Classic French Animations: “Fantastic Planet” (1973) and “The King & The Mockingbird” (1980)

La Planete Sauvage Poster Fantastic Planet (La Planete Sauvage) (1973)   

Once in awhile comes one animation which is so powerful in its message and so unusual in its presentation, it becomes quite unforgettable. “Fantastic Planet” is precisely such adult-themed animation, co-produced between France and Czechoslovakia. A winner of the Cannes Special Prize in 1973, this French-language animation has even been named one of the greatest (Rolling Stone). In its presentation, “Fantastic Planet” is highly imaginative, inspired by some psychedelic art and, as some commentators put it, by “cut-outs from Soviet science magazines” (CinePassion). Based on Stefan Wul’s 1957 science-fiction novel, Oms en série, the animation is about blue-skinned giants, the Draags, who keep as pets a human race of Oms on the planet Ygam. The animation may be a tad too disturbing in its content, but, because the world it creates is so fascinatingly strange, and because its concept of the fight to have freedom is so relatable, it is well worth all the attention and praise.

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Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea (2002)

MV5BNDM0YzFiMzItZDMxOC00YjIyLThiNTktZWU1MGYwMmRhNWY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU3ODUxMTc@._V1_UY1200_CR125,0,630,1200_AL_The Ballad of the Salt Sea (2002)  

He’s dreaming with his eyes open, and those that dream with their eyes open are dangerous, for they do not know when their dreams come to an end” (Hugo Pratt, taking inspiration from the famous quote by T.E. Lawrence).

“When I want to relax, I read an essay by Engels. When I want something more serious to read, I read Corto Maltese” (Umberto Eco).

La Ballade de la mer salée” or “The Ballad of the Salt Sea” (2002) is a French-language TV animation based on the Italian comics of the adventures of Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. Corto Maltese is a mysterious and freedom-loving adventurer and sailor who travels the world in search of excitement and fortune, and is found in the early twentieth century in such places as Southern Europe, Arabia, Africa and Russia. In “The Ballad of the Salt Sea”, Corto is found sailing in the Pacific Ocean, and is in the midst of a shady deal with Rasputin, a psychopathic pirate and a Siberian army escapee, and with a man simply called the Monk, while the World War I is about to officially begin and the ocean is full of military ships.

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“The Red Turtle” Mini-Review

The_Red_Turtle

The Red Turtle (2016)

The Red Turtle” is this year’s best animation Oscar nominee that surprised people in a way it masterfully combined visual simplicity and metaphoric depth. The film borrows the theme of Robinson Crusoe to tell the story of a shipwrecked man who experiences both desperation, sorrow and then happiness on an isolated island. The director of this gem is Dutch Michaël Dudok de Wit who partnered with the Japanese Studio Ghibli to produce a wordless, but very meaningful animation which explores the theme of a man’s survival on an island, but also the bigger topics of a man’s place in the universe and his relationship with nature. Given the film’s visual simplicity, it is astounding how much there is to experience here for the viewer. Even if the content of this animation may be described as “thin”, the underling symbolism of the movie guarantees that the audience engages in emotive reflection.

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