Released in 1973 LA  PLANETE SAVAGE was a French/Czech animated co production. It was applauded at the time of its release and won the Cannes film festival Jury prize in 1974. It is to be honest a rather surreal and quirky movie and takes us to a planet that is ruled by blue skinned giants. The story that unfolds is said to be based upon the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, but we see within it a plethora of possible interpretations and messages. The artwork is somewhat Dali inspired with super surreal landscapes and backdrops, but these are populated by weird and even stranger creatures or flora and creature amalgamations and creations. Some of the animation has the look of those Victorian botanical drawings, being detailed but maybe just to out of the ordinary. Directed by Rene Laloux, THE FANTASTIC PLANET as it was retitled for UK and USA release, was scored by composer Alain Goraguer.

The soundtrack was just as off the wall and oddball as the movie itself, at times taking on the guise of electronic rock infused cues that would not have been out of place on an album by Pink Floyd. And, at other points the composer writing pieces that were more akin to Morricone or Polish composer Christophe Komeda. A mix of jazz, rock and also symphonic sounding music, which surprisingly worked for the movie and also when listening to the album stand up away from those surreal images and scenarios on screen. What struck me about the score was the composers use of choir within the work, he fuses this with many other musical elements and it always manages to create a lasting impression upon the listener, even the use of a somewhat sleazy sounding sax and woodwind combined and supported by sporadic sounding bongos works.



Goraguer worked with Serge Gainsbourg as is probably best known as being a jazz pianist, he also collaborated with Bris Vian and scored movies such as, La Vie de Bohème’, ‘Deux jours à tuer’ and ‘Saint Laurent. He also wrote an interesting score for Voise Venise et Crever. The soundtrack was released on LP back in 1973 as a gatefold de luxe edition, featuring the artwork from the movie. Goraguer based his score on a repeating descending four note scale motif, and built the thematic material around this, orchestrating and arranging the theme so that it remained fresh but also familiar.



My initial thoughts on the score when I first heard it in the 1970.s was mixed and I was not sure whether I actually liked it at all, but it is a soundtrack that just grows on you, it was re-issued on CD and is also now available on various digital platforms. Its worth listening too, and maybe also try and catch the movie.





I think sometimes when one watches a movie and also hears the musical score, the images maybe at times can work against the music or at least your opinion of it, so if the film is not brilliant and you get lapses of concentration throughout, because you have a pretty low opinion of the movie one can also forget if the music was any good or at least not give it a second thought, I hope you understand what I mean, Because I confuse myself at times. One movie I watched on TV was ALEXANDER which was directed by Oliver Stone and told the story of the Macedonian leader who became known as Alexander the Great. Stone drew his inspiration and based his tale of Epic and Historical adventure upon the book by Robin Lane Fox which was published in 1973. Colin Farrell took the lead role and the movie also boasted impressive cast members such as Angelina Jolie, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Val Kilmer and Rosario Dawson. However, although the movie was well received when released in Europe, it did less well in the United States, and within a year it had been released onto DVD. I do remember thinking well maybe this is not that good a movie, so maybe at the time because I was not impressed with it I also somehow put the musical score by Vangelis into the same category, you know file under watched it once heard it once and thanks but no thanks. But on re-visiting the soundtrack recently I was, shall we say pleasantly surprised and also suitably impressed. It is a substantial work that is laden heavily with interesting and grandiose sounding themes. How could I not have heard this when watching the movie, maybe it was Farrell’s Irish brogue that put me off, after all it was slightly out of place wasn’t it. But really, I say here and now what was I thinking, discounting it and dismissing it. Vangelis created a wonderfully thematic score, and one that is arguably one of his best film soundtracks.



The action pieces are stupendously epic sounding with the composer combining heavy percussive elements with rasping brass strings, synths and chorale work which at times reaches DIES IRES proportions. These action cues are relentless and unforgiving like Alexanders army when they meet in battle with an enemy. One of the cues that I have returned to numerous times is ACROSS THEMOUNTAINS, which is wonderfully melodic and haunting with Vangelis utilising choir, subt5099709294228le percussion, strings and harp that are supported by brass and faraway sounding horns that give the composition an imposing and grand sound. Of course, the synthetics that we so readily associate with Vangelis are present, but he fuses these with more conventional symphonic elements to create a sound that has a lasting effect upon its listener. I know I am late to the party on this one, but I can now fully appreciate the score and its many sounds, nuances and themes. Maybe you were of the same opinion when the score was first released? If so give it another chance, I think like me you will be surprised and glad that you listened again.