Comfortable and Furious

Fantastic Planet (1973)

“In the third millennium before Kraup, the Great Zarek created

the first pyramic civilization.

Legend says that from his tomb

he still animates the ball of life,

that his body, though constantly pierced by projectiles,

does not change,

and that his mind has regularly traversed the skies of Ygam

ever since the Draags, under his direction,

fought off the first Yanko invaders.

Certain experts believe this is how meditation came about.

Others believe that Zarek is immortal

and that from the flames of time he reappears in reality,

whirling in infinite forms,

to fight the part of the Draag spirit that wishes to die.”

Sometimes, just sometimes, you come across these strange and beautiful little things, just floating around out there, in movie-land. I won’t tell you where I found this (Internet Archive) because then it will be my little secret, that no one knows about. Except all you Ruthless-readers, of course. But you aren’t real people, so that’s all right.

“Our Uva, Goham, has a fepular inland sea

that stabilizes the apenosh at about 25 laiks.

Fixation blocks combat pontic ribation,

and emmaliate domes regulate pressure.”

It’s called Fantastic Planet, and it’s a French animated movie from 1973. The visual style of it reminded me a little of that of the great Terry Gilliam and his work for Monty Python. In this film, we learn that in the distant future, the gargantuan blue humanoid Draags have brought human beings (who are called Oms as a play on the French word for “man”, homme) from Earth to the planet Ygam, where the Draags maintain a technologically and spiritually advanced society. The Draags consider Oms animals, and while they keep some as pets, others live in the wilderness and are periodically slaughtered by the Draags to control their population. Draags have much longer lifespans than Oms, but reproduce much less.

“It’s easy to see a tark’s fladed musculature

because the animal is easily skinned.”

 * Where Terr sees how some of the Draag are touched upon by a strange black tentacle, and turn all squiggly-wiggly, for no apparent reason at all 

When an Om mother is tortured to death by three Draag children, her orphaned infant is found by Master Sinh, a key Draag leader, and his daughter Tiwa, who keeps the boy as a pet and names him Terr. Tiwa loves Terr and is careful not to hurt him, but, in accordance with her parents’ instructions, gives him a collar with which she can pull him in any direction.

She brings Terr to sessions in which she receives her education using a headset that transmits knowledge into her mind; a defect in Terr’s collar allows him to receive the knowledge too. Around the time that Tiwa grows into her teens and first performs Draag meditation, which allows the species to travel with their minds, she loses some interest in Terr, who has become a young man and acquired much Draag knowledge. He escapes into the wilderness, stealing Tiwa’s headset.

“Let us observe the chiscinian muscle of a tark’s leg.

The chiscinian muscle is a sinewy, threadlike vilore…”

 * Where an egg breaks open, a strange creature is born and immediately eaten by another strange creature, because that’s the way of the world 

There he runs into a wild female Om, who cuts off his collar and introduces him to her tribe, which lives in an abandoned Draag park full of strange creatures and landscapes. Terr shows them how to use the headset to acquire Draag knowledge and literacy, winning the right to do so in a duel. The literacy they gain allows them to read a Draag announcement that the park will be purged of Oms, and, when the purge comes, some are slaughtered by Draag technology while others escape, joining forces with another tribe. They are attacked by two Draag passers-by and manage to kill one of them before escaping to an abandoned Draag rocket depot, much to the outrage of Draag leaders.

“You will observe that searching for aklons

in pernetrope in space

Is carried out in the same way as on land.”

 * The eating of the gold, where the Oms become all glowy, and run away to commence the naked frolicking 

They live there for years, joined by many other Oms. Due to the knowledge acquired from Terr’s headset, they manage to replicate Draag technology, including two rockets; they hope to leave Ygam for its moon, the Fantastic Planet, and live there safe from Draags. When a large-scale Draag purge hits the depot and many Oms are slaughtered, a group led by Terr uses the rockets to flee to the Fantastic Planet, where they discover large statues that Draags travel to during meditation and use to meet beings from other galaxies in a strange mating ritual that maintains their species.

The Oms destroy some of the statues, threatening the Draags’ existence; the genocide of Oms is halted on Ygam, and, facing a crisis, the Draags negotiate for peace. The Oms agree to leave the Fantastic Planet to the Draags for their meditations, and in return, an artificial satellite is put into orbit around Ygam and given to the Oms as a new home. This leads to an era of peaceful coexistence between the two species, who now benefit from each other’s way of thinking.

“Trinur is a white metal that palsifies matoir.

Careful reculidization gives it an exceptional metallic sheen.”

But all this doesn’t matter. Not really. What matters is, that for just one hour and eleven minutes, the running time of this great little film, our vast and otherwise indifferent universe just seems to be a little less cold. And just for that, I loved it. It’s really strange, and beautiful. You should see it. I’m going to float away, now. Bye, Earth. Bye, people.



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One response to “Fantastic Planet (1973)”

  1. John Welsh Avatar

    Crazy D (puts me in mind of Crazy Guggenheim, only he was a singer. “Hiya Joe, hello Mr Dunahee.”)
    I think it was in 1972 ( the events of the late 60s through the early 70s are perhaps a little vague for some reason) me and a couple of friends made the long trek to the movie viewing Mecca of Westwood to see Fantastic Planet. Long line, of course. We were accosted by the usual gruesome twosome: some deaf guy who sold cards about being deaf, and a middle eastern creep who would ask everyone in line the same question:
    “You go to UCLA?” “No shit-wad, the answer is the same as the last five times you asked me. Now, get the fuck away from me.” He would strike a puzzled expression and wander away until the next time I was in Westwood.
    Then there was a new edition. Some guy claiming to selling blotter acid, “as good as Owsley”. Some connoisseur was doubtful and called the cops. When the uniforms arrived we got THE FEAR and fled for our lives. We drove over to Tower Records on the Strip to see if there were any rock stars there shopping for vinyl. No place to park.
    It was around the same time a Ruskie science fiction movie titled Solaris was playing in Santa Monica. “It’s far fucking-out, man, I mean trippy”. Some guy was working the line selling phony tickets and a fight broke out and the cops showed-up. We were again affected with THE FEAR, and hit the road. We drove to the Santa Monica pier to see if there was any action there but there was no place to park.

    A novel published in 1920 titled A Voyage to Arcturus by a Scots Calvinist named David Lindsey was making the freak circuit around then. All the Heads were into it, trying to divine the meaning. Good luck with that. It was on the Head reading list right up there with The Teaching of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge about an Indian Sorcerer who cooked-up a stew of peyote and magic mushrooms. It supposedly gave one an experience like William Hurt had in Altered States. He’d drink a cup of the mix and then plop into an isolation tank. There he would regress into a photo-human (Latin for Monkey Boy). I went into an isolation tank a few times but never turned into a Monkey Boy, just very wrinkled from the salt water. Sone say my transformation would have been redundant anyway.

    Anyone who enjoyed Fantastic Planet would like Voyage to Arcturus. It has plenty of Head room.
    A supplemental text is Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

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