I once dreamed that I died and was reborn as a little blue child. I'm sure that dream wasn't brought on by those years watching "The Smurfs", or those times I've watched the recently released "Avatar", but perhaps something I hadn't experienced yet. "Fantastic Planet" happens to be the film that coincidentally reminds me of my dream- or in this case-nightmare. This piece of sheer hallucinogenic brilliance is some of the best French cinema has to offer when it comes to animation; and if you're going to see it, then see it for the surrealistic visuals. But wait, there's also a story going on here as well, and it involves themes of racism, war, and the usual futuristic material that a proper Sci-Fi film should have. "Fantastic Planet" is indeed fantastic, and in a great number of ways. It succeeds miraculously as an animated feature, a tense drama, and a compelling sci-fi film all in one. It doesn't take a good film to do this; it takes a great one. And in my opinion, "Fantastic Planet" is great; in fact, it might just be one of my favorite animated films yet. There's so much genius going on here at once that it's easy to loose track of the real picture set in front of you; but if you can comprehend this brilliant little bugger, then it's one of the best animated acid trips you will ever take. And considering the nigh inexcusable lack of trippy films these days, that's saying a lot. It's a nice piece of adult animation, but I have but one concern, and this particular one goes out to parents. To the parents who are reading; do not let your children watch this film. Chances are it will terrify them because the imagery is often times too frightening and "fantastic" for their age group to either comprehend or withstand. But as they grow, it might be good to expose this kind of stuff to them. It's not "inappropriate" by any means; I just don't want anyone's child to be scarred for life after watching stuff like this at a young age. It may be animated, but that does not mean it's for kids. If you were to ask me, I actually find something oddly charming about adult animated films; and perhaps it rests in their unique layers of complexity. "Fantastic Planet" is some damn good animation. And considering what can be done in animation, there's reason to see the thing as it is.
We set the scene on a planet inhabited by humanoid blue people called Draags, and another species of smaller humanoid beings called Oms. The two species live in harmony for quite some time; with the Draags often treating the tamed Oms as their pets while the Oms just go along with it. However, there are stray Oms, and they are starting a rebellion against the mere existence of the Draags. And these little guys are uncommonly feisty; in spite of their size. So the film is about a war; I'll admit that. But it's also about a central character, who is- in this case- a little boy who grows up as a tamed Om. The boy escapes his alien captors and joins a group of rebellious Om; all who share the same dream of freedom. He gets caught up in the middle of this grand war; and the film essentially builds itself around the themes of warfare and the future. The war depicting in this film mimics that of the Cold War, while the sci-fi themes are in plain sight. But this is no ordinary animated feature; it uses its visuals and plot to tell its story. You can look at the visuals and envision a plot on its own, or you can listen to the story being told. I did both; and got a lot out of this masterpiece. There's a lot of artistic design that went into the story and the visuals; and each good aspect makes "Fantastic Planet" all the more fantastic. It's one of the best adult animated films ever made; and one of the more memorable films of the 1970's. Some think that it has lost its spark, but I disagree. I think that "Fantastic Planet"- and its themes- is very much alive. It's for those who can accept it as art.
Sadly, there is not much to say about the voice cast of the film. There are not enough voice actors that should be considered note-worthy; although that does not mean they are bad. The film's voice cast sounds very good, and the only name I can find out of the entire cast- as of now- is Barry Bostwick. But I suppose this film is not about the cast; it's about the vision that has been created. That is what you should be paying attention to here; not so much the talents involved behind the voices of each character. Speaking of which, the characters in this film are very well developed. Despite the absence of the voice cast's notability, that's good enough for me.
This is what I want when I hear "great animated film". Sure, Pixar is nice. In fact, Pixar is pretty great. But they're a big, modern animated company; while "Fantastic Planet" is a little, "old" animated feature. It's not the kind of animated film that could be made anymore, because good or not, most of them use a lot of dialogue. This one in particular is like "2001" squeezed just a little bit beyond the one hour mark. The film is short- even for an animated film- but yet it tells a delicate story and has spectacular visuals. The film feels surreal, trippy, and all-around awesome. I have seen great French films; and I have also seen great animated films from France. But this one is one of the best; not only from its year or its decade, but also from French cinema alike. I will indeed treasure this film in some way or form. The visual style is revolutionary to me, and I'll recognize it from time-to-time. I will be recommending this work of art to many people; just not young children, for this is a piece of animation that was not made for them. Some will say that "Fantastic Planet" is a recommended "family viewing". Do not listen to these people; "Fantastic Planet" should only be watched by intelligent minds belonging to intelligent people. It's doubtful that the whole family will have that kind of mind, but if they do, then good for them; this film is one of the whole crowd. But you get my point; this is an intelligent and complex work of science fiction filmmaking. I was very entertained by the imagery, the story-telling, and the thematic elements alike.
I do not know why a film as great as this was forgotten by so many. Perhaps it was not marketed correctly, or perhaps the critical reception was divided. This animated film remains daring even to this day, but that's part of why I enjoyed it so much. There's a lot to look at and think about here; and how can you resist a film which has that kind of stuff in it? This film is very artistic, never explicit, but never "kiddish" either. It's animation for the grown-ups, and there's something I admire about that. But alas, this film cannot be put into words. It's the kind of surrealistic, cinematic acid trip that you need to experience for yourself; regardless of who you are. This film will please sci-fi and animation fans alike; and if you can dig it, then you can love it as well. And yes, I do love "Fantastic Planet". I love it very much. So much animation clichés are non-existent here, and this is a film which wants to create animated art at any cost. The film will be intense, thematic, and complex whether we like it or not. Kids will run under the covers while the parents will remain fascinated. I think that this film is fairly spell-binding; or at least enough so that adults will like it or at least love it. You can say what you want about the film, but there's something ominous and savage about "Fantastic Planet" that I can't quite put my finger on. Strangely enough, that's kind of why I love it; because I don't fully understand it. I guess you don't need to understand this one completely to enjoy it as much as I did. But you sure need to enjoy it for starters. Chances are you will.