The Film (4/5)
Fantastic Planet is not so much a character driven film, but a species driven one. In this case we have 2 fictional species the humanesque Om's, and the giant blue Draags. Both share space on a planet, though share is probably not the appropriate term as the Draags due to their massive size and intellectual gap over the Om's look down on, and dominate the smaller species.
The Draags look at the Om's in one of 2 ways, as pest that need to be disposed of, and as pets that can be taken in and cared for, though the latter is primarily a behavior of the younger Draags. One particular Om, Terr, gets a hold of a telekinetic device from the Draags that allows him to share knowledge with the other Oms. With this device the Om's are now able to communicate and share knowledge amongst each other. This new ability makes it obvious the need to rebel against the dominate Draags. Once the rebellion begins, the Draags send out deadly gas to kill them. Those that survive go to another nearby planet for colonization purposes, only to find themselves in another fight with the Draags.
Rene Laloux's Fantastic Planet is a wonderful oddity of 1970's animation. It was written by Laloux and co-written by famed artist Roland Tupor who also helped design the overall look of the film. The film was conceived and created over a 5 year period at Prague's Jiri Trnka studios. The style of the film can be seen as stylistically similar to the Flying Circus animations of Terry Gilliam, also the film’s The Point, and Yellow Submarine.
The film has a leisurely pace, that allows the viewer to immerse themselves fully into Laloux's vision. The score by Alain Goraguer is quite interesting, and quite fitting to the bizarre visuals of the film. Fantastic Planet has a certain amount of political subtext, as it was made as an animated response to the Soviet occupation of the former Czechoslavakia a few years before the film's production. Though the events that sparked the film's message is dated, the subtext of a need for understanding between various different groups of people is a timeless message that is still very much needed in our society.
Fantastic Planet has been given a splendid 1:66:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer from Criterion. The Blu-ray does an excellent job reproducing the unique colors of the film, detail is quite solid throughout, and there is a nice organic grain structure present.
The audio is presented in one of two ways an LPCM 1.0 mono track in English or French. Either track is quite suitable with dialogue and score coming through nicely, and no noticeable issues with pops, crack, hissing, or any other audio defects.
Criteron have put together quite a nice package for fans of Laloux and of Fantastic Planet. The disc kicks off with 2 earlier short films from the director. We also get a 27 minute documentary featurette from Argos films about his life and works. There are 2 archival TV segemnts with Roland Tupor one is just a 4 minute in length, and the other is a 54 minute full episode. We also get a trailer for the film, and a leaflet with liner notes.
Fantastic Planet is an interesting Czech psychedelic animated oddity that has been lovingly restored by the Criterion Collection. The film looks and sounds fantastic, and has a nice complement of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.