Friday, 10 May 2013

Gandahar, aka Light Years (1988)

This is very odd. Originally a French sf movie, an American version was directed by Harvey Weinstein with a script by Isaac Asimov. Voice artists include Glenn Close, Bridget Fonda, Christopher Plummer, Penn & Teller...

The basic plot is straight out of the old pulps, with an apparently Utopian pastoral society based on biological technology under attack by an army of metal men - from the future! There's also a really huge artificial brain, a tribe of cave-dwelling mutants, weird animals and plants of all sorts, and a city with breasts. In fact, there are quite a lot of breasts, because it's French.

The overall mood is oddly upbeat, given that the plot is about botched and thoroughly unethical experiments undermining a splendid but flawed culture. The animation was handled in South North Korea, which gives the thing an even more surreal feel than was perhaps intended. But watching it I found myself intrigued and forgot my everyday concerns, which is the mark of a good fantasy.

Indeed, such an ambitious and - broadly speaking - successful feature film deserves to be considered neglected classic. Loopy? Well, yes, but most sci-fi and fantasy classics are. Explain how Metropolis makes any kind of sense in plot terms, and then we can talk about whether millions of small cyborg birds really could lift a city.

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