Movie Review | Fantastic Planet
Written by Sean Ritchie
Edited by Sonya Boukengolts
Fantastic Planet is a French and Czechoslovakian-produced animated film from 1973 about humans (called Oms) being oppressed by giant blue aliens known as the Draags. Oms are reduced to living as either collared, mistreated pets or as pests hiding from the Draags on the outskirts of their society and avoiding extermination. Throughout the film, Draags openly debate with one another on how they should eradicate the Om pest and stomp on the Oms as if they were an ant. Showcasing how the oppressor group thinks and treats the oppressed and how the oppressed struggle to survive and escape Draag’s oppression is one of the aspects where this film shines. Fantastic Planet just simply shows you the blunt way in which all of these terrible things occur, yet it never beats you over the head with the misery of the situation. Many of the Oms do not just bow down to being slaughtered or kept as pets and actively try to counteract, escape, and overcome the many obstacles in their way. It is also refreshing to see that the oppressed are not depicted as aliens but as humans. This decision really helps to make you feel sympathy and horror for what the oppressed Oms have to go through and does not bother them, which commonly happens to many oppressed people within stories. This also makes the actions that the Draags take toward the Oms to be seen as extremely off-putting and inhuman.
The art style is beautiful and unique. It has this feeling that everything is painted and it’s quite obvious that the whole production put their hearts and soul into crafting it. The world that the Oms and Draags occupy is filled with weird nonsensical buildings and plants that whip at the wind. The world is populated with very well-designed alien creatures that help to make the world feel even more dangerous and odd. There are tiny round animals with essentially pin-like structures on their back that weave clothing, giant multiple-eyeball creatures wandering the landscape, and monstrous creatures that fly around with wings on their head and suck up Oms with their tongue similar to an anteater. These elements really help to keep the awe and wonder of this hostile landscape alive, while making you want to explore this odd landscape even though it may unexpectedly kill you.
The musical score is incredibly unique and highly rememberable. The score is experimental and jazzy, which creates this quiet, unpredictable, alien atmosphere that helps to immerse you even further into this strange, beautiful world.
Some aspects of the film that people may not like are that the film is slower paced, and the characters are there to be more concepts than actual distinct characters. However, for me, I did not find any of these to be an issue as the world, ideas, and art style really made me want to stay and explore this planet, and having the characters be concepts really helps to make the message the film is portraying laser-focused. Also, it should be noted that even though this film is rated pg it is not a film for children as most would find the story uninteresting and there is a lot of female nudity throughout the entire film.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys science fiction, like unique stories, or who likes films that are able to discuss its themes in an interesting way. If it even remotely catches your interest, I would definitely put it on your watchlist as there is no other film like it. If it does not grab your attention in the slightest or you just really dislike slower-paced films that make you think, then you are probably better off finding something else to watch.
I saw this YEARS ago on “Night Flight”, an excellent program run late night on now defunct cable station USA Network. “NF” showed odd things, videos, various visual art things….anyway, this movie was incredibly strange and creepy.
In that era when I saw this, the 1980s, there seemed to be an obsession in art with dystopian future scenarios. I took this movie to be a future on Earth, where humans devolved for various reasons to be on a low rung in the food chain.
I am glad for the review and hope younger people might experience this (and other) strange or odd movies from decades past.