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Fantastic Planet Reviews

Eerie, surreal and a welcome respite from Disney-style animation, this French sci-fi allegory may not offer any mind-blowing insights (genocide is bad isn't exactly a new thought), but it's a trip. Human beings (called Oms) are the mice of the planet Ygam: Tiny, cute, and nice enough as pets, but a nuisance when they run wild and steal food from the huge, blue-skinned Traags. The arrogant and casually cruel Traags -- who spend their days meditating without showing any sign of having mastered the spiritual enlightenment thing -- regard the Oms as dumb animals and periodically exterminate their wild colonies without remorse. Terr is an Om, orphaned as a baby and adopted by Traag child Tiva. As Terr matures he becomes discontented with being a "living plaything," and begins listening in on Tiva's lessons, soon learning to read and absorbing the accumulated knowledge of the Traag civilization. He escapes and joins a colony of wild Oms, eventually leading them in rebellion against the Traags. On its original US release, the film's dialogue was dubbed into English and considerably altered in at attempt to make it more child-friendly. But no matter how you spin it, it's not a kiddie movie: The plot may be "Tolerance for Dummies," but images like those of the tiny Oms stuck to the tongue of a flying alien anteater or choking to death in their dens on poisonous fumes pumped in by the Traags are truly nightmarish (and some parents may not care for the glimpses of bare breasts and genitals). The look is Monty Python crossed with Eastern-European art animation and the images have a timelessly bizarre quality, '70s wacka-chucka wacka-chucka soundtrack notwithstanding.