 animated science-fiction film directed by Rene Laloux with design by Roland Topor, based on Stefan Wul's allegorical novel Oms en serie. The film began production in Czechoslovakia at the Jiri Trnka studio, but moved to Paris to escape political pressures—the story was inspired in part by Czechoslovakia's invasion by the USSR in the late 1960's. Laloux's finished film won the Grand Prix Award at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

The story concerns the Oms, a race of Earth-origin humans living on a planet where they are dominated and kept as pets by the Traags, giant (by comparison) blue aliens who see the "animals" as an amusement until they observe signs of intelligence and organization among the tribes of un-domesticated "wild Oms." An orphaned Om named Terr is raised by Tiwa, a young female Traag who allows him to listen in on her lessons—after he escapes, his education proves valuable.

Fantastic Planet successfully implements the elusive sense of other-worldliness so many live-action science-fiction films fail to pull off. The film's look is unique even among animated features—it uses a sophisticated combination of cut-out and cel animation, allowing for Winsor McCay-ish artwork with detailed cross-hatching and pastel shading while avoiding the obvious "joints" of conventional cut-out animation (a la South Park.) The background and character designs fit together organically, without the hard lines and flat colors that separate the two in cel animation. Character movement is sometimes limited by this approach, but the film benefits greatly from Laloux's technical risks—its consistent stylization lends a credible alien quality to its fantasy world.

Laloux's film is also solid from a storytelling perspective—its gently-paced, literary feel drives its message home without becoming preachy. The script wisely avoids facile good-vs-evil themes, building its impact through bits and pieces, words and images that add up to a fully-realized portrait of two cultures in conflict. The exquisitely original look of the film is backed up with mature philosophical substance. Forget <b>Titan A.E., Heavy Metal and half of the anime you've seen—Fantastic Planet is animated science-fiction at its finest.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Fantastic Planet is presented in its original 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio, digitally restored by Anchor Bay for this DVD release. The film's subtly shaded pastel colors are preserved (though they look a bit washed out at times), fine artwork details are solid with no distracting digital artifacts, and the source print looks very clean and damage-free aside from some minor flecking. The trailer and older animated shorts provided as supplements are also in nice shape and well-transferred, though the shorts suffer due to age and their apparent 16mm origins. The only real complaint I have is that the English subtitles suffer some "dancing" artifacts around their thin edges and cannot be switched off, preventing viewing of the film's beautiful imagery free of obstruction.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrench, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Anchor Bay presents Fantastic Planet with its original French soundtrack and an English-dubbed track, both in true Dolby Digital 1.0 monophonic audio. The restored digital transfers capture the studio-recorded dialogue and Alain Goraguer's great 70's synthesizer musical score with minimal hiss and decent bass content (considering the age of the soundtrack.) The French-language soundtrack is slightly crisper and more subtle than the English track, but both sound great.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Three Early Shorts by Rene Laloux
Extras Review: Anchor Bay gives Fantastic Planet the royal DVD treatment in the supplements department. Menus are designed in the style of the film and nicely animated, with the evocative synthesizer score from the film playing in the background, and a lavish set of 32 chapter stops make it easy to zero in on a favorite moment in this 72-minute feature. The original French and English soundtracks are available, but the "burned-in" English subtitles cannot be switched off while watching the dubbed version—while most viewers will opt for the French audio, the subtitles obstruct the artwork and are extremely distracting when watching the English dub due to translation differences. Added-value extras are substantial, including:

Theatrical Trailer -

The 35mm theatrical trailer from the US release is presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound. It's a "review" trailer, with quotes from sources as diverse as The New York Times and Seventeen, with a female narrator and audiovisuals meant to imply a "psychedelic" feel. It's a great "70's nostalgia" trailer, very much of its time and yet appropriate to the film.

Talent Bios -

This section is slightly misnamed—it's really a text-based biography of director Rene Laloux, combined with significant production notes about the film. It's intelligently written and informative, covering the history and context of the film briefly but well.

Three Early Shorts by Rene Laloux -

This section alone makes this DVD a great value for animation fans—three wonderful, bizarre and rarely-seen animated shorts by Fantastic Planet director Rene Laloux, more than thirty minutes worth of material:

Les Dents du Singe (Monkey's Teeth) (1960) -

Black-and-white live action footage of "group home" residents precedes a color animation inspired by a story they created about a man with a toothache, an evil dentist and a "monkey magician." The film isn't technically sophisticated, with some crude animation and shadows visible around the cut-out piece edges, but it's well-designed with beautiful background painted in a loose, brightly colored style reminiscent of Marc Chagall. Running time 13:50, in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio.

Les Temps Mort (Dead Times) (1964) -

A dark, semi-satirical meditation on humanity's killing and mourning of the dead, told from an "alien" perspective with black-and-white live-action footage and pen-and-ink drawings with occasional bits of cut-out animation. Running time 09:47, in 1.33:1.

Les Escargots (The Snails) (1965) -A fanciful, colorful tale about a farmer whose tear-watered crops cause snails to grow to enormous sizes, with pen/watercolor/marker artwork and sophisticated cut-out animation. Running time 11:14, in 1.33:1.



Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Fantastic Planet is a visually unique, serious and thought-provoking animated science-fiction film. Anchor Bay's excellent, digitally-restored DVD presents the film in fine form, and the supplements make this a treat for animation fans. Recommended.

 


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