Giant, blue-skinned aliens on a planet far, far away, this isn’t an Avatar movie James Cameron but Wild Planeta real UFO of French cinema, released in 1973, signed by René Laloux and Roland Topor. A poetic and political tale that influenced the greatest animation directors, such as Miyazaki.
For Xavier Kawa Topor, specialist in animated cinema and co-author of “Death Odyssey” “Wild Planet” with Fabrice Plein (Capricci, 2023), This movie is kind of “A revolution in animated cinema. For the first time in France, a feature-length animated film takes the lead Walt Disney. It is not a feature film based on a comic book, but rather an original creation by the author.
It was 1973, Wild Planet Wins Special Jury Prize. Director René Laloux narrates the synopsis on TV: “It is the story of giants living on an imaginary planet, who brought back from a galactic journey little pets of men. The film is the adventure of one of these little men“The men are enslaved by the Draags, giant, blue-skinned beings with superior intelligence and spirituality. But the men end up coming to know the Draags and revolt.
This sci-fi tale takes place on the planet Ygram, in an unspecified future, but one that we assume is not good for humanity…
As for Xavier Kawa-Tobor (who is no relation to Roland Topor), “As we see at one point in the film, they are indeed the ruins of our civilization. We can actually think of human activity, the development of human society has led to the fall of humanity. In René Lalo there is a concern about the future of humanity, but this concern comes through a more pessimistic and provocative rhetoric than advocacy for nature conservation, etc.
Director René Laloux has previously worked with Roland Topor, the famous black comedian, on two short films. Their new project Wild PlanetIt is based on a French science fiction novel, Oms in the series By Stefan Wall. But no sixth It’s not the only inspiration for the film. Wild Planet It is part of the lineage of philosophical tales Voltaire like micromegas or Gulliver’s Travels By Jonathan Swift.
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It is also a reflection of an era of political turmoil, explains the animation specialist. “It is truly a shift of view through the play on dimensions, through a change of perspective between human and animal, leading to a metaphysical reflection on the meaning of our existence, the meaning of societies. His statement is broad enough and at the same time precise so that we can, if we want, see the echo of the country’s dictatorship. Pinochet, from the suppression of the Prague Spring. The production of the film (editor’s note: the film was shot in Prague) will be affected by this.”
Laloux and Topor wrote the screenplay together. Tobor draws all the objects and brings the creatures in the story to life.
In the designer’s line we find the influence of the 19th century engraver, Grandville caricaturist and painter Gustave Doré. There is also a bit of figurative and surrealist painting, including Dali, In particular.”It intervenes a lot in the composition of the frame, in the constant presence of the horizon line as a structuring effect of space, in architectural representations, in representations of plants. Then there are much older references like Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, in particular, which we can think of when looking at the magnificent animals in The Wild Planet, which seem to have been directly inspired by medieval and Renaissance iconography.“.
But the project was progressing so slowly for Roland Topor that he ended up abandoning it. René Laloux creates the storyboard and is at the helm of production. Production was moved to Prague to save money, but also because Czechoslovakia, at that time, had a certain expertise in the field of animation. Teams of animators meticulously work on Tobor’s drawings using a new technique: paper cuts, not celluloid, the traditional technique for Disney productions where the drawing is traced onto transparent sheets.
but Wild Planet, it’s also a soundtrack that stood out at the time. Sort of a hybrid jazz fusion with wah guitar and other weird influences. It is signed by Alan Gouraguer, jazz pianist and arranger Ginzburg, Boris Vian or Sergei Reggiani.
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In its outputs, Wild Planet It marks a profound mark for a generation of future animation directors, including Michael Dudok de Wit, future director of The Red Tortoise, Florence Mialhi or Jeremy Perrin…
But he also had great influence in Japan, recalls Xavier Kawa Topor, where Lalox would be celebrated. “Both were written by Go Nagai, the creator of Goldorak, and Tesuka, the creator of Astro the robot. We also know that Miyazaki saw the film very early on, before its release in Japan, and it is a film that stood out. There are undoubtedly quotes from The Wild Planet in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which is nevertheless the film with which Studio Ghibli’s tremendous adventure begins.”
To listen: The good geniuses of Studio Ghibli: Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata
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