BFI Recommends: Fantastic Planet

Think Yellow Submarine meets Planet of the Apes… Our latest recommendation is René Laloux’s far-out animated sci-fi odyssey Fantastic Planet, chosen by Jez Stewart.

20 May 2020

By Jez Stewart

Fantastic Planet (1973)

Would you like to take a trip? Then enter the orbit of the Fantastic Planet (1973), an animated science-fiction feature that revels in its delightful flourishes of unmitigated oddity. A fever dream distilled from a novel by a French dentist, visualised by surrealist Roland Topor, and brought to life by former artist-in-residence of a psychiatric clinic, René Laloux. Think Yellow Submarine meets Planet of the Apes via the exotic and/or erotic section of your local garden centre.

I’m sure the story of the giant blue meditating Draags and their infestation of both wild and domesticated Oms (ie hommes = us) is an allegory of something or other. But for me it’s the film’s graphic power and endless visual embellishments that draw repeat viewings. A particular favourite is a sadistic plant that traps pudgy flying creatures in its branches before smashing them to the floor – not for sustenance or survival but just for a good giggle.

Be sure to crank up the psychedelic jazz soundtrack of Serge Gainsbourg collaborator Alain Goraguer and be grateful not to have to endure the 1974 English release dub track, for which The Guardian film reviewer Derek Malcolm suggested “someone should be shot”.

Jez Stewart
Curator, Film and TV Non-Fiction