Studio Ghibli on LSD ¦ Fantastic Planet (1973)


Whether intentional or unintentional; art will always represent the political era in which it was made. Some obvious and some not so obvious. Fantastic Planet takes the latter approach. Often compared to the Beatles' famed Yellow Submarine, Fantastic Planet endures a somewhat familair science fiction romp through a land where humans, or Oms as theyre called, are pests and slaves to the rulling blue giants, the Draags. A cannes winner so heavy in lore and strange creatures that it's Czechoslovakian anti-soviet agenda is well and truely hidden.

To modern audiences I would call it a cross between Studio Ghibli, the guys behind Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and the infamous youtube cartoon Salad Fingers. The planet of Ygam is coinhabited by a bizarre variety of creatures and plants straight out of a bad trip. A tree with a menacing face catching flying birds and shaking them to death only to smash them into the ground presumably out of pure envy. The technology and lifestyle of the Draags spectacularly furthers the distance between your screen and the window until you start to wonder about the mental state of its writer.

The story follows the adventures of Ter, an Om who is taken hostage as a child and domesticated by the Draags to be the pet of one of a young Draags. During the young Draags education lessons Ter incidentally begins to learn about the world around him and sets out to fix the injustices between the Oms and the Draags, the latter of which underestimate the Oms ability to adapt and thrive.

An extreme escapism that is unfortunately so uncommon to modern sci-fi films that seem to only spend their time forcing a relatability to play on the viewers emotions. What Fantastic Planet instead does is promotes an idea: the only way to defeat ignorance is with knowledge. The plight of the slave Oms is not due to their size to do to their restrictions to education. This is where the cold war political agendas come into play. An idea that if the people were told the full story about the USSR or their occupation of Czechoslova then they would rise up.

Subtleties are key here as much as they were while they were partially creating the film in occupied Czechoslovakia, only for it to be later moved to France. One of the most devouring science fiction films I have ever seen and an adventure tale all the same. Both the soundtrack and visuals epitomise psychedelic French culture and is well worth the mere hour of your time.

Not to mention it's all available for free online!