Fantastic Planet aka La Planete Sauvage (1973)

One from the to watch pile…
Fantastic Planet aka La Planete Sauvage (1973)

The cover to the Umbrella Entertainment DVD


Film: In my stupidly overlarge collection of books about films, I regularly go back to the 1,000 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and this film is always present in the list.

This animated film was directed by French director René Laloux, and was animated by an all-female group of animators called ‘animatrices’, the production starting in Prague but eventually moved to France due to Communist authorities who were in power at the time.

Apparently this film was inspired by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in the late 60s (I know this as it is written on the back cover of the DVD) but I won’t make any commentary on that as my understanding of politics and non-Australian history is somewhat lacking, and anything I may say would be superficial and I don’t wish to insult people based on a subject I know nothing about.

I like movies, and whilst I appreciate some have subtext and meaning, I’m not one to comment on something of which I know nothing about.

Based on the book Om En Série by Stefan Will (a pen name of Pierre Pairault, writer of La Mort Vivant amongst others), Fantastic Planet tells of a planet inhabited by the Draags, a gigantic race of blue beings whose appearance may be slightly similar to ours, but whose existence is completely alien.

Also on this planet is a race identical to ours called Oms. Oms are kept as pets by the Draags, and our story tells of a young Draag, Tiwa, who has an Om of her own whom she calls Terr. 

Like any young girl, Tiwa dresses up her pet and loves him dearly, but Terr isn’t like other Oms. Terr listens in on Tina’s school lessons, learning all he can about everything to do with the planet. 

Terr has some creature make him new clothes.


As Tiwa gets older, she grows out of her playthings and Terr decides to run away, taking with him an educational headset, which to him is huge, so he can learn more about the world. Quickly, Terr meets up with a tribe of wild Oms and with his knowledge becomes a full fledged member, but will his knowledge bring revolution, or destroy the Oms altogether?

The Oms gets an education from a Draag device.


The visuals of this film are amazing. Each frame looks like it is straight out of a comic as there is depth to the pencil lines, and a beautiful watercolour element to the colour tones. The animation is a little clunky, but the artistic style overpowers that and the overall result is a treat.

How alien the planet is is wonderful too. The creatures are horrifyingly different to most modern science fiction art styles, and look more like they have been torn straight off a 1920s issue of Weird Tales cover. They are all a delight to behold though.

The soundtrack is amazing, and straight out of a prog rock rulebook, with maybe a little bit of Euro-sleeze porn bass thrown in for good measure.

This film is nothing short of beautiful and is well worth the award it received at the 1973 Cannes film festival. It’s slow paced but the visuals and score make it a fascinating watch. It’s said to be a precursor to the work of Studio Ghibli and with its unusual pace and innovative art design, I can’t argue with that.

Score: ****

A rare sighting of a What-the-hell-is-that?


Format: This Australian Umbrella Entertainment all-region (NTSC) DVD release of the film runs for approximately 72 minutes and is presented in a clear 1.66:1 image with a decent 2.0 audio track. The audio track is available in either French or English, but without a menu it can only be changed via your player’s audio options. I couldn’t turn off the subtitles though so in English that did become distracting when the dialogue was different.

Score: ***

Extras: Not a skerrik, I’m afraid… not even a menu!

Score: 0

WISIA: I think I am going to have to watch it a few times just for the beauty of the artistic style of the film, but maybe not so much after that.

The only good Draag is a dead one, if you are an Om.

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Inside aka À L’Interieur (2007) Review

Merry Christmas from the To Watch Pile! For the silly season, here’s a special Christmas movie as a gift, sourced from the re watch pile…

Inside aka À L’Interieur (2007)

The cover to the US DVD of Inside


Film: ‘Taste’ is a funny thing. There are things in life that one feels that they should love but for some reason, don’t. I love chocolate, and I love chilli, but chilli chocolate I just can’t do.

In the realm of TV, everyone who watched Game of Thrones told me I would love it due to it containing elements of other things I love: a fantasy medieval period, violence, blood ‘n’ guts, dragons and boobs, but to date I haven’t been able to get past the second episode. Yes, I am aware that by the sixth episode I’ll be hooked, but I’m sorry, if someone told me that a film gets good ‘at the sixth hour’, I probably wouldn’t waste my time with it. Sure it’s acted beautifully but I just don’t get the obsession over it.

Now a few years ago, French cinema made a few films that took the world by store, and me along with it. The filmic cheat of ‘Haute Tension’, the mind blowing ‘Martyrs’ and the nuevo-Nazploitation of Frontier(s) all kicked me in the balls, but there were two films that everyone on the planet rubbed their rhubarbs over that just didn’t click with me: ‘Ils’ aka ‘Them’ and this film ‘Inside’ aka ‘Á L’interieur’.

Inside: Allysson Paradis as Sarah


Inside tells of a pregnant woman, Sarah (Allysson Paradis) whose husband dies in a car accident, and several months later, on Christmas Eve, and the night before she is to go into hospital to have the baby, a stranger (Béatrice Dalle) knocks at her door wishing to come in and use the phone as her car has broken down. Sarah, feeling vulnerable, tells her that she can’t let her in as her husband is sleeping.

To which she tells her that she knows her husband is dead.

The next several harrowing hours (in film time, not actual time) are spent with this strange woman trying, and succeeding in gaining access to the house, but what does she was from the inside the ‘house’ and what are her motives for trying to get ‘inside’…

Inside: Béatrice Dalle as the intruder


My main issue with this film is the protagonist. I am certainly one with whom a movie does not sit well if the final girl or guy is unpleasant, and this is so very true here. Sarah is such an unpleasant human being that I don’t care about her, in actual fact on several occasions I was praying that Dalle would just execute her and be done with it. 

I get that the French films of this period were trying to show a more ‘real’ and gritty cinema at the time this was made, and honestly, home invasion films scare me more than any other kind, but this just did not strike the right chord with me.

Don’t get me wrong, the violence and gore of this film is tiptop and shocking, and, if you’ll excuse the pun, executed brilliantly, and I winced more than once. If Chas. Balun were still alive (we miss you, Chas.) I am sure this film would have rated quite highly in the ‘gore’ section of his ‘Gore Score’, but without that sympathetic lead, I just don’t care.

Also, it’s made really well too and there is a real feeling if claustrophobia to the whole film, and I’ll even give credit to the idea of a pregnant woman being terrorised should have worked and the whole script is pretty good, though their are a few police procedures that even the cops from The Last House on the Left and Human Centipede would raise an eyebrow at.

So yes, I don’t think it’s a total abortion but not being able sympathise with the main character makes it difficult for me to like. For me, if I want to watch a home invasion film set at Christmas, I’ll probably watch Home Alone again instead of this.

Score: **

The menu screen to the US DVD of Inside


Format: This region 1, American release DVD runs for approximately 82 minutes and is presented in a nice 1.78:1 video with a great pair of audio tracks, one in English 5.1 and one in French 5.1, both which are top shelf. There are, of course, subtitles available.

Score: ****

Extras: The disc opens with several trailers: Diary of the Dead, Storm Warning and The Mist, and the extras menu has one for Inside as well.

The core part of this extra package though is a pretty amazing, almost one hour long making of the film. It isn’t divided into 10 mini-featurettes like most of these things are: it’s a solid look at the making of a film. I will warn that it is in French, so you can’t put it on and do something else… you know, like write a review for a blog.

Score: ***

WISIA: I’m not a fan, so probably not.

Béatrice Dalle showing why scissors are so dangerous.