IF YOU LIKE SCI-FI AND FANTASY, you'll like Gandahar. From
the director of Fantastic Planet and Les Mâitres du Temps, Gandahar
is full of weird and wonderful creatures some really fabulous
'mirror birds', humanoid beauties (sometimes in various stages
of undress or nursing strange baby creatures, as you do in Sci-Fi Fantasy!)
and has a hero, Sylvain Lanvère "Syl, as friends call you".
In fact, everything you could wish for in the genre.
A huge hit in France when it was released, Gandahar is entertaining and visually
pleasing. The film has an edge: it also explores the importance of organic farming
and genetic mutation and has a number of messages and warnings for today's world.
With haunting music and superb artwork, it was director René Laloux's final
animated feature film (1988) and was based on an original story by Jean-Pierre
The beginning rather reminded me of the future world in H G Wells' The Time
Machine where, although the future world is initially presented as a peaceful,
relaxing and idyllic place to be, you just know that Utopia is about to have
a rude awakening.
When the threat comes, it strikes fast and furiously. Whole villages have been
attacked and the people turned to stone. The Mirror Birds take this disastrous
news back to Queen Ambisextra.
Syl, the best but youthful agent, is called to the council of women
interesting, as there is a train of thought today that women will eventually
reclaim and save Earth and he is sent out to the Circumscribing
Ocean on an "important and dangerous mission" to find the mysterious metallic
attackers who are threatening Gandahar's existence.
Syl's flying machine (with flapping wings) is attacked by pterodactyl-type birds
and he crashes in the wastelands to be found by an under-ground race of mutants
deformed Gandaharians who, Syl is told, are "the results of your
research in the field of genetics" in other words, botched genetic
experiments. He is also told that, although they have never seen the enemy,
they can hear them through small tunnels they call "the Ears of the Earth".
Shayo, one of The Deformed, leads Syl through a futuristic tropical jungle and
tells him that "The Deformed are terrified of the present" and that is why past-future
has become their way of speaking and believing they say "was will
be" instead of "I am". He also tells Syl
a riddle; a double prophecy, doubly obscure: "In a thousand years, Gandahar
was destroyed and all of its people killed; A thousand years ago, Gandahar will
be saved and the inevitable avoided."
In his quest to unravel the mystery of the attackers and in order to save Gandahar
from a seemingly-indestructible enemy, the handsome Syl has time for a little
romance with the lovely Airelle, with whom he becomes imprisoned in an oversized
egg. But Syl has a neat trick up
his sleeve. They escape, coming face to face with a sorn a giant
reptile thought to be extinct...
Visually pleasing and with a great story, Gandahar leads you through
a magnificent land with fantastic castles, giant crabs, grub-like mounts, innovative
flying machines, and a capital city Jasper built
into a rock that is in the form of a beautiful woman.
Don't forget Gandahar was filmed in 1988 and animation has moved on since
then. You won't find all the incredible skills used now but you will see a fascinating
fantasy creation that will enchant and entertain you. Ooohh, René!
Gandahar was previously seen in English-speaking countries as the dubbed
hack-job alternatively titled Light Years, presided over by Harvey Weinstein.
The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the original French version
of Laloux's distinctive film. Special Features include: New high-definition
restoration of the original Laloux version
in original aspect ratio; Newly translated optional English subtitles; Laloux's
obscure, short film La Prisonniere, and a 16-page booklet with Laloux
interviews and artwork. Trippy French animation is in the style of Studio Ghibli/Hayao
Miyazaki, and ecological concerns, of interest to the environmentally-aware
demographic, are noted.
Gandahar, a film by René Laloux,
was released for the first time on DVD in the UK on 22 October, 2007 at an RRP
of £17.99. (Catalogue no: EKA40260; Barcode: 5060000402605).