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20.8.10

Bienvenue sur La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet) - Camiele White

That's a première here. Camiele contacted me sone time ago wishing to post here. That's not the usual way I deal with this blog, but why not ?! If you find this kind of contribution of some interest, we'll welcome more guest bloggers !


Article writer by day, renegade poet by night, Camiele White loves any and everything film. She chases only the original (or incredibly funny) and has been known to talk for hours about subjects that most people just don’t care about. Right now, she gets her jabberjaw jollies writing about Halloween costumes. If you want to give her a buzz, she can be reached at cmlewhite at gmail.com.


Horror, as defined in the dictionary, is something that inspires dislike or intense aversion. However, my favourite definition deals with the most viral part of human nature: fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of shadows that move in the corner of your eye. But the fear that captures us all, that unites freaks and fanatics alike, is the fear of being insignificant.

Christians and atheists, pirates and paedophiles, they all fear being completely invisible. No matter who you are, there is an inexplicable creep that slithers through the skin and the psyche at the very thought of being relegated to the significance of a thing. We are all intrinsically tattooed with the primeval fear that as a human we are nothing more than toys, stray puppies without leashes, starving without mothers. La Planète Sauvage explores and exposes the human psyche and fear of being a wild thing that must be controlled by an electronic collar.



To limit the psychedelic world of this Fantastic Planet (the English and animated translation of the French novel) to the genre of horror is to give the bogeyman a face, thus ingraining it with insurmountable faults. This, of course, is a tactic to keep the audience assured that what they’re experiencing is nothing more than a film with a script and a cast of people, like them, who are paid to vocally portray characters --a set of humans, just like them, who are given a list of orders to follow in order to feed themselves with the whatever indulgence gives them pleasure. And that’s exactly what the film queers for viewers. Yes, it’s animated, but how much of it is fiction? How much of it is fact? And exactly what percentage of the film delves into the hypnotic, almost perverse, fascination with the fear that scores our insides with its questions?



We are first introduced to a woman. Well, not so much introduced as intrigued by. She is running half naked in what appears to be a forest. It’s almost native in its innocence and its complete lack of what we understand to be civilised --but this is, of course, le planète sauvage. As she runs through this thicket of disturbingly contorted trees and shrubs, we notice that she is clutching a baby to her exposed breast. Who is her pursuer? What is it, the audience wonders, which has this lonely mother gasping for breath to propel her further on? We are then freaked and disgusted to find that it is, in fact, a finger. Pan back further --as the woman attempts to climb a hill and is continually sent spiralling back towards the earth-- and we see fish like faces of what can only be described as children --for what else could explain the look of perplexed fascination as the stubby fingers pick the now miniature trinket of a woman off the ground only to let her fall to her death? What else could explain the carnal innocence of these creatures who find their day ruined by the realisation that their new toy is broken?

Stepping further into this animated world we are introduced to the two quarrelling races: the Drogs, who take it upon themselves to rule this land, and the Oms, their domesticated pets. Those who are not domesticated are threats to the dominance of their planet. As the film illustrates, the fear of relinquishing power crawls deeply within all civilisation when one race becomes aware that another possesses a frightening capacity for intelligence and ingenuity --in the dark corners of a seemingly superior race this intelligence signifies destruction and rebellion, culminating in a ritual ethnic cleansing.

What The Fantastic Planet delves into deeper than most films is the significance of one soul’s dominance over another’s. The mind is a carousel that spins and contorts until someone is suddenly thrown and damaged. The film itself is a ferocious pleasure cruise, whose images and animation throws the audience into a unified sense of confusion and ecstasy. Sonically, it’s a kaleidoscope. From the mundane sounds of walking to the soundtrack, it cracks and sizzles its way into the memory forever.

As it is, the true Fantastic Planet is inhabited by headless human figures, frozen in nude elegance and only reanimated when the meditation bubbles of the Drogs mount the shoulders, allowing them to engage in the nuptial practices of humans. It’s the curiosity of one race of another that binds all beings. It’s the realisation that one can only be held captive if his subconscious tells him he is only as precious as his captor believes. On this fantastic and wild planet, the only truth is that all life will do anything to survive.

La Planète Sauvage. René Laloux and Roland Topor. Music Alain Goraguer. 1973. From the novel by Stefan Wul "Oms en série".

3 comments:

Trick or Treat Pete said...

I haven't seen this film in years, and then only once, but it left me amazed and burned it's brilliance into my psyche!
It is on my list of essential sci fi films.
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum

Thombeau said...

I love this film, it's cosmic. Used to watch it a lot while in an "altered state of consciousness"!

Trick or Treat Pete said...

I have just given you the Zombie Rabbit Award!
http://trickortreatpete.blogspot.com/2010/08/zombie-rabbit-award.html
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum