Back in 1973, French animator René Laloux released his landmark animation, La Planete sauvage, to wide acclaim, winning a special jury prize at Cannes in the process.
The film tells the story of the simple human-like Oms who are kept as pets by a race of blue humanoid giants called Draags. On the giant’s homeworld, Ygam, an orphaned Om called Terr grows up enslaved by the Draags. Abused by his handler Tiva, Terr finally manages to escape. Armed with a Draag learning device, he then begins teaching other Oms how to better themselves. But the Draags regard the Oms as vermin and decide to cull them. It’s then a race against time for Terr to find away to deliver his fellow Oms from Ygam.
At the time of the film’s release, Laloux’s futuristic animation was seen as an allegorical comment on the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, which began in 1968. In today’s political climate (Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine), it remains a potent voice against incursion.
Politics aside, La Planete sauvage is still a powerful, beautiful piece of film-making, thanks to the wonderful, simple, yet bizarre designs of illustrator Roland Topor and animator Josef Kabrt; Laloux’s surreal direction; and Alain Goraguer‘s famed psychedelic music score (the vinyl release remains a prized collector’s item today).
One of Eureka Entertainment‘s more popular titles, La Planete sauvage is now available as a Blu-ray release – and it looks great thanks to the restored high-definition transfer. There’s also a choice between the original French soundtrack, with or without subtitles, and the US dub (which is the one I remember, so this release is a real treat).
Special features include five short films by Laloux: Les Dents du singe (1960) is inspired by the artwork of mentally-ill patients; Les Temps morts (1964) a surreal study of death; Les Escargots (1965) is an exquisitely drawn satire; Comment Wang-Fo fut sauvé (1987) a dark pre-Manga fantasy; and La Prisonnière (1988) looks like an Alejandro Jodorowsky-inspired sci-fi comic book adventure. Also included is a new documentary about the life and work of Laloux, and the Alain Goraguer soundtrack (a must-have).
La Planete sauvage is no waltz through a Disney park, but serious sci-fi animation with a big message, and this Blu-ray release is one to treasure.