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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • René Laloux's short film Les Escargots (1965)
  • René Laloux's short film Comment Wang-Fo Fut Sauvé (1987)
  • The complete soundtrack for La Planéte sauvage (1973) 40-page full colour booklet featuring rare production sketches from Laloux's films and a new essay by Craig Keller - The Schizophrenic Cinema of René Laloux

Fantastic Planet


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By:
1973 | 72 Minutes

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: £19.99 | Series: The Masters of Cinema Series | Edition: #34
Eureka Entertainment Ltd

Release Date: August 21, 2006
Review Date: June 15, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

René Laloux's mesmerising psychedelic sci-fi animated feature won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is a landmark of European animation. Based on Stefan Wul's novel Oms en série [Oms by the dozen], Laloux's breathtaking vision was released in France as La Planète sauvage [The Savage Planet]; in the USA as Fantastic Planet; and immediately drew comparisons to Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Planet of the Apes (both the 1968 film and Boule's 1963 novel). Today, the film can be seen to prefigure much of the work of Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) due to its palpable political and social concerns, cultivated imagination, and memorable animation techniques.

Fantastic Planet tells the story of "Oms", human-like creatures, kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of blue giants called "Draags". The story takes place on the Draags' planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from infancy to adulthood. He manages to escape enslavement from a Draag learning device used to educate the savage Oms - and begins to organise an Om revolt. The imagination invested in the surreal creatures, music and sound design, and eerie landscapes, is immense and unforgettable.

Widely regarded as an allegorical statement on the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Fantastic Planet was five years in the making at Prague's Jiri Trnka Studios. The direction of René Laloux, the incredible art of Roland Topor, and Alain Goraguer's brilliantly complementary score (much sampled by the hip-hop community) all combine to make Fantastic Planet a mind-searing experience. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to release Fantastic Planet on DVD in the UK for the first time.

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series presents René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this dual layer disc. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

The image is decent enough if marred by a few issues. The transfer is unfortunately interlaced but thankfully any issues this raises are minimal. Trailing is noticeable on occasion and there are some jagged edges but that’s about it.

The picture is quite sharp and detail right down to some finely drawn lines is impressive. The colour scheme to the film is muted but there are some bright blues and reds on occasions and they look pretty bold with excellent saturation. Damage to the print is present but it’s limited to a smattering of dirt and debris; I didn’t notice any tears or big marks.

It’s not a perfect transfer but it’s fine enough, an improvement over its other home video presentations.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The DVD comes with both the original French mono track and alternate English mono track. The notes presented for the English track suggest the preferred French track should be used but for prosperity the alternate English track is available.

Both soundtracks are okay, getting the job done. They’re a little weak and lack a real punch. In comparison both sound pretty similar in quality so I can’t recommend one over the other in terms of that, but would recommend the French track just because it works better with the film. As English dubs go, though, the alternate track is a decent one.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The Masters of Cinema include a small collection of supplements here.

Soundtrack presents music tracks from the film. I’ve always enjoyed the music in this film and it was nice to get them on their own. Surprisingly the audio quality here is actually better than the main presentation.

There’s also a couple of short animated features included here, both by René Laloux. The first is Les escargots from 1965, running just shy of 11-minutes. It’s an amusing if bizarre short with a somewhat similar style to that of Fantastic Planet, though not exact. The second animated feature is from 1987, called Comment Wang-Fo fut sauvé, running just under 15-minutes. This one is very different in style, and one Laloux considers his best work. Both are quite good and worth viewing, especially if you enjoy Fantastic Planet. Both are also in pretty good shape quality wise.

And finally we get to possibly the best aspect of this release, the 40-page booklet, which features an essay by Craig Keller that goes over his career from his early work to Fantastic Planet. Photos and sketches are also scattered throughout the meaty booklet.

And that covers it. I guess a little underwhelming in a way, but the supplements are all quite good and ones fans will certainly want to go through.

5/10

CLOSING

A nice overall DVD for the film. The transfer has a few minor problems but they shouldn’t hamper one’s viewing experience and is still quite sharp overall. The supplements are minimal with only the booklet giving a decent account on the making of the film, but the two short animated features found on the disc are a nice treat, as are the separate music tracks. Not a lavish edition but one fans of the film should pick up.

(Though for sale in the UK the DVD is region 0 and is in an NTSC format meaning it will play in North American DVD players.)


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