Apr 15, 2013

Fantastic Planet

Fantastic Planet (La Planete savage) first appeared in 1973, a cut-out stop-motion animated movie (based on a  novel by Stefan Wul).  It has been a standby of film festivals and film classes ever since, praised for its weird, surreal imagery and "can't we all just get along" message.

The plot: humans, or Oms ("hommes"), live on a weird, surreal planet where the dominant species are the gigantic but serene Traags.  Not realizing that the Oms are sentient, the Traags keep them as pets, dress them in weird costumes and force them to do tricks.

Others are "wild."  Planet leaders often complain about the Om infestation, and suggest extermination.

An Om boy named Terr ("Earth") becomes the pet of a young Traag girl, who gives him access to her mechanical-learning device.  Eventually he grows into a young man.  He manages to steal the device, run away, and live with a tribe of wild Oms.  Under his leadership, they become guerilla warriors, sabotaging the Traags' spiritual migration to another planet, disrupting the civilization so effectively that they call for a truce.

In the coda, centuries have passed, and the two species are living in harmony.

The gay connection:

1. Lots of male nudity. Terr become particularly attractive as a young man.

2. I can't recall Terr getting a girlfriend or expressing any heterosexual interest whatever.

3. The gay symbolism of being trapped in a world where the rules don't make sense and the slightest misstep could mean disaster.

A stage version appeared in 2010 at the Transmodern Festival in Baltimore, with actors in weird masks playing the Traags and Tim Paggi (top photo) in a revealing green-and-yellow jumpsuit as Terr.