There is a strange, dreamlike placidity that hangs – like a silent, terrifying fog – over René Laloux’s 1973 animated sci-fi classic Fantastic Planet. It’s an eerie film, gently overflowing with imagination and full-blown, psychedelic, midnight movie imagery. The images, based on drawings by illustrator Roland Topor and animated by the Czech production studio Jiří Trnka, look like a deliberately impossible midpoint between the whimsy Dr. Seuss and the Hell of Hieronymus Bosch. This is a movie so striking, so strange, that it will certainly shake any modern casual science fiction fan out of their aesthetic complacency. Fantastic Planet should serve to remind us that sci-fi, as a genre, can – and perhaps should more often – be used to explore the boundless depths of aesthetic possibility.

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