MEDiA: La Planète Sauvage, 1973

Wow! This is a pretty amazing animated film. The quality of animation is terrific. Especially for its (pre CGI) era. Whilst the visual aesthetic is not immediately to my own tastes, it’s so singular and powerful it kind of sucks one in. Well, me at least, at any rate.

I discovered the existence of this movie thanks to the inclusion of some music from it on the vinyl compilation Mindbending Nuggets, which a friend had bought. This latter is a great collection of slightly obscure music, with a good selection of odd and unusual but groovily funky tracks (released in ‘97).

The basic premise of the film (itself based on a book*) is that humans, called Oms, are kept as pets by Draags, big blue red-eyed and web-eared humanoid characters. These Draags spend most their time meditating and being a bit weird.

They live on a planet, Ygam, whose look reminds one of both surrealism generally, and in particular the paintings of scientist (and surrealist painter) Desmond Morris. All organic blobbiness, but with an appropriately ‘sauvage’ spikiness.

Tiva plays with Terr.

Apparently the movie was marketed as a stoner experience, best watched in an altered state. And I can see that that might well be a good way to see it. Although personally those days are, for the most part, very much behind me now.

The music, by Alain Goraguer is terrific. It’s often compared to Atom Heart Mother era Floyd. Although, to my mind/ears, it’s far more complex, focussed and funky than the Brit-proggers.

Funky keys, wah-guitar, and lush strings and vocals create the perfect aural companion to the visuals. It’s one of those rare instances where the music stands in its own right, and is as strong as the film it accompanies.

Mmm… sexy jazz!

Above, a bit more of Goraguer’s work. I’ll prob do a post on him at some point. But for this one, let’s get back to the animated film. Which is, frankly, visually stunning.

* Based on this book:

All told, there’s something a bit odd, and slightly limp or disappointing, in the ideas or the narrative. The visual imagination and invention is terrific, but the conceptual side occasionally feels a little lame.

There’s a definite hangover of both WWII and the hippy era. The ‘de-Om’ing’, or culling of humans, clearly resembles the Nazi ‘final solution’. Most obviously so when gas releasing pellets – Zyklon B springs to mind – are used to kill Oms en masse. But in the end, and rather quickly, it’s determined that peaceful co-existence is the only way forward. And, rather abruptly (and dissatisfyingly), boom, the film ends.

It almost feels like they just ran out of either budget or ideas! Maybe not? Who knows. Either way, it’s a bit of a damp squib way to end.

Nevertheless, the sheer visual richness, and the soundtrack, make this essential viewing, in my opinion.

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