Cult Classics: Les Maîtres Du Temps

29 Aug

This will be the first edition of Cult Classics.  We’ll be talking about movies that you may not have seen.  Or maybe you just haven’t seen them in a long time.  Whatever the case may be, we’ve deemed them to fit in this category, and this is our blog.  And to begin this exciting new journey we’ll be discussing Les Maîtres Du Temps.

Lesmaitresdutemps

Les Maîtres Du Temps, or Time Masters as it was released in the states, is a space adventure by French animation master René Laloux.  This was his follow-up to La Planète Sauvage, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973.  The story follows a young boy who, along with his father, have crashed on a deadly planet.  After his father dies in the opening scene, the boy is left with only a microphone to wander the planet with.  Several of the father’s friends have the connecting microphone and spend the rest of the movie trying to reach the boy, all while talking to him through “Mike”, the only friend the boy has left.  That’s basically the plot of the movie.  There are some odds and ends thrown in there too.  An evil, greedy prince shakes things up.  Some telepathic, cute aliens provide some comic relief.  But that’s the basic idea of the movie.  And it sounds fairly simple and run of the mill.  But that’s before you take into consideration who made it.

René Laloux had an absolutely incredible imagination.  This can be seen in any of his films.  Just look up the trailers for some of his movies and you’ll be blown away.  He would have made this an amazing movie all by himself, but he didn’t.  French comic book king Moebius helped write the story and designed everything.  If you don’t know who that is, he is the man responsible for the long running western comic book Blueberry.  He also did most of the design work on The Fifth Element, and designed the way the majority of things looked in the classic animated film Heavy Metal.  Basically, the man is talented.  And adding him to an already incredible Laloux makes for an interesting film.

To be fair, Les Maîtres Du Temps is not perfect.  It was made in 1982, and it would appear that things we take for granted in animation now, like facial expressions, were not important in that long forgotten age.  But seriously, when going into a viewing of this film don’t expect the facial expressions of the characters to carry your emotions.  This movie survives on the amazing visuals and the completely bizarre twists that happen in the story.  Things happen in this movie that you will not be expecting.  That is all I will say about that.

To sum up, you should see this movie if you at all enjoy animation.  The landscapes and creatures that Laloux and Moebius dreamed up are not easily forgotten.  They are haunting in the most beautiful way.  Good luck finding this if you live in the US.  If you’re in Austin, like I am, they have it for rent at Vulcan Video.  Why the Criterion Collection hasn’t put out Laloux’s films is a mystery to me.  I’m forced to get the impressive, but imported and thus expensive, Master’s of Cinema version form the UK.  But, believe me, it’s worth it.

wishing I was French,

David

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