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La planete sauvage: what we understand for “civilized.”

Extract from the movie la planete sauvage

I'm returning from the Zusage, and I think Augie may read my mind, or at least the blog I'm writing, because she chose a movie that aligns greatly with my latest dilemma. Although, maybe I'm just focusing more on that because the film deals with many topics. I'm glad mom didn't agree to come along, because, as some of you suggested, I tried to make my parents understand my interest in cinema by inviting them to see more artistic films. Viktor -my father- declined without even thinking about it, but Mila -my mother- said she might agree if she had the time.

As soon as I knew the date of the coming projection, I told her. I wasn't going to try because, honestly, I gave up on them a long time ago, but I guess I'm as human as everyone and fall into the old habit of believing that we only need to find our way to connect. I was excited when I asked her to come, so I told her everything Augie said about the movie, and once the animated word went out of my mouth, I could see the loss of interest on her face. I don't even want to replicate what she said; I get so mad when I hear how people tend to minimize art, and most of them do it without even trying to understand it first to experience it. Please tell me you are not that kind of person; I know the internet is vast, but I write all this thinking I will find people alike.

Mila did not come along, and she lost the great treasure that is La Planete Sauvage, a French animated film made in 1973 and directed by Rene Laloux. This movie started as a project in 1964 and is based on the book Oms En Serie by Stefan Wul, which got around 30 illustrators. During its creation, it had pauses caused by financial troubles and political issues in Czechoslovakia that moved the production to France. La Planete Sauvage took almost 10 years to be done. You can see this in the quality of the work, the illustrations, the movements, the music, the originality, and the sets; there was a lot of passion and work behind it.

On top of all the details around its production, the story this movie portrays is deep. I think that only through animation we can withstand the narrative. Otherwise, this will be a horror movie, with all the deaths and the horror it shows, but all is lessened by the allegory by the fantasy, and that helps to get the different messages underlined by the sci-fi plot:

The story is set on a planet called Ygam, where blue giant human-like beings called Traags live. They abduct humans from Earth and see them as animals, taking some as pets and trying to control the population by killing them occasionally. One of these humans is taken by the daughter of a traag leader, and thanks to a malfunction of a device, he is able to get the knowledge transmitted to the young traag. Terr, as this human is called, escapes, and then he uses what he has learned and the device to help the human community, and they start to defend themselves. The oms (humans) get the upper hand and become an actual threat to the traags. Because of this, they try to reach an agreement in which a new satellite is created for the humans to live in.

On the surface, it seems like a simple story. The everlasting drama reminded me of Facundo: or Civilization and Barbarism by Domingo Sarmiento, a book lent to me by Gila the last time I was there. If you haven't read it yet, let me tell you that the main idea of this book is the same as in the film, but using humans. The antagonism in the text is between the European ways, as the civilized and educated ones, according to this author, and the Latin American ways, as the barbarian ones, because they were ignorant and hence violent, according to him. Sarmiento's book was made to analyze Argentina's situation in the period he wrote it, so it is more of an essay on what not just the country but the whole continent needed to improve. La Planete Sauvage, on the other hand, is a science fiction work, and because of this, it not only proposes a solution but also shows how it resolves the situation. If we want to keep it simple, the answer relies on education.

But it isn't just that. The film shows how even when the oms start getting the same knowledge the traags have, things do not change for them. They are forced by these literal giants to become violent, to threaten their whole existence, so they agree to let them go. The film itself shows how the oms have their own way of understanding and how the fact that they have to keep their efforts solely in survival doesn't allow them to improve their own societies. This lets us know that it's not only education but rather a system of oppression. That's why I'm glad mom didn't come along because I honestly believe she would have had a tough time seeing it.

And yet, I still would have enjoyed sharing this with her. It could have opened the door to talk about these topics. I should have stayed after the movie to talk with the attendees, but I chose not to because I felt that maybe I always overthink all of this. What do you think? Do I?

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